Part 6: The Hwiccean connection
The kingdom of the Hwicce was centred on the River Severn,
famous for the annual Severn Bore (Welsh, Egr Hafren). Their kingdom
is thought to have become established during the years after 577,
when Ceawlin conquered the British domains of Cirencester (Welsh,
Caer Geri), Gloucester (Welsh, Caerloyw), and Bath (Welsh,
Their three rulers were killed in the process, but these men
were not kings as recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles. The names
Coinmagil and Farinmagil reveal the real status of these Britons.
The suffix 'magil', pronounced as 'ma-yil', is the Welsh MAEL,
meaning a lord. Brenin is the word for a king. The English term
'king' is derived from the word 'kin' and the Saxons tended to call
any local ruler a king.
By 577, the unity of an Arturo-Ambrosian state (about 480 to
perhaps 508) had long since disappeared, and it had become a matter
of conquering local areas under British rule one by one. Perhaps
residual Gewisse, whose ancestors had escaped being driven out by
the once victorious Britons, were amongst the earliest of the
It is thought by some historians that the Hwicce were converted
to Christianity by missionaries from the British church. However
that might have been, King Eanfrith and his daughter, Queen Eafe of
the South Saxons, were certainly baptised Christians.
Eafe of the South Saxons
In her book on the Charters of Selsey, Lesley refers to the
similarity between the naming patterns of the royal families of the
Hwicce and Sussex. This aspect has to be significant in assisting
any conjectural reconstruction of the South Saxon dynasties, which
has been attempted in the Nothgyth Quest.
The starting point is taken with the supposition that the
Hwiccean princes, Osric, Oshere and Osred, could have been the full
brothers of Queen Eafe of the South Saxons, and therefore the
maternal uncles of her children by Aethelwalh.
Eafe was a Christian princess amongst an officially pagan tribe,
although she must have had a priest to give her the sacraments, and
her children were probably baptised, while at the same time having
names that bore dynastic significance for both her and her husband,
as postulated in the main text. Under such circumstances, Eafe's
family and religion would have been very important to her, and their
mother's attachment to her homeland would have affected her
The children are assumed to have been (possibly) Aethelric, plus
Aethelthryth and Aethelstan, and maybe others. They would have
travelled to the royal court of the Hwicce and would have come to
know their relatives. The experience would have left a lasting
impression on them. It is contended here that, as a result, after
Aethelthryth had married Nothhelm the children she had by him bore
the OS- prefix of her maternal uncles. It has also been postulated
in the main text that Osmund, Oswald, Aelfwald and Oslac were her
grandchildren, although she might not have known the last two.
Arguing in terms of the main hypothesis, Aethelthryth's younger
brother, Aethelstan, reacted differently.