Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Of chalk and ice: the white cliffs of Louth in the Palaeolithic era

The previous post in 'The History of the Louth Region' discussed the earliest evidence for human activity in eastern Lincolnshire, with a particular focus on the handaxes found in Welton le Wold quarry, which were probably used by pre- or ancestral Neanderthal hunters in the Hoxnian Interglacial around 400,000 years ago. This second posting continues the tale, discussing the period after the Hoxnian Interglacial through to the end of the last glacial period, nearly 15,000 years ago.

The climatic fluctuations of the last 800,000 years, with the present warm-period being stage 1 on the right-hand side of the graph (drawn by C. R. Green, based on Gibbard & Cohen). The climatic changes are based on the Marine Oxygen Isotope Record, with the Marine Isotope Stage numbering shown: cold stages are assigned even MIS numbers, warm stages odd ones. The Anglian glaciation is MIS 12, the Hoxnian Interglacial is MIS 11, and the warm Ipswichian Interglacial is MIS 5e. 

It is likely that the Louth region—like Britain as a whole—was largely abandoned by humans after the Hoxnian Interglacial ended, about 374,000 years ago. At that point, the global climate grew significantly colder as part of its regular oscillation between hot and cold periods over the past million years or so (see the above graph; the post-Hoxnian cold stage is MIS 10). Quite what happened after the climate warmed once more, nearly 40,000 years later, is difficult to say for sure, as we lack further, well-stratified Palaeolithic artefacts of the kind found at Welton. However, there have been other finds of Lower Palaeolithic handaxes from the Louth region. These have been made in Legbourne, Maidenwell, and Calcethope & Kelstern parishes, with the handaxe found in the latter parish believed to date, typologically, from around 280,000 years ago. As such, it is probable that early humans did continue to occasionally visit the region after the Hoxnian Interglacial, at least when the climate was warm enough to render the area reasonably habitable to them.

A Lower Palaeolithic handaxe from Calcethorpe & Kelstern (PAS)

Needless to say, such early humans—probably ancestral Neanderthals—are likely to have only been infrequent visitors to the region, and this irregular visitation probably ceased entirely around 191,000 years ago, when Britain once again entered a glacial epoch. The MIS 6 cold period has been recently defined as the Tottenhill Glaciation and appears to have been especially severe, with ice sheets once more flowing right over the top of the Wolds (as they did during the Anglian glaciation, 478,000–424,000 years ago) to cover the entire Louth region. In addition to probably eroding the Wolds further, these ice sheets are thought to have deposited the Welton Till on the Wolds as they melted and probably the Calcethorpe Till too ('glacial till', or boulder clay, is the sediment left behind by a glacier as it melts or retreats).

Lower Palaeolithic finds from the Louth region, set against a map of the modern region (drawn by C. R. Green, contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011). Any evidence for Lower Palaeolithic human activity east of the line running northwest-southeast is irretrievably lost, as this was eroded away by the sea around 115,000 years ago, during the Ipswichian Interglacial. The line marks the Ipswichian cliff-edge, which would have had a flint beach at its foot. As sea-levels fell again after this time, the exposed wave-cut platform become a flat plain.

The subsequent Ipswichian Interglacial (MIS 5e), beginning around 130,000 years ago, was even more significant for this region. This period was one of the warmest in recent geological history, and Britain from Yorkshire southwards was inhabited by exotic fauna including lions, hyenas, hippopotamuses, elephants and rhinoceroses—although humans appear not to have made it across to Britain from the Continent before Britain became an island due to rising sea-levels after the end of the Tottenhill Glaciation (MIS 6). It was also the era in which around half of the Palaeolithic landscape of our region disappeared. As was noted in the previous post, the Wolds originally extended well to the east of the current coastline, but in the Ipswichian Interglacial the sea gradually eroded this landscape away until it reached the modern eastern edge of the Wolds. The last glaciation, which saw ice sheets reach the Lincolnshire Wolds around 17,000 years ago, has covered the resultant Ipswichian landscape with glacial till (see below), but around 115,000 years ago the edge of the Wolds would have been marked by a line of white cliffs with a flinty beach at its foot and a wave-cut chalk platform extending eastwards from this: the present-day Louth hospital and cemetery stand roughly on this cliff-edge, and the Lincolnshire Marshes now lie above the ancient wave-cut platform.

Schematic cross-section of eastern Lincolnshire in the Palaeolithic period, showing how the Wolds once extended to the present coastline and beyond, and how they were eroded away around 115,000 years ago. From the landscape evolution of eastern Lincolnshire (drawn by C. R. Green).

The approximate coastline of Lincolnshire and Yorkshire around 115,000 years ago during the Ipswichian Interglacial; the current coastline is shown as a grey line (drawn by C. R. Green, based on IECS, 1994 with modifications).

