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Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms

Angles of Central England

 

 

 

MapLindisware (Lindissi / Lindsey)

The Roman city of Lindum Colonia was founded in the eastern section of the tribal territory of the Corieltavi. Popularly known as Lindum (modern Lincoln), this seems to have produced Caer Lind Colun in the Brythonic language, with 'caer' meaning 'fort', and 'lind colun' being a shortening of Lindum Colonia. The city may have been the core of a post-Roman kingdom or an independent district under a Romanised magistrate in the early fifth century, but evidence for the history of the region until the tenth or eleventh centuries is extremely sketchy. It might just as easily have remained under Britain's central administrative control, but perhaps not for long.

FeatureA kingdom seems to have been founded circa AD 480 by a newly-arrived group of Angles, perhaps intermingling with Germanic peoples who had been settled there beforehand as foederati, as well as with the native population. They called themselves the Lindisware, taking the local name as the 'folk of Lindum'. Over time, 'Lindisware' became Lindissi, and then Lindsey, and it was bordered to the east by Elmet, and to the south-east by the Middil Engle. The kingdom has almost no recorded history, even before its conquest, but the name of its fourth king suggests strong links to the Britons living there. Lincoln itself appears to have begun to decay at the end of the period of prosperity in Roman Britain, in the 360s. By the fifth century, walls were falling down, roofs were falling in, and some of the large civic buildings were in ruins. Also the sewers were unlikely to be working by this time. Needless to say, much of the population had migrated into the countryside by this time.

Two Lincolnshire villages, Winteringham and Winterton, lying almost side by side on the banks of the Humber, are named after what was in all probability the first historical Anglian king, Winta, and suggest the starting point of the Humbrensian settlement of the region. Winteringham, which is likely on formal grounds to be the earlier of the two settlements, is exactly on the line of the main Roman road from the south at the point where its course must have been continued by means of a ferry in Roman times across the river from Winteringham Haven to Brough on the north bank of the Humber. This settlement of the new arrivals from the north downwards strongly suggests links across the Humber to the Angles of Deywr, although there was no political union between the two groups. The dialect of medieval Lindsey is seen as part of a northern linguistic group, while Holland and Kesteven, immediately to the south (and included in modern Lincolnshire) were more closely linked to Midlands English.

FeatureBased in Lincoln (to the north of the Wash), Lindsey incorporated the northern half of the modern county of Lincolnshire (the districts of West and East Lindsey). It had a southern border just below Lincoln itself which followed the River Witham towards the Wash, but which turned east about fifteen kilometres from the Wash (and therefore excluded the late Anglo-Saxon town of Skirbeck - modern Boston - from the kingdom) to meander north-east before joining the sea around Friskney. This line was probably an earlier course of the river. For most of its life Lindsey was isolated from the other Anglo-Saxon kingdoms by the extensive marshes and wetlands to the south and thick forest to the north and west. The River Trent also formed much of the western border (a Celtic name, from British Trisantonia, primitive Welsh Tihanton, and Old English Treenta). The Isle of Axholme was probably always part of the kingdom. Excavations in the area of the important Saxon church at Barton-on-Humber, close to the east of Winteringham, have clearly suggested that there is no reason to suggest a break of occupation between the Roman and Saxon periods. Combined with similar evidence from Winteringham itself it seems likely that the incoming Anglians directly succeeded the previous Romano-British administration.

A separate tribe of Angles, the Spaldingas, settled in what is now the South Holland district of Lincolnshire, which fell outside the borders of the kingdom of Lindsey for its entire existence (they were generally seen as being an outlying part of the Middil Engle). The Spaldingas apparently retained their administrative independence right into the ninth and tenth centuries, when the region formed one of the Five Boroughs of the kingdom of York.

(Additional information from The Landscape of King Arthur, Geoffrey Ashe, from The Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Lindsey, Kevin Leahy, from The Oxford History of England: The English Settlements, J N L Meyers, from Herefrith of Louth, Saint and Bishop; A Problem of Identities, A E B Owen, and from Lincolnshire History and Archaeology, Vol XV.)

c.455?

