North-west of England during the Anglo Saxon era

authun

Ad Honorem
Aug 2011
5,219

authun

Ad Honorem
Aug 2011
5,219
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.

They will have known which areas were prone to flooding and avoided them. Eventually, at some point in the mid 4rd century it did flood but the waters did not recede. I have never studied the west side but this is a DEM map I made of the eastern side with the roman roads superimposed. Even today, the A1 route, Doncaster, Castleford, Tadcaster etc is called the roman ridge road. The Humberhead levels were very marshy and prone to flooding, so they avoided them. Later, it flooded and some roman archaeology is found under as much as 3m of marine deposit.

humberwetlands.gif

You can see where the Isle of Axeholm is, to the west of the Lincolnshire Edge.

The marshes were nearly all drained by the dutch engineer Cornelius Vermuyden in the Elizabethan era. Nonetheless, a few parts remain, here at Skipwith:

skipwithcommon.jpg
 
Apr 2014
296
Liverpool, England
Would this be a purely local phenomenon or something more widespread? I can imagine that the icecaps were still retreating leading to a rise in sea level - perhaps then counteracted by the slow rise of the land with the weight of ice removed.
 
Apr 2014
296
Liverpool, England
"Well I heard somebody say so and it wasn’t just a bloke in the pub."

I got it from one of the Lancashire and Cheshire Historical Society's annual volumes many years ago. One piece of evidence quoted was that tributaries generally join a larger river flowing in the same general direction. The streams flowing into the Mersey estuary around Liverpool and Birkenhead are mostly headed in the wrong direction. There is a splendid viaduct on the north side of the railway bridge over the Mersey estuary at Runcorn - interrupted by a short but very high embankment. This is because the bedrock at this point falls away, being lower down than under the bridge - marking the pre-glacial route of the river. The same ancient valley turned up when the Mersey Railway tunnel was being dug between Liverpool and Birkenhead, which is why the gradient on the Liverpool side is 1 in 27 as the engineers tried to keep their tunnel in the rock.
 

authun

Ad Honorem
Aug 2011
5,219
Would this be a purely local phenomenon or something more widespread? I can imagine that the icecaps were still retreating leading to a rise in sea level - perhaps then counteracted by the slow rise of the land with the weight of ice removed.
It happened in several places around the north sea.




Dunkirk transgression - Wikipedia

There are a number of causes, from sand blown dunes altering river flows to changes to the rock strata, usually tilting, altering water flows, rising or sinking. They are not lways associated with glacial meltwater. Places like Stockholm were under water 1000 years ago. The land there is rising rapidly.
 
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Apr 2019
122
Ireland
Since the retreat of the glaciers from Northern Europe at the end of the last glaciation period, the removal of the weight of Ice has caused Scandinavia to rise from the sea. Similarly Northern Britain (parts of Scotland) have experienced the same phenomena. Conversely parts of the South of England have subsided, take the case of the Thames barrier as an example. In the long term, the disappearance of Doggerland, the creation of the Island of Britain and the Baltic spilling into the North Sea have all been a consequence of the retreated ice.
 
Jan 2019
17
York, UK
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.
Any chance of a link to these maps to improve quality
 
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Apr 2014
296
Liverpool, England
Going back to the state of north-west England, in the Middle Ages some large parts of Lancashire were given over to cattle ranching (vaccaries). It was cowboy country.
 

Peter Graham

Ad Honorem
Jan 2014
2,694
Westmorland
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.
Carlisle and Chester are the most obvious candidates for towns. I know more about Cumbria than Lancashire or Cheshire and more about the early Anglo-Saxon period than the later, but understand Chester was depopulated and might even have been abandoned before being resettled again at some point, presumably in the seventh century where we begin to see the emergence of Anglo-Saxon trading towns.

Carlisle was never abandoned in the early Anglo-Saxon period. It was gifted to Cuthbert in the late seventh century and surviving hagiographies of Cuthbert make it clear that by the 670s, it was an ecclesiastical centre with townspeople, a still-working Roman fountain and a praepositus in charge. This man may have been Cuthbert's reeve.

Lancaster has to be another possibility, but I know of no definitive evidence.

Cumbria also had a number of rural foci, often (but not always) based close to one-time Roman forts. These included Birdoswald, Stanwix, Papcastle and Maryport and probably also included other sites such as Netherby, Low Furness, Kentdale and the middle Eden valley. Early religious activity is confirmed at Dacre (Bede mentions the monastery under construction there) and Bewcastle, is strongly suspected at Workington and Maryport. It may also have been ongoing at a number of other sites, inclduing Low Furness and Castlehead on the Cartmel peninsula. Hill forts are uncommon, but a small one at Shoulthwaite near Thirlmere Reservoir shows a construction date of the seventh century. A clutch of 'car' names (a place name element deriving from caer, meaning 'castle') hints at other sites, although there is a debate about whether these sites are early or late Saxon. Also worth bearing in mind that labels such as early Saxon have less resonance in the north west.
 
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