After this period of warm temperatures and relatively high sea-levels came to an end, there was an erratic decline into the next cold epoch, MIS 4 (71,000–57,000 years ago). During this new cold period, both Britain and the Louth region probably experienced a climate close to that now found in northern Scandinavia, with temperatures dropping to about –20°C in winter months. Only after MIS 4 ended, around 57,000 years ago, did humans return to Britain once more. These new inhabitants were true Neanderthals, Homo neanderthalensis, and they were joined around 35,000 years ago by our own species of human, Homo sapiens. The period in which this recolonisation of Britain and Lincolnshire took place is sometimes termed a 'failed interglacial'—the climate then was unstable and swung from relatively mild to cold, with significant amounts of water remaining locked up in the ice sheets so that sea-levels remained as much as 80 metres lower than today. As a result, the Ipswichian wave-cut platform below the white cliffs of the Wolds would have been exposed as a dry, flat plain sloping gently eastwards in this epoch.

Schematic cross-section of eastern Lincolnshire, showing how the Ipswichian wave-cut platform became a dry, flat plain that was later scoured by the advance of the Late Devensian ice sheet to the Lincolnshire Wolds. From the landscape evolution of eastern Lincolnshire (drawn by C. R. Green).

Whilst it is likely that the flat plain to the east of the Wolds saw human activity as a result of the recolonisation of Britain, the evidence that might be used to confirm this has long-since been destroyed. The cause of this loss was the Late Devensian glaciation. This final 'Ice Age' before the current warm Holocene epoch saw Britain emptied of people once more approximately 25,000 years ago, with mean annual temperatures dropping as low as –6 or –7°C and midwinter temperatures of around –40°C, colder than parts of Siberia today! Radiocarbon dating indicates that the Late Devensian ice sheet arrived in Holderness around 22,000 years ago and and reached the Lincolnshire Wolds sometime around 17 ka BP, where it rose to a maximum of about 114 metres above the current sea-level (Ordnance Datum). At the same time, the development of these massive ice sheets both here and elsewhere led to global sea-levels dropping to approximately –120 metres (–395 feet) OD. As a direct result, the bottom of the North Sea became dry land as far north as Shetland, although both this plain and those parts of modern Britain that remained ice-free formed an uninhabitable arctic desert at the height of the Ice Age.

Lincolnshire and the surrounding region c. 17,000 years ago (drawn by C. R. Green, based on a map for Origins of Louth and Clark et al, 2004). The present-day coastline is shown as a grey line; areas covered by the ice sheet are in white, areas covered by probable or possible glacial lakes are in blue, and ice- and water-free land is in green. It should be noted that the large glacial lake to the south of the Wash is speculative and its existence has been disputed. No Vale of York ice is shown, as this had probably retreated north by this point.

This glaciation had a number of important effects on the Louth region. First, the advance of the massive ice sheet to the Lincolnshire Wolds would have scoured the flat plain that stretched eastwards from the sea-cliff edge of the Wolds and destroyed any archaeological remains that might have existed there. Second, the ice sheet prevented the rivers in this part of Britain draining properly, so that massive lakes such as ‘Lake Humber’ built up, inundating vast swathes of land (see the map, above). A similar effect at the local level led to the creation of Hubbard's Hills gorge—the blocking of the Hallington valley by decaying ice and its thick deposits of till meant that the water that would have drained along this valley from the springtime snowmelt on the Wolds backed up to form a large lake covering Hallington and Raithby, which then overflowed northwards across the chalk ridge. The resulting waterfall off the ridge into the Welton valley rapidly cut a steep-sided channel—Hubbard's Hills—backwards through the chalk over the course of perhaps as little as two or three hundred years, which thereafter acted as the new permanent channel for the Hallington and Raithby/Tathwell Becks.

The landscape of the Louth area at the time the Hubbard's Hills gorge was cut by water draining from a glacial lake covering Hallington and Raithby (drawn by C. R. Green, after Robinson, 2007; contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2014). Glacial ice is depicted as white, glacial moraine as brown and the glacial lake and meltwater river is shown in blue.

Third and finally, the ice sheet retreated northwards to leave the flat plain east of the Lincolnshire Wolds buried under a thick layer of glacial till—this undulating till forms the present Middle Marsh and underlies the Outmarsh, whilst also extended out beyond the current coastline onto the then-exposed North Sea plain, which began to slowly flood in the north around Scotland as sea-levels rose due to the glacial melt. Needless to say, the next post in the current series will be concerned with the early history of this newly created landscape in the eastern part of the Louth region, examining how it developed after the ice-sheet retreated and how the rising sea-levels of the present Holocene interglacial affected this region over the subsequent millennia.

Schematic cross-section of eastern Lincolnshire, showing how the post-Ipswichian flat plain east of the Wolds and the former sea-cliff were buried beneath a thick layer of glacial till as the ice-sheet melted. From the landscape evolution of eastern Lincolnshire (drawn by C. R. Green).

Possible stages in the retreat of the Devensian ice at the end of the last glaciation, with the maximum extent of the glaciation shown as the unbroken line (drawn by C. R. Green after IECS, 1994).