While it is unknown just how the change from British Deywr to Anglian Deira progresses, It seems to be around this time that the Angles there 'separated Deira from Bernicia', possibly establishing a semi-independent Anglian domain. The time at which Britain is in confusion following the removal of Vortigern from office and the Jutish revolt in Ceint would be an ideal date for this event. It may also be the trigger for the settlement of Angles on the opposite, southern bank of the River Humber, the early Lindisware, who may or may not be Deirans themselves.

Spearhead from Winteringham
This spearhead, dated to AD 500-750, was found in Winteringham, possibly one of the first places to be settled by the newly-arriving Angles as they moved south from the Humber

FeatureDo these Anglians take over straight away or are they settled as foederati by an existing local British administration? The survival of the Lind Colun name (Lincoln), the mass of fourth century British belt buckles found by archaeologists, and a lack of early Angle cemeteries around Lind Colun all suggest a robust Romano-British administration. The Roman city probably declines as they do elsewhere, with rebuilding in wood, perhaps to support a tyrant of the type about which Gildas would later be so unhappy, or a semi-independent magistrate of the type found in Caer Gloui and probably other places.

fl c.480?

Winta

First historical figure in royal house. 'Son' of Woden of Angeln.

Although not historically attested, and known only by the royal pedigree, Winta can generally be placed around this date as possibly the first of the Lindisware to rule. The two Lincolnshire villages, Winteringham and Winterton, which lie almost side by side on the banks of the Humber are strongly linked to his name, and may be the focal point for the start of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom while a Romano-British authority governs the main part of the territory from Lind Colun. The name Winta means 'white', probably in the sense of blond hair, which would be a notable feature of the Angles in relation to the darker native Britons.

c.480

One group of Angles starts to bury their dead in a small cemetery on the eastern side of the modern Middle Street (B1398), midway between North Carlton and South Carlton, and immediately to the north of Caer Lind Colun. They may be attracted to the area by the Bronze Age burial mounds of the Beaker Folk, of which there are at least three. Anglo-Saxon burials in Britain frequently take place near prehistoric burial mounds, showing that the new arrivals recognise and appreciate these established places of rest. Lind Colun itself and the countryside around it is a world of slowly decaying Roman stone buildings mixed with wooden Germanic houses which the subjugated Britons in the region are also starting to copy. Being Germanic is the way forward for both Angles and Britons here.

c.480s - 490s

This is the probable period in which the traditional twelve victorious battles of Arthur are fought. In reality, although many of the battles seem to reflect actual events, it is likely that they are spaced out over a greater length of time, and are undertaken by multiple British leaders (most especially Ambrosius Aurelianus). Five of those battles are fought in locations that would appear to be in, or near, early Lindsey, in the south and in the centre respectively. The first is fought on the River Glein, and the second, third, fourth, and fifth are upon the 'Dubglas' in regione Linnuis ('the district of Linnuis'). Lincolnshire has a Glen (probably from the Brythonic word 'glân', or 'clean'), which is soon settled by the Spaldingas people, and Linnuis is almost certainly the regional capital (Roman Lindum, modern Lincoln). There is no Dubglas ('blackwater') in Lindsey, but the muddy Ancholme is a possible candidate, with a strategically vital crossing at Brigg. Such actions would appear to be designed to contain the Lindisware, soon after their possible takeover of the region.

fl c.500?

Cretta / Creoda

Son. Later Creodas: West Seaxe (534) & Iclingas (c.580).

c.500 - 650

The number of graves in Lindsey is a fraction of the estimated population. They are almost all Anglo-Saxon, with the proportionately large number of Britons remaining unrecorded, their graves impossible to recognise by modern eyes, even though they continue to work the land under their new masters, preventing woodland regrowth in the kingdom to any great degree (an abandoned field will return to woodland in about fifty years). Archaeological finds of Fowler's Type F1 copper-alloy penannular brooches can probably be dated to the sixth century and suggest the survival of the Romano-British population, which is clearly preserving some of its traditions despite a gradual drift towards becoming Anglo-Saxon.

fl c.530?

