North-west of England during the Anglo Saxon era

Jul 2019
3
North East of England
#1
Can anyone tell me or point out a webpage about what towns or villages were important in the north-west during the Anglo-Saxon era? I can find plenty of material for after the Norman conquest or during the Roman occupation, but very little for the few centuries in-between. The info I've found about Roman settlements suggests they were mostly abandoned after the Romans left. Anywhere else just seems to go back to the Doomsday Book at the earliest with no real indication as to how long the people had been there beforehand. There's a lot on the north-east with the Kingdom of Northumbria being part of the heptarchy, but the north-west seems a blank slate.
 
Apr 2019
103
Ireland
#2
As far as I know the area you speak of was part of the original British Kingdoms, there were periods where Mercia and Northumbria were in control, however following Northumbria's fall to the Vikings there was still influence from Strathclyde and the Dublin Vikings. Carlisle was part of Scotland in 1066.
First Scandanavian settlers in Northwest England - has some details about Lancashire and the Wirral (including a map). Not sure of other towns or settlements of note.
 
Jun 2015
5,716
UK
#3
Where Cumbria is now used to be part of the Strathclyde.
Lancashire was part of Anglo-Saxon Northumbria, but during the early 10th century Norse from Ireland raided and settled there. It's why there is a mix of Anglo-Saxon and Norse placenames in the region, especially in Merseyside. Everton and Aintree are near Crosby and Formby.

I think the lack of information is largely based on it being loosely populated. The east coast was where the Angles first came in and thus established Bernicia and Deira which became Northumbria.
 
Jul 2019
3
North East of England
#4
Thanks for that site, Gisco, it was an interesting read. And thanks too, notgivenaway, for your info. It agrees with one of the other articles on that site that says Lancashire was so sparsely populated before the tenth century that the Norse would have found it "almost untouched".

If that's true, I can't imagine Cumbria being much different. I've found references to Carlisle being inhabited in the sixth century as it was one of the royal residences of a King Urien, but that's about it.
 
Apr 2014
124
Liverpool, England
#5
Part of the problem is that right through the middle ages the north-west was the poorest and most backward part of England. Even the compilers of the Domesday Book began to lose interest and record less detail when they moved north of the River Mersey. All the great cathedrals and monastic churches are to be found on the east side of the Pennines - York, Beverley, Durham. There is nothing like these to the west and not much in the way of decent castles. All this began to change when trade with the American colonies became important, followed by the Industrial Revolution. That is not to say that there is no information, but most historians are too busy with the interesting stuff going on elsewhere to give much space to the north-west in the Saxon/Mediaeval period.
 
Jul 2019
3
North East of England
#6
Seems true. I'd been curious for a while as to why there was so little info on that region compared to most others. What you say makes sense. If all you found was some wooden huts and a few sheep, it'd be hard to generate the enthusiasm to look much further. :)
 

authun

Ad Honorem
Aug 2011
5,192
#7
Seems true. I'd been curious for a while as to why there was so little info on that region compared to most others. What you say makes sense. If all you found was some wooden huts and a few sheep, it'd be hard to generate the enthusiasm to look much further. :)
Towards the end of the roman period, Britain suffered a large marine transgression, creating many boggy areas or even areas with large amounts of standing water. The already marginal areas north of the Humber and of the Mersey were inundated and remained so until the middle of the 2nd millenium. Today we see this in the Mosses and Meres of Cheshire and Lancashire. Rivers like the Ribble and the Lune fed the area with water rather than drain the area of it.

As stated, the area was already marginal during the roman period and it was devoid of villas. It wasn't tied into the villa economy. Settlements too were less frequent than other parts of roman britain. The anglian settlement in the east benefitted from the inundation as it cut off places like the Yorkshire Wolds from the west. These upland areas were fertile, as evidenced by the number of villas the romans had built. There was no such potential in the west and of course, the available land in the east was sufficient for the people who settled there.




The flooded areas in Cheshire and Lancashire effectively cut off Cumbria and Strathclyde from the british west. There were places like the Eden Valley where land could be farmed but they were remote from either british or anglo saxon kings and so enforcing control over them, to extract tribute, was a lot of trouble for not much gain. It did happen, particularly under the Bernician Aethelfrith but he over extended himself and whilst, on paper, he pushed the map of his kingdom to the irish sea, he withdrew his men and his control was nominal. The land was of interest to people who wanted to carve out an existence for themselves, remote from kings and kingdoms for whom it became a sort of 'siberia'. They didn't really want it and were mainly concerned with making sure nobody else had it.
 

GogLais

Ad Honorem
Sep 2013
5,321
Wirral
#8
Towards the end of the roman period, Britain suffered a large marine transgression, creating many boggy areas or even areas with large amounts of standing water. The already marginal areas north of the Humber and of the Mersey were inundated and remained so until the middle of the 2nd millenium. Today we see this in the Mosses and Meres of Cheshire and Lancashire. Rivers like the Ribble and the Lune fed the area with water rather than drain the area of it.

As stated, the area was already marginal during the roman period and it was devoid of villas. It wasn't tied into the villa economy. Settlements too were less frequent than other parts of roman britain. The anglian settlement in the east benefitted from the inundation as it cut off places like the Yorkshire Wolds from the west. These upland areas were fertile, as evidenced by the number of villas the romans had built. There was no such potential in the west and of course, the available land in the east was sufficient for the people who settled there.




The flooded areas in Cheshire and Lancashire effectively cut off Cumbria and Strathclyde from the british west. There were places like the Eden Valley where land could be farmed but they were remote from either british or anglo saxon kings and so enforcing control over them, to extract tribute, was a lot of trouble for not much gain. It did happen, particularly under the Bernician Aethelfrith but he over extended himself and whilst, on paper, he pushed the map of his kingdom to the irish sea, he withdrew his men and his control was nominal. The land was of interest to people who wanted to carve out an existence for themselves, remote from kings and kingdoms for whom it became a sort of 'siberia'. They didn't really want it and were mainly concerned with making sure nobody else had it.
What are the maps showing? The captions are cut off on my screen. Thanks.
 
Apr 2014
124
Liverpool, England
#9
I am sadly under-informed about the late Roman flooding. Could this have a bearing on the fact that the Romans seem to have been unaware of any large estuary between the Dee and the Ribble? I believe there is a respectable theory that in Roman times the Mersey crossed the base of what is now the Wirral peninsula to join the Dee. As the pre-glacial route of the Mersey was undoubtedly along the present line, there would only have been a barrier of sand and clay for the sea to break through to restore the old channel.