Next: North Somercotes, the drowning of Doggerland, & the Mesolithic Louth region (#3)
Previous: The Welton le Wold handaxes & the earliest human activity in the Louth region (#1)

Post Index of  'The History of the Louth Region'

'The History of the Louth Region' is based in part on The Origins of Louth: Archaeology and History in East Lincolnshire, 400,000 BC–AD 1086, which offers additional details and analysis, along with suggested further reading. The content of this page, including any original illustrations, is Copyright © Caitlin R. Green, 2014, All Rights Reserved, and should not be used without permission.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

'Hells of intemperance': three of the worst pubs in Victorian Louth

The pubs of Louth feature frequently in the Victorian newspapers and court reports that I looked at in my Streets of Louth a few years back. Some of these establishments, like the Turks Head (arguably the oldest surviving inn in town) appear to have been fairly law-abiding places, seeing only occasional brushes with the law for minor infractions. Others, however, appear to have been rather more disreputable, and three of the most notorious of Louth's Victorian pubs are highlighted below.

(1) The Rag & Louse, Aswell Hole

The Rag & Louse was a Victorian beerhouse and 'tramp lodging-house' located in the Aswell Hole, down the horse-steps from Aswell Lane (now Aswell Street), a location it shared with an extensive spring-fed pool and number of brothels, according to the newspaper reports of the early to mid-Victorian period. It was officially called the Lord Nelson, but it appears to have been more usually known by the rather less salubrious name of the Rag & Louse. From the 1840s, it was run by Patrick Kayes—'a son of the Emerald Isle'—and his family, and it may have been related to the brewhouse and 'private brewery' that was located in the Aswell Hole in 1837, 'immediately adjoining the Aswell Spring'. The premises themselves must have been fairly extensive, as in 1851 there were 23 people staying in the establishment, including a large number of agricultural labourers and a beggar.

Aswell Hole, off Aswell Lane, showing the pool, spring and buildings here as they appeared in 1834 (plan by R. S. Bayley, 1834).

As a beerhouse, the Rag & Louse appears to have been just as pleasant as its name suggests. The newspapers of the time recorded it as the site of a considerable number of disturbances of the peace and it was described by one correspondent (William Brown) as 'notorious' for its bad behaviour, great noise and disorder, with stolen items being fairly regularly discovered in its rooms and drunken brawls erupting out into the Aswell Hole between its patrons. Of course, the Rag & Louse was not the sole cause of disturbances in Aswell Hole in the early and mid-Victorian period—the Hole was also the scene of what looks to have been a mass fight between the prostitutes of neighbouring Spring Gardens in 1846, and in 1848 six young men were each sentenced to two months hard labour for rolling a lighted tar barrel down the horse steps of Aswell Hole at 10pm at night! Nonetheless, one of the more disturbing incidents did begin there. In November 1865, an Irishman named Martin Monaghan, of Westgate Cottages on Irish Hill (now demolished), was charged by John Gibbons, 'a fellow-countryman and neighbour', with a 'most brutal and unmanly assault' that saw Monaghan bite off the whole of Gibbons' lower lip. The appearance of the victim in court was described as horrible, with the whole lip torn away. Apparently, Gibbons had been drinking in 'Pat Kaye's beer-shop in Aswell-hole' when the altercation started, although the final assault took place on Irish Hill, when Monaghan challenged Gibbons to a fight during which he took hold of Gibbons’ lip with his teeth and bit it off. Monaghan was, incidentally, fined only 30s for the injury to Gibbons (equivalent to around £109 today), which he paid and so avoided a short prison sentence.

The view up to Aswell Street from Aswell Hole in 2014 (image © Copyright Chris and licensed for reuse under a CC BY-SA 2.0 licence).

The Rag & Louse was finally refused a renewal to its licence in 1869 and the property subsequently appears to have continued solely as a lodging house—it continued to play this role as late as 1901 and 1911, when it was still run by a member of the Kayes family and offered rooms to up to twelve patrons, including two Italians who were travelling with a piano organ!

(2) The Dog & Duck, Upgate

The Dog & Duck beerhouse was located almost directly opposite the chancel of St James’s Church, between Chequergate and Eastgate and had been newly built in 1832, its first landlord being one Thomas Wakelin. In 1846, Joseph Johnson was the landlord and he was charged by Sergeant Chapman and Police Constable Ryall with allowing prostitutes to assemble and drink in his beerhouse at night. The following year he appeared again before the court, when he was accused of resisting and refusing to admit two police officers into the Dog & Duck. The policemen entered the Dog & Duck on the night of the 5 January and attempted to go upstairs, at which point Johnson grabbed Police Constable Ryall around the neck to prevent him doing so, calling out "here's the police"! Forcing their way upstairs, the constables encountered around twenty men and prostitutes dancing, and the defendant's wife pulling other prostitutes into a bedroom. PC Ryall attempted to see into the bedroom to identify the prostitutes, but was refused entry. Joseph Johnson had apparently been charged with similar offences in the past, his beer house being one of 'notoriously bad character’, and he was fined £2 plus costs on this occasion—that is around £150 today, adjusted for inflation! By 1852, Johnson had been replaced by Benjamin Turner as the landlord of the Dog and Duck, but he seems to have been equally uncooperative with the police, being severely reprimanded by the magistrates on the 24 December 1852 for refusing to admit the police into his beerhouse and permitting drunkenness in the Dog & Duck.

