The Nothgyth Quest Hypothesis
by David Slaughter, 3 February 2008
Part 2: The Ællean warlordship and the Cissan kingdom of the
And there shall the songs of Sussex be sung
And the story of Sussex told.
Except for Cuthwine (see below), the evidence for the existence
of the nobility, whose entries are to be found in this section,
comes from the Royal Legend of the South Saxons, fragments of which
have survived in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles and in the writing of
Roger of Wendover, the latter from the fourteenth century. The
memory of Wincheling the son of Cissa - that is, Wine Cissing -
survived in Winchelsea until the late nineteenth century.
Wlenca, born late 420s?
The name of his father is not known. A
Saxon chieftain who fathered the alderman known eventually as Cymen
Wlencing. The assumption here is that Wlenca was the consanguine
maternal uncle of the royal brothers Ælle and Mealla, and that he
was the eldest of the four alderman who landed near Selsey in 477,
bringing with him the experience of his years, although of lower
hierarchical standing than his nephews.
He probably founded his
settlement at Lancing in the same year. This Wlencing chieftainship
was inherited eventually by his son Cymen.
Ælle, born early 450s?
Probably the eldest son of a Saxon king
claiming patrilineal descent from the god Woden, who could have died
around 476. Ælle, who perhaps sailed with his three keel-loads of
aristocratic warriors from the Rhine delta, might have made a first
landing with his fellow aldermen and blood relatives on the island
which became his tribal settlement of Hayling Island.
he would have been recognised as the local king. He landed with his
warriors and senior ranking male relatives near Selsey in 477.
his bravest and most trusted warriors, Ælle was likely to have made
chieftains many of whom were to settle the new territories to be
gained from the Britons. Eventually, enough of the coastal strip had
been taken over to enable Ælle to capture and destroy Pevensey in
491. There must have been setbacks, most notably the indecisive
battle of Mearcred's Burn in 485. Although there is no documentary
evidence, it is possible that he made his eldest son, Cissa, his
co-warlord of the South Saxons after the destruction of Pevensey
(see the entry for Cissa below).
Nothgyth Quest Supporting Notes
Anglo-Saxon Apartheid Theory
Light Enters Dark Age Londinium
Assessing Anglo-Saxon Invasions
RULERS OF ENGLAND:
Anglo-Saxon Kings of Sussex at
anglo-saxonkingsofsussex blogspot (dead link)
Old English - University of Calgary
Although the sea has long since retreated from the Roman shore fort
at Pevensey in Sussex, it is thought that Ælle executed a naval
attack to capture the stronghold in 491.
Not only was Ælle the royal warlord
of the South Saxons, but in spite of his decisive defeat by the
Britons at Mount Baden , it is known that he was also
recognised as the first Bretwalda. It is likely that this military
status would have been accepted by all Jutes and Saxons south of the
Thames. Ælle died in 514, leaving the warlordship of the South
Saxons to his eldest son, and co-warlord, Cissa.
tradition the first Bretwalda had three sons, but the names of the
younger two were not remembered, overshadowed as they were by Cissa,
who was born in 477, and confused with the founding fathers who landed near
Selsey in the same year. It is improbable that Ælle was ever king of
the all South Saxons, but royal lineage would have helped to assert
his authority over them.
Mealla, born in the late 450s?
Presumed here to have been a
royal alderman and Ælle's younger brother. As such he might also
have been the leading warrior in his warlord brother's retinue until Cissa Aelling reached his majority at the age of fourteen. If Mealla
was Ælle's brother, he would probably have landed with Ælle near
Selsey in 477, and is likely to have campaigned with his brother
during the nascent years of Sussex.
In 491, Ælle having destroyed
the Roman fort of Pevensey, it could have been Mealla who defeated
the local Britons making their last stand on Mount Cayburn (Old
Welsh, Caerbryn). Perhaps it was after this British defeat that Mealla founded his own settlement, not far from the Cayburn battle
site, at South Malling. This theoretical version of events seems to
fit the contemporary circumstances.
Cymen Wlencing, born in the early 450s?
Cymen was Wlenca's son and heir,
and is taken here as the maternal first cousin of the royal brothers
Ælle and Mealla, and who landed with them near Selsey in 477 at a
place which became known as Cymen's Shore, which itself was lost to the sea many
generations later. The site is now referred to as The Owers. On
Wlenca's death, Cymen would have inherited his father's settlement
at Lancing. Cymen then held two aldermanries, and it appears that he
was referred to as Cymen Wlencing, probably because of his separated
The left hand page contains a list of British place names documented
by Nennius. The British name for Pevensey was recorded by him as
Pensavelcoit, perhaps Pen+savle+coit (Welsh, Pensafle'r Coed),
meaning 'end of wooded area'.