Cueldgils

Son.

c.550

By now four main Angle cremation cemeteries have been established, at Cleatham, Elsham, South Elkington, and West Keal, plus a fifth outside Lindsey (but inside modern Lincolnshire) at Loveden Hill. There are no cremation cemeteries in the hinterland around Lind Colun, perhaps because the city had been able to control its surroundings in the fifth and early sixth centuries. Lovendon Hill, twenty-five kilometres to the south, is the closest until later in the sixth century. This suggests that a sub-Roman local authority had controlled the city until the early 500s, or that the Angles had simply been uninterested in it.

Newport Gate in Lincoln
The Roman Newport Gate at Lind Colun, through which passes Ermine Street, is today the world's only surviving Roman arch that is still open to traffic

fl c.560?

Cædbæd / Caedbaed

Son. A name of (partly?) British origin.

The British name of Cædbæd in the royal pedigree of Lindsey, along with archaeological evidence for British culture, suggests links at the very top between the Britons and Angles here, a blending of cultures and peoples that can also be theorised for the last days of Caer Gwinntguic.

fl c.580?

Creoda

Son.

fl c.610?

Bubba

Son.

617

Edwin has been restored as king of Deira and Bernicia to become ruler of all the Angles north of the Humber. He now begins a push westwards that will gain him the entire British Pennine region, starting with the invasion of the kingdom of Elmet, which borders Lindsey to the west. The Elmetians are outnumbered by Edwin's host and are chased to the River Don, where they finally make a stand. The doomed stand is defeated in a battle fought near the former Roman settlement of Bawtry (approximately ten kilometres (six miles) south-east of Danum (Doncaster), on the Roman road to Lind Colun. Edwin is able to subdue the kingdom. Lindsey, protected from the north by the Humber, is now exposed on its western flank to Northumbrian attacks.

c.620

FeatureWith the kingdom's western flank now exposed, it does not take long at all before Lindsey falls under Deiran dominance. It is probably in this period that the beginnings of urban life begin to make a reappearance. The Roman city of Lind Colun has probably been abandoned for at least a century and is little more than great piles of ruins and scattered stonework, with some surviving walls or remains of them. Other Anglo-Saxon towns such as Ipswich, and even London itself, also begin to show signs of life and expansion at this time.

fl 629

Blæcca / Blecca

Not on the main Lindsey pedigree, possible a side branch. King?

628 - 629

As part of his mission to the Deirans, the first bishop of the Roman Church in York, St Paulinus, also travels to their subsidiary territory of Lindsey. In the city of Lincoln in 629 he meets a praefectus civitatis named Blæcca or Blecca and converts him and his household to Christianity. The title 'prefect of the city' reveals a continuation of Roman empire practices, or at least titles, in the Anglian kingdom, further reinforcing the probability of a smooth transition of power from sub-Roman to Anglian rule. Blæcca could well be a king of Lindsey even though he is not mentioned in the pedigree for Aldfrið (the last ruler of Lindsey), and he is the only individual on this list who can be firmly dated.

At a point in the seventh century a new church is built on the site of the old Roman forum in Lincoln, also covering a late fourth century British Church in wood. This is at a time in which various former Roman cities are being re-inhabited and rebuilt. The church of St Paul in the Bail is consecrated about a year after the visit of St Paulinus, and the body of a wealthy British chieftain complete with Celtic hanging bowl is interred within. The church is in ruins by around the 730s, but is subsequently rebuilt several times (to be finally demolished in 1971, in the shadow of Lincoln Cathedral).

632/3

Edwin of Deira is killed at Hatfield Chase (just outside Lindsey's western borders) by Penda of Mercia while the latter is allied to Cadwallon, king of Gwynedd and High King of the Britons. Both of Edwin's sons are also killed, ending his royal line. Cadwallon repays many years of defeats, deaths, rapes and pillaging at Northumbrian hands by conducting a year-long campaign of revenge in the kingdoms of Bernicia and Deira. It is likely that Lindsey becomes independent for a while following this destruction of its masters.