The site of the former Dog & Duck, opposite St James's Church, Louth; the Dog & Duck was the second building visible on the left of the image. Photo © 2014 Google.

(3) The Marrowbone & Cleaver, Queen Street

This short-lived but notorious beerhouse was located somewhere on Walkergate (modern Queen Street) and was run by Samuel Walker in the late 1830s. In March 1839, the Marrowbone & Cleaver was raided by the police, who had been informed that Walker was running it as a brothel by parents who told Police Constable Ryall that 'their children had been ruined by resorting to Walker's house'. When inside they found 16 prostitutes all aged between 13 and 18, according to the final reports, who were said to be dancing to the music of two fiddles along with a number of local 'bad characters'. One of the girls, Elizabeth Stone (who seems to have been 13 and, it is said, already 'diseased'), was apparently given a 'fatherly lecture' by the magistrate, Samuel Trought, Esq., before being sent back to the House of Correction, where she had been committed for a month as a prostitute; Walker, in contrast, was fined £5 and costs, equivalent to around £350 today, and then appears to have spent the following months trying to avoid paying his fine, apparently with some success.

Modern Queen Street; the exact location of the Marrowbone & Cleaver is unfortunately unclear. Photo © 2014 Google.

The Marrowbone & Cleaver had closed down by 1850, when it was operated as a lodging-house by James Marchant. However, despite no longer being a beerhouse, the building continued to cause trouble for local law enforcement. In that year, it was the scene of a three-hour fight between two families of lodgers who lived there and some of the local residents. According to newspaper reports, one of the lodgers (Michael Mitchell) was liberated from prison in the morning, where he had been incarcerated for drunkenness, and the lodgers then proceeded to have a celebration at the former Marrowbone & Cleaver involving rum and a fiddler. A row began which erupted into the public street and the resulting fight came to rapidly involve the local residents of the area, at its height encompassing around 20 people and implements ranging from mallets, chisels and kettles to saws, knives, irons and hammers! When the local police force appeared to break the fight up, the families retreated into the lodging-house, barricaded themselves in and then engaged in a battle with the police to prevent them from entering and arresting them, a battle they eventually lost.

The content of this page, including any original illustrations, is Copyright © Caitlin R. Green, 2014, All Rights Reserved, and should not be used without permission. It is based in part on my book, The Streets of Louth, which offers additional details on the early history of the streets and buildings mentioned above and is available to buy as a paperback.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Havelok and the British kings of ‘Lincoln and Lindesi’

In contrast to other parts of eastern and southern Britain, the Lincoln region is not well served in terms of early narratives that are explicitly concerned with the post-Roman period here. Certainly, there is nothing approaching the pre-Viking legends of Ida, Hengest and their descendants recorded by Bede and the Historia Brittonum for Northumbria and Kent, nor the stories of Cerdic and the origins of Wessex found in the ‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’. From a purely historical perspective, this is, perhaps, not of particular concern. Although the material relating to Ida and his family in mid–late sixth-century Bernicia has often been seen as reasonably credible, the fifth- and earlier sixth-century events placed in Wessex and Kent have been the subject of considerable scholarly scepticism in recent years.(1) Nonetheless, it is still worth asking just what legends were recorded about post-Roman Lincolnshire in medieval sources, both because of the intrinsic interest of such materials and in order to ask whether the post-Roman British and Anglo-Saxon polities that once existed in this region (*Lindēs and Lindissi/Lindsey, see further below) were forgotten by later generations. In this context, one legend in particular stands out as being of especial interest, namely that of Havelok the Dane.(2)

Geoffrey Gaimar includes the earliest surviving version of the Havelok tale in his Estoire des Engleis (c. 1136–50), and both here and in the other early witnesses to the tale – the Lai d’Haveloc and the Anglo-Norman prose Brut (3) – the framing of the tale is quite clear and specific: it appears to be set in a post-Roman, British kingdom of ‘Lincoln and Lindesi’ (Nincole e Lindesi).(4) The starting point of the tale is that Edelsi, king of ‘Lincoln and Lindesi’ and ‘a Briton’,(5) has married his sister (Orwain) to the neighbouring Danish king of East Anglia, Adelbrit, with whom she then has a daughter named Argentille. Adelbrit dies and the British princess and her daughter subsequently return to Lindesi to live with King Edelsi, although Orwain herself passes away soon after. Edelsi is made regent of Adelbrit’s territory, but decides to keep it for himself by marrying his half-British niece to Havelok, a cook, in order to dishonour her and so dispossess her. The story proper develops from this point, and during the course of it Havelok learns of his royal Danish origins and travels overseas to claim and win his true inheritance, having numerous adventures as a result. At the very end of the tale he returns to Britain to win back his wife’s Danish kingdom of East Anglia from the usurping Edelsi. The British king of ‘Lincoln and Lindesi’ is defeated by Havelok and he dies five days later, leaving no male heirs, so that the kingdom of Lindesi also passes to his niece and hence out of British control and into Danish.(6)