The assertion here is that Cissa
did not die in 590, as recorded by Roger of Wendover, but that he
died at the age of ninety. The rest of the timescale of Cissa's life, as
given by Roger, has been modified accordingly.
Cissa was perhaps
born at his father's vil on Hayling Island in 477 and died in 567.
He was probably the eldest of Ælle's three sons, the names of the
other two having been forgotten. It is contended here that when Cissa
reached his majority, at the age of fourteen in 491, he was elevated
by his father to be the co-warlord, perhaps after the fall of
Pevensey. If this contention is correct, then Cissa was indeed a
ruler for seventy six years as inferred by Roger. On Ælle's death in
514, Cissa would have inherited the warlordship as his own, and
presumably was able to use the influence of royal ancestry to found
the kingdom of the South Saxons.
He made the old Roman town of Noviomagum Regnorum his royal centre, renaming it Cissan Ceaster,
today's Chichester. Concluding the timescale referred to above,
Cissa reigned from 514-567, and like Claudia Crysis of Roman
Lincoln, he lived to be a nonagenarian. Rectifying Roger of
Wendover's uncontextual date of 586, four years before Cissa's
supposed death in 590 to a possible historical event, Wine, his son
and heir might have already predeceased him by 563. After Cissa's
death, the kingship of the South Saxons passed to Ceawlin, by then
king of the West Saxons, who perhaps had married a granddaughter of
Cissa (for this speculation, see the entry for Wine Cissing below).
However, a separate kingdom of the South Saxons became irrelevant,
in a warrior age, when armed men from Sussex could avenge the defeat
of their forefathers at Mount Baden by fighting for Ceawlin, king of
their fellow Saxons and the second bretwalda, as he advanced against the
now disunited Britons.
Wine Cissing, born in the late 500s? 
Following remembered tradition he died, maybe, about 563, thus
predeceasing his father Cissa by four years. He founded the
earliest settlement at Winchelsea, perhaps calling it Winesceseley,
the Gwent-chesel-ey of the later mediaeval period, which was finally
lost to the sea in the great storm of 1287.
Wine probably had his vil at Winchelsea from where, as his father's heir (or
perhaps Atheling?), he
would have represented royal authority on the East March of the
kingdom, near the Jutish settlement of Hastings. Here, where the sea
filled a large firth in the sixth century, he would have been known
as Wine Cissing, the king's son and co-ruler. This hypothesis
speculates that Wine had a daughter, maybe his eldest surviving
child, who was wedded to Ceawlin of Wessex (see the entry for
Cuthwine below), perhaps sometime in the early 550s, and that this
union was to prove extinctive to the survival of a South Saxon
kingdom. Most importantly, this would explain why the Cissan kingdom
devolved, according to Roger, on the powerful Ceawlin on the death
of the old king. Apparently, there was no confrontation from the
warrior kindred of Wine to challenge the grasp of the West Saxon
ruler. It is true that Ceawlin might have already been recognised as
the second Bretwalda by 567, but that did not necessarily give him
the right to subsume Sussex.
Cuthwine, born circa 560?
He is known to have been the eldest
son of Ceawlin, king of the West Saxons and second Bretwalda. This
hypothesis speculates that Cuthwine's mother was the eldest (?)
daughter of Wine Cissing (see the entry for Wine Cissing above), and
that this successful warrior was destined to inherit his father's
authority over both West and South Saxons. It is recorded that he
went into battle with his father as early as 577. It is also
speculated that the choice of giving him an old dynastic name,
Cuthwine, would have reflected the ties of Ceawlin's son to both
peoples. Cutha is known to have been Cuthwine's paternal uncle, and
in terms of this hypothesis, Wine of Sussex was his maternal
However, as history records, Ceawlin was deposed
by his nephews, Ceol and Ceolwulf, and power in Wessex shifted to
the descendants of King Ceol. This relationship follows the
traditional royal line of descent. If, indeed, Cuthwine was King
Cissa's great grandson and he lived to see the endemic strife
between Sussex and Wessex during the reign of Ceolwulf (597- 611),
it seems feasible that he would have lent his support to the South
Saxon insurgency. Cuthwine's family had been deprived of power and
this would have been a warrior's opportunity to fight back. The date
607, given as the year of insurrection in the Anglo-Saxon
Chronicles, is probably rhetoric and based on forty rhetorical years
from the death of King Cissa, taken here to have been in 567.
According to the traditional royal line of succession already
mentioned, Cuthwine's youngest son was Cuthwulf, from whom, in line
with the conjectural dynasty of Ecgwald Cuthwulfing discussed below,
many later kings of the South Saxons were descended.
Continued in Part 3
Images are free from copyright. Text copyright © David Slaughter, BA Hons, ATC (Sussex),
Blue Robe Order of the Welsh Gorsedd, expanded from material first released on
the Anglo-Saxon Kings of Sussex blogspot. An original
feature for the History Files.