634 - 642

Oswald of Bernicia defeats and kills High King Cadwallon at Heavenfield near Hexham, thereby removing any British claims to the conquered Elmet. He may also renew the domination of Lindsey during his lifetime.

fl c.640?

Beda / Bede

Son. Deiran vassal.

c.658

The Lindisware fall under Mercian dominance during that kingdom's resurgence under Wulfhere, although most likely this is dominance from a distance, with much of normal daily life remaining completely unchanged in the rural kingdom. By now the four great cremation cemeteries have been abandoned in favour of smaller, more local inhumation cemeteries, probably due to the gradual adoption of Christianity.

fl c.675?

Biscop

Son. This is an Old English name, not a version of 'bishop'.

675 - 679

Lindsey falls under temporary Northumbrian dominance following the death of the Mercian King Wulfhere. During this period, Eadhæd (678-679) is consecrated as the first bishop of Lindsey. In 679 he returns north to become bishop of Ripon and is succeeded by Æthelwine (679-693).

679

MapMercia restores its control of the Lindisware and quite possibly removes its kings. Subsequent names in the genealogy for Lindsey may not be kings but could instead be ealdormen. They are expected to provide troops to their overlord for any campaigns undertaken by the Mercians. With the permanent loss of this territory of the Humbrensis region, a division is gradually formed along the Humber. Bede recognises its existence by his time, half a century later, when he references Lindsey in his great work.

FeatureThe Lindisware are included in the Mercian Tribal Hidage as Lindisfarona, with the Hidage probably being collated between 679 and 702 under kings Berthwald or Ethelred. Lindsey is assessed along with Hatfield Chase (Hæþfeldlande), which lies to the immediate north-west, on the other side of the Isle of Axholme and has never been part of the kingdom, while the isle has probably always been part of it.

Tribal Hidage (left) and Grammar of Ælfric (right)
The Tribal Hidage contains one of the rare early historical mentions of the Lindisware, although the British Library version shown here, Harley 3271, is an eleventh century miscellany which includes, amongst others, the Grammar of Ælfric, abbot of Eynsham

693

Æthelwine is succeeded by Edgar as the third bishop of Lindsey (693-729). Both men have trained in the highly ascetic Irish tradition, and the former is brother of Abbot Ealdwine of Bardney, while their sister is Æthelhild, abbess of the unnamed monastery near Partney in south-eastern Lindsey.

fl c.720?

Eanferð / Eanfrith

Son. Ealdorman? Mercian vassal.

729

Cyneberht succeeds Edgar as the fourth bishop of Lindsey and remains in office until 731. He is succeeded by Aluwioh (733-750), but before his departure he builds a cathedral in urbe, in a city, presumably Lincoln. Most probably it is St Peter at Pleas (since demolished).

731

FeatureWhen writing his Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum around this time, the Venerable Bede mentions several places for Lindsey, all of which lay within the kingdom's boundaries. He also appears to coin the word Northumbrian, to describe the Angles north of the Humber who are distinct from those to the south (although this opinion is open to considerable debate). The division appears to be a recent one, probably due to the rise of Mercian dominance and the removal of Lindsey from its traditional trans-Humber focus.

fl c.750?

Eatta

Son.

750

The sixth bishop of Lindsey is Aldwulf, who remains in office until 765. Ceolwulf succeeds him (765-796).

c.765 - 779

The Anglian Collection is probably compiled during this period in Northumbria, and contains the pedigrees for six Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, including Lindsey. By now the Lindisware are called the Lindfeana by the Northumbrian writers. Today, the earliest surviving of four copies is Mercian, from the first half of the ninth century. Lindsey's list is unusual in that it contains eleven generations instead of the standard fourteen back to Woden, which lends it a greater air of authority, although it is possible that some generations have been omitted to allow for the inclusion of mythical generations before Woden.