We thus have in the Estoire des Engleis a tale which is set in a British kingdom of ‘Lincoln and Lindesi’, which involves a marriage between a British princess and a Germanic king, and which sees the British control of this kingdom coming to an end at some point in or around the sixth century.(7) It has to be said that it is difficult to avoid comparing this framework for the Havelok story with the historical situation that recent work has argued for in the Lincoln region, whereby a British territory called *Lindēs was based at Lincoln and probably survived at least part-way into the sixth century, before being taken over to form the kingdom of Lindissi/Lindsey by an Anglo-Saxon group which had potentially previously intermarried with the British elite of Lincoln.(8) Of course, we do need to be very aware of the dangers of making too much of such a comparison. Not only was Gaimar writing romance, rather than history, around half a millennium after the events he purports to describe, but he was also familiar with Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae. This was a work which peopled post-Roman Britain with otherwise unknown fifth- and sixth-century British rulers, as well as reporting mixed marriages between the native British elite and the Germanic immigrants (as in the marriage between Hengest’s daughter and Vortigern).(9) As such, it is certainly possible that Gaimar’s framework was entirely his own invention, inspired by Geoffrey of Monmouth’s ‘re-imagining’ of post-Roman British history, and that its apparent appropriateness is simply the result of a coincidence. On the other hand, there are potential reasons for thinking that such a verdict may go too far and that Gaimar’s account could, in some way, derive from local Lincolnshire legends that referred to the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Lindissi/Lindsey and its British past.(10)

One of these reasons is that Gaimar appears to have written the Estoire des Engleis whilst in Lincolnshire, and his version of the Havelok tale as a whole seems to have been heavily influenced by local Lincolnshire material and concerns.(11) Indeed, whether or not all surviving later literary versions of the story are derivative of Gaimar’s (as some have argued (12)), there is clear evidence that the Havelok story as a whole had a secure place in Lincolnshire storytelling, with versions existing other than those that survive, as witnessed by the medieval Grimsby seal.(13) Naturally, such a situation makes the possibility of Gaimar having some local and pre-existing legendary sources for his framing-tale more plausible, and this becomes even more the case when we turn to Gaimar’s own statements on the matter. Whilst the version of Havelok that we have in the Estoire des Engleis is certainly to some degree Gaimar’s creation, Gaimar does actually specifically mention pre-existing sources for the framing-tale of Edelsi, Adelbrit, Orwain and Argentille in the Estoire, including a reference to an oral source for the events surrounding Argentille at Lincoln (Si cum dient l’antive gent, ‘as the old people say’).(14) In this context, it would seem perfectly credible that at least some elements of the scene-setting account of the British kingdom of Lindesi, and the events surrounding the marriage of a British princess from this kingdom to a Germanic king, did derive from pre-existing Lincolnshire legends, which Gaimar encountered and utilized as part of the framework for his literary tale of Havelok.

Another reason for believing that Gaimar was influenced by a remembrance, however vague, of Lindissi/Lindsey and its British past, is provided by Robert Mannyng of Bourne’s ‘Chronicle’ (also known as ‘The Story of England’). This was completed in 1338 in Lincolnshire, perhaps partly at Sempringham Priory in south Lincolnshire and partly at Sixhills Priory in modern Lindsey.(15) Mannyng’s ‘Chronicle’ is essentially a reasonably faithful translation into Middle English of Wace’s Anglo-Norman Roman de Brut (1155) and Peter Langtoft’s Anglo-French ‘Chronicle’ (written c. 1307, in the East Riding of Yorkshire). The particular interest comes only when Mannyng deviates from his source in order to add elements which seem to derive from local Lincolnshire tradition. As Thorlac Turville-Petre has observed, ‘He [Mannyng] has a sure understanding of what will appeal to his audience, as well as an appreciation and knowledge of stories circulating among “lewed” men in the locality.’(16) One example of this is his insertion of Havelok’s adventures into the ‘Chronicle’, in a version clearly not derived from Gaimar or related texts, but rather from local written sources and oral folklore.(17) More important from our perspective, however, is the fact that Mannyng consistently alters his source (Langtoft’s ‘Chronicle’) when it speaks of the eighth- and early ninth-century Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia, so that it instead refers to the kingdom of ‘Lindsey’.

This consistent alteration is, in itself, most curious. The kings of Wessex, whose deeds Mannyng relates, remain kings of Wessex, and so too do the kings of Essex retain their kingdoms. Yet, whenever Mannyng comes across an early king of Mercia, he makes him a king of Lindsey, so that we read (for example) of ‘Offa, kyng of Lyndsay’ rather than the ‘Offa, ray de Merce’ of Langtoft.(18) When this has been noticed at all by historians of Lincolnshire, it has been simply dismissed as Mannyng getting ‘confused’, although it would seem a strange confusion and one not repeated for other kings and kingdoms.(19) To some degree, Mannyng’s unfailing substitution of Lindsey for Mercia in his account of the eighth and earlier ninth centuries (the first king to be ‘kyng of Merce’ for Mannyng is Wiglaf, who ruled in the late 820s and 830s) can be seen as an extension and standardization of Langtoft’s occasional and unpredictable use of ‘Lindesey’ for ‘Merce’ when talking about seventh-century Mercia, which is itself deserving of investigation.(20) However, the above seems – on its own – an insufficient explanation of why every early Mercian king becomes consistently a king of Lindsey for Mannyng, when they are not so in his chief source or in the authoritative medieval histories that he claims to have read, such as those of Bede, William of Malmesbury and Henry of Huntingdon.(21) One has to ask why, in this context, Mannyng did not instead standardize on Mercia as the kingdom-name, in light of Langtoft’s very irregular usage and the fact that Mercia is the name used by his other historical authorities. Given Mannyng’s demonstrable interest in local tales, a fuller explanation of this situation would perhaps most credibly involve seeing these changes as constituting further evidence for an awareness in Lincolnshire of the lost kingdom of Lindissi/Lindsey. On this basis, Mannyng’s additional alterations and standardization on Lindsey might be thought to reflect a Lincolnshire chauvinism resulting from this awareness of Lindissi, and a desire to claim – through appropriation – a place in history for this local kingdom which had none of its own recorded in the extant historical sources, aside from a few passing references by Bede. Indeed, Mannyng may have also been motivated in this by a movement in the opposite direction by the Anglo-Norman historians whom he knew with regard to even these few references. So, whilst in Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica St Oswald’s bones were taken to ‘a famous monastery in the kingdom of Lindsey called Bardney’, when William of Malmesbury retells this episode the bones are instead said to have been taken to ‘Bardney, which is in the country of the Mercians, not far from the city of Lincoln’.(22)

This suspicion of a local awareness of the kingdom of Lindissi/Lindsey influencing the narrative of Mannyng’s ‘Chronicle’ and its references to Lindsey provides the essential context for another of Mannyng’s alterations. Not only does he make the eighth- and ninth-century kings of Mercia kings of Lindsey, but he also makes it very clear that his kings of Lindsey were considered to be at least partially British by descent. Thus we find ‘Eadbald… kyng of Lyndesay, He was of þe Bretons kynde’,(23) and a little later on we are told of Egbert of Wessex’s wars against the Britons,(24) with the comment that many of these oppressed Britons ‘fled to Lynday, socour forto haue, To þe kyng Bernewolf, þat was Breton’ – that is, they fled for support to King Bernewolf of Lindsey, who was a fellow Briton.(25) Needless to say, there is no suggestion in any of the early sources that the Mercian kings whom Mannyng was reinventing as kings of Lindsey were Britons. This concept seems only to appear in Mannyng’s ‘Chronicle’ and, as such, it is very difficult to explain. One might, of course, suggest that Mannyng was influenced here by Gaimar’s concept of a British king of ‘Lincoln and Lindesi’, but Mannyng himself makes it very clear that he had never read Gaimar nor come across his particular version of the Havelok tale, with its very specific post-Roman British framework (Mannyng’s version has a different framework, involving an Anglo-Saxon king).(26) In such circumstances, although a coincidental and spontaneous invention of a British descent for the kings of ‘Lindesay’ – and no one else – by Mannyng cannot be entirely ruled out, the easiest solution is perhaps that Gaimar’s concept of a British kingdom of ‘Lincoln and Lindesi’ did indeed have at least some genuine roots in local Lincolnshire tradition, with these roots then later independently informing Mannyng’s ‘Chronicle’ and his decision to transform the kings of Mercia into British kings of ‘Lindesay’.