786 & 796

Aldfrið / Aldfrith

Son. Probably ruled at some point between these dates.

c.796

Aldfrið is the only certainty in the list of potential rulers for Lindsey. His genealogy, attached to the Tribal Hidage, shows his ancestors back to Winta, these being people who may have ruled Lindsey but for whom no concrete dates are known. Even Aldfrið lacks firm dating, as two charters which had previously been ascribed to him are now thought to have been signed instead by Ecgfrið, son of Offa of Mercia and briefly his heir. Coins issued by one Ealdfrið are now ascribed to Aldfrið of Northumbria, and it is thought that Lindsey did not issue its own coins.

During much of its existence Lindsey has been subject to Mercia or Northumbria, but from this point it is controlled directly by Mercia alone, until it is conquered by the Danes of the Scandinavian kingdom of York.

796

Bishop Ceolwulf of Lindsey is succeeded by Eadwulf, but dating for him and later bishops becomes uncertain. Only the appearance of their names as witnesses to charters helps to pinpoint them. Eadwulf remains in office until 836 or 839, to be succeeded by Beorhtræd in 836 or 839. He serves until 862 or 866, but his replacements are uncertain. Bishop Eadbald witnesses a charter in 866, and Bishop Burgheard is around in 869, But it cannot be certain that they are even bishops of Lindsey.

MapAnglo-Danish Lindsey

Aldfrið is generally accepted as being the last possible native ruler of Lindsey, whether a vassal or semi-independent. It was his pedigree that supplied the names of his predecessors, the probable kings of Lindsey. The kingdom was subsequently absorbed into Mercia and remained little more than a backwater district until the coming of the Vikings. Information on the region is very limited, but it seems not to have become an earldom in the way that Mercia, Wessex, Northumbria, and other former kingdoms did.

FeatureThe Anglo-Saxons of Lindsey became thoroughly absorbed by their new Danish overlords. A wide range of Scandinavian words and place names replaced their Anglo-Saxon predecessors. Coins found by archaeologists come from the farthest extent of the Scandinavian trading routes, and include Arab dirhams, probably brought up the Volga and through the lands of the Rus into the Baltic Sea. There was also an Irish presence in Lindsey, vassals and mercenaries who followed Ivarr the Boneless from Dublin to ravage and conquer England. Place names such as Scotter, Scothern, Scotton, and two locations called Irby are all Irish (mostly deriving from 'Scot', the name for Gaelic-speaking peoples). Even following the English recapture of the region, the loyalty of its people was thought unreliable, and Lindsey remained an obscure location until well into the Norman period.

(Additional information from The Landscape of King Arthur, Geoffrey Ashe, from The Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Lindsey, Kevin Leahy, from The Oxford History of England: The English Settlements, J N L Meyers, from Herefrith of Louth, Saint and Bishop; A Problem of Identities, A E B Owen, from Lincolnshire History and Archaeology, Vol XV, from the BBC series, King Alfred and the Anglo-Saxons, first broadcast from 6 August 2013, and from External Link: City of Gloucester.)

? - 841

Hereberht

Ealdorman. Senior figure in Lindsey, subject to Mercia?

841

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records the first Viking attack on Lindsey following a raid in the south. After that raid, in which an ealdorman is killed along with many of his men, a wave of raids occur along the east coast, in Kent, East Anglia, and Lindsey. Then there appears to be a lull in raids until 865, when the Great Army under Ivarr the Boneless arrives.

865 - 869

Ivarr the Boneless, king of Dublin, and his brothers, the sons of Ragnarr Lothbrok, lead the first Viking army to invade mainland Britain in search of conquest rather than pillage. Landing in East Anglia, they ravage the kingdom for a year before heading into Northumbria in 866, probably passing close to Lindsey along the way. In 867 the army again campaigns in the south of England, during the spring and summer. East Anglia falls in 869, after which the army moves north.