In conclusion, the Estoire des Engleis of Geoffrey Gaimar and the ‘Chronicle’ of Robert Mannyng provide an interesting insight into medieval conceptions of the pre-Viking Lincoln region. In particular, when taken together these two Lincolnshire texts seem to suggest that the existence of the kingdom of Lindissi had not been completely forgotten there, and also that this remembrance included at least a vague recollection of the British origins of this kingdom. Certainly, this would help to explain the rather curious coincidence of two local and apparently well-informed authors independently telling tales of British kings of Lindesi/‘Lindesay’, with Gaimar specifically referring to an oral source for some aspects of his tale. How much more than vague legends existed before Gaimar wrote is, of course, very much open to debate and probably unanswerable, despite the fact that his tale of an Anglian–British marriage would seem to fit what can be reconstructed from the few surviving early sources. Once again, we do need to be wary of taking late romance and pseudo-history too seriously, and we have probably already gone as far as is safe. The only possible hint that such a position might be worthy of some consideration comes from the name of the British princess who is married off to the Germanic king in the Estoire des Engleis and is the mother of the half-British child that results from this union. Her name is variously given in the Anglo-Norman texts as Orwain, Orwein, Orwenne, Orewain and similar. Even though Gaimar seems to have found her in Lincolnshire oral tradition (his mention of an oral source occurs in reference to the fate of Orwain and Argentille when they return to Lincoln (27)), this name is not of Scandinavian or Old English derivation, but instead appears to be Welsh. As to its meaning, it is possible that this Anglo-Norman form derives from Archaic Welsh *Ouruenn, ‘white as gold’, the root of the Welsh name Eurwen, borrowed before the change *our- > eur-.(28) Such an etymology would certainly fit well with the name of Orwain’s daughter in both the Anglo-Norman and Middle English versions of Havelok (Argentille, Goldborow) and, if correct, would obviously be of considerable interest in the present context.


1 For example, B. Yorke, ‘Fact or fiction? The written evidence for the fifth and sixth centuries AD’, Anglo-Saxon Studies in Archaeology and History, 6 (1993), 45–50; D. Rollason, Northumbria, 500–1100. Creation and Destruction of a Kingdom (Cambridge, 2003), p. 6; N. J. Higham, The Kingdom of Northumbria, AD 350–1100 (Stroud, 1993), p. 79.
2 See Green, ‘The British kingdom of Lindsey’, Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies, 56 (2008), 38–43, for an earlier version of this discussion.
3 A. Bell (ed.), Le Lai d’Haveloc and Gaimar’s Haveloc Episode (Manchester, 1925); J. Marvin, ‘Havelok in the Prose Brut tradition’, Studies in Philology, 102 (2005), 280–306.
4 The form Nincole reflects the regular Anglo-Norman spelling of Lincoln. For the dating of Gaimar’s text, see A. Bell (ed.), L’Estoire des Engleis (Oxford, 1960), pp. li–lii; I. Short, ‘Gaimar's epilogue and Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Liber vetustissimus’, Speculum, 69.2 (1994), 323–43; P. Dalton, ‘The date of Geoffrey Gaimar’s Estoire des Engleis, the connections of his patrons, and the politics of Stephen’s reign’, Chaucer Review, 42.1 (2007), 24–47. The events of the story are said to have taken place in the reign of King Arthur’s successor, Constantine, which is to say in the mid-sixth century, given that Geoffrey of Monmouth dates Arthur’s death to 542 (Historia Regum Britanniae, XI.2) and Gaimar’s framework here is based on Geoffrey’s work. Note, however, that Gaimar later seems to imply (line 817 onwards) that the arrival of Cerdic in 495 took place after Havelok’s deeds, which does confuse the issue somewhat.
5 Gaimar, L’Estoire des Engleis, ed. Bell, lines 48, 59.
6 Gaimar, L’Estoire des Engleis, lines 1–816.
7 Above, note 4.
8 See Green, ‘British Kingdom’; Green, Britons and Anglo-Saxons: Lincolnshire AD 400–650 (Lincoln, 2012), especially pp. 56–162. Note, the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Lindissi is often known as Lindsey, although it is likely that it encompassed a much larger area than the modern Lincolnshire district of Lindsey does.
9 Geoffrey of Monmouth, Historia Regum Britanniae, VI.12–13.
10 See G. V. Smithers (ed.), Havelok (Oxford, 1987), pp. xxxii–xxxiii, for some tentative thoughts in this direction.
11 S. Kleinman, ‘The legend of Havelok the Dane and the historiography of East Anglia’, Studies in Philology, 100 (2003), 245–77; Smithers, Havelok, especially pp. lxxviii, lxxxix; Bell, L’Estoire des Engleis, pp. ix–xi, li – note, the later Middle English version of the tale was probably also composed in Lindsey, and the tale is linked to the foundation-legend of Grimsby. I am highly sceptical of attempts to hypothesize an origin for the Havelok tale in the north of England purely on the basis of the name Haveloc and his nickname Cuaran, which are claimed to reflect a tenth-century Viking called Anlaf Cwiran found in the ‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’. If this speculative connection is pursued then, in light of the fact that there are no obvious links between Anlaf Cwiran’s life and Havelok’s tale other than the name, the connection ought to be seen as simply one of a name being borrowed and substituted into a tale and cast of characters with which it had no previous relationship, as Kleinman suggests (264–5; A. Bell, ‘Gaimar’s early “Danish” kings’, Proceedings of the Modern Language Association, 65 (1950), 632–5).
12 Smithers, Havelok, pp. xxxii–lvi; Kleinman, ‘Legend of Havelok’.
13 See N. M. Bradbury, ‘The traditional origins of Havelok the Dane’, Studies in Philology, 90 (1993), 119–25, supported recently by Marvin, ‘Prose Brut Tradition’, 305.
14 Gaimar, L’Estoire des Engleis, line 93. Kleinman (‘Legend of Havelok’) demonstrates that Gaimar played a key role in creating the literary tale, but this does not mean that Gaimar invented the actual story, especially as he cites pre-existing written and oral tales. Rather, he seems to have created the literary tale out of already existing stories, materials and traditions. Laura Ashe argues for key elements of the Havelok narrative deriving from Anglo-Saxon story-telling (‘“Exile-and-return” and English law: the Anglo-Saxon inheritance of insular romance’, Literature Compass, 3 (2008), 300–17). Gaimar’s other stated source for his framing-tale is of written origin and looks to have been a lost version of the ‘Gildasian recension’ of the Historia Brittonum – a text that Gaimar does seem to have used elsewhere in his Estoire des Engleis – which apparently included a section telling of Adelbrit and Edelsi (Gaimar, L’Estoire des Engleis, line 39 onwards; A. Bell, ‘Further glossarial notes on Gaimar’s “Estoire des Engleis”’, The Modern Language Review, 49 (1954), 316–17).
15 See R. Crosby, ‘Robert Mannyng of Brunne: a new biography’, Proceedings of the Modern Language Association, 57 (1942), 15–28, and E. Seaton, ‘Robert Mannyng of Brunne in Lincoln’, Medium Ævum, 12 (1943), 77, for what we can know of Mannyng’s life and movements around Lincolnshire.
16 T. Turville-Petre, ‘Poetry and politics in the early fourteenth century: the case of Robert Manning’s Chronicle’, Review of English Studies, 39 (1988), 22.
17 T. Hearne (ed.), Peter Langtoft's Chronicle, as Illustrated and Improv'd by Robert of Brunne (2 vols, Oxford, 1725), vol. 1, pp. 25–6; Turville-Petre, ‘Poetry and politics’, 22–3; W. W. Skene and K. Sisam (eds.), The Lay of Havelok the Dane, 2nd edn (Oxford, 1915), pp. xvi–xvii.
18 Robert Mannyng, Chronicle, 1, p. 10 for Offa, and see also pp. 8, 9, 14; T. Wright (ed. and trans.), The Chronicle of Pierre de Langtoft (2 vols, London, 1866–8), vol. 1, pp. 294–5.
19 G. Platt, Land and People in Medieval Lincolnshire (Lincoln, 1985), p. 292.
20 Pierre de Langtoft, Chronicle, 1, pp. 232, 250, 256.
21 Mannyng mentions Bede and others throughout his work: for example, Robert Mannyng, Chronicle, 1, pp. 1, 6, 25–6.
22 Bede, Historia Ecclesiastica, III.11; William of Malmesbury, Gesta Regum Anglorum, ed. R. A. B. Mynors et al (Oxford, 1998), I.49.8. That Mannyng was not an impartial translator, but rather one with agendas of his own, has been demonstrated by Turville-Petre (‘Poetry and politics’). See also R. Knight, ‘Stealing Stonehenge: translation, appropriation, and cultural identity in Robert Mannyng of Brunne’s Chronicle’, Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, 32 (2002), 41–58.
23 Robert Mannyng, Chronicle, 1, p. 8. Eadbald = Æthelbald of Mercia, king AD 716–57.
24 See the ‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’, s.a. 815, 825, and perhaps 830 (trans. D. Whitelock et al in The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: A Revised Translation (London, 1961), pp. 39–40); William of Malmesbury, Gesta Regum Anglorum, I.106.3.
25 Robert Mannyng, Chronicle, 1, p. 14. Bernewolf = Beornwulf of Mercia, king AD 823–6; see N. P. Brooks, The Early History of the Church of Canterbury (London, 1984), pp. 136–7, 352–3, on Beornwulf and his dates.
26 Robert Mannyng, Chronicle, 1, pp. 25–6. Mannyng’s framework appears to be similar to that of the early fourteenth-century Middle English Havelok, which has been argued to reflect a revisionist account of the Viking settlements (T. Turville-Petre, ‘Havelok and the History of the Nation’ in C. M. Meale (ed.), Readings in Medieval English Romance (Cambridge, 1994), pp. 121–34).
27 Gaimar, L’Estoire des Engleis, line 93; see Kleinman, ‘Legend of Havelok’, 252.
28 Green, ‘British Kingdom’, 43 fn. 167; P. Sims-Williams, The Celtic Inscriptions of Britain. Phonology and Chronology, c. 400–1200 (Oxford, 2003), p. 226; P. Schrijver, Studies in British Celtic Historical Phonology (Amsterdam, 1995), pp. 271–2. K. H. Jackson, Language and History in Early Britain (Edinburgh, 1953), p. 698, assigns the change to the ‘later tenth century’. See Bell, L’Estoire des Engleis, p. 208, for an alternative theory involving a literary borrowing of the name from a Celtic-Latin source by Gaimar, though this might seem difficult to reconcile with the implication that Gaimar derived his knowledge of the fate of Orwain and Argentille from a pre-existing oral source.

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