Vikings

c.873

St Herefrith or Herefrid of Louth is a possible last bishop of Lindsey before the Danish Great Army winters at Torksey in 872-873. The episcopal succession ceases following his death, possibly at the hands of the Danes. His remains are later moved by Ethelwold to Thorney, and the record of this event describes him as bishop of Lincoln. At Louth a church of St Herefrith (mentioned in several records of the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries) is later rededicated to St James in 1486, perhaps demonstrating the decline of St Herefrith's cult once his relics had been moved away.

879

The Danish army under Guthrum in England formalises its rule of eastern and northern territories under the Peace of Wedmore. Guthrum secures the Danish kingdom of East Anglia, founded to exist alongside the similarly-formed Scandinavian kingdom of York. Lindsey is generally presumed to be part of the Danelaw, and gains a high percentage of Danish place names. However, its later status as one of the 'Five Boroughs' of York means that there is a good deal of uncertainty about just who controls it.

Viking helmet

909

Æthelflaed of Mercia sends an army across the border with the Danelaw on a mission to recover the bones of St Oswald of Bernicia from their resting place at Bardney in Lindsey. She brings his 'heavenly power' to her newly-restored city of Gloucester. Recovered from a near-deserted ruin, the city preserves much of the Roman street plan (even today), while St Oswald's bones are placed in Æthelflaed's recently founded New Minster Church of St Oswald, making it a shrine of great importance.

918 - 920

If Lindsey is part of the Danelaw (which it does seem to be), then it is probably re-conquered by Wessex in this period. However, If it is part of York, or is taken over by York upon the collapse of the Danelaw, then it probably remains in Scandinavian hands until the fall of York in 927, when it is taken by Æthelstan of Wessex. Coin finds in modern Lincolnshire show links with York, but the process of Viking control has benefits. It wakes up sleepy Lincoln and turns it into a thriving, important trading city.

940

The region of the Spaldingas, situated around the Wash and now called Stamford, becomes one of York's Five Boroughs. Later in the century Stamford is merged with Lindsey to form the later county of Lincolnshire, although at least until Domesday Book it is recorded as Lindsey.

953 - 1011

The bishopric of Lincoln is revived twice, with the first incumbent, Leofwine, being described as the successor to Beorhtræd (who had left office in 862 or 866). He witnesses charters of kings Eadred and Edgar of England, first appearing in 953, and eventually becomes bishop of Dorchester, uniting this diocese with Lincoln. Later, Bishop Sigeferth of Lindsey witnesses five charters between 996 and 1004, probably followed by Ælfstan who witnesses charters in 1009 and 1011,

991

The Battle of Maldon on the Essex coast is lost when the Norwegian Viking forces of Olaf Tryggvason defeat those of the ealdorman of Essex, Byrhtnoth. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle criticises the lacklustre performance of the Englishmen of Lindsey, The historian Florence of Worcester explains the half-heartedness by calling the men of Lindsey 'Danes on their father's side', referring to their recent close links to York and the Danelaw. The defeat is viewed as a national tragedy, and weakens King Æthelred's already shaky authority. The Vikings begin to demand heavy tribute from England.

c.1054

Leofric and Godgifu of Mercia refound the church of St Mary at Stow by Lincoln, which had probably been founded around 975. The church is again refounded in 1091 by Bishop Remigius, this time as an abbey. However, the nave of the tenth century church cuts through seventeen burials from an earlier church, and the portacus cuts through a path that covers even earlier graves, showing a continuation of use going back several centuries.

St Mary at Stow
St Mary at Stow served as the diocese church for the bishops of Lindsey, and even today it contains an unusually large amount of surviving Anglo-Saxon material despite later Norman and Victorian rebuilding work

1115 - 1118

The Lindsey Survey is carried out in these years. It is this survey which records Lindsey's borders, which probably represent the ancient kingdom's borders from the mid-fifth century onwards. Lindsey and Stamford eventually settle into their new, combined role as the county of Lincolnshire and thereafter share the general fortunes of England.