Angles, Danes and Norse in the District of Huddersfield (1921) by W. G. Collingwood

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The restorations will prove an important contribution to our knowledge of the period, and are the most complete of their kind yet attempted. We hope the booklet will be a help to all interested in adult education, while to teachers it should be of great value in their school work. <A bibliography is added for those desiring a more extended knowledge of the subject.

The cost of the restorations and casts has been generously defrayed by Mrs. Mary Blamires, J.P., M.B.E., of Bradley Lodge, and photographs of all the original stones have been made and presented by Mr. W. H. Sikes, of Almondbury, and are now in the collection of photographs in the Museum.

The Committee desire to record their thanks to the donors, to the Vicars of Dewsbury, Mirfield and Kirkburton, the Rectors of Thornhill and Kirkheaton, and Sir George A. Armytage, Bart., for permission to make casts from the stones in their charge, also to Mr. Collingwood for the great care and interest he has taken in the preparation of the work, and for so generously placing his extensive knowledge and skill at their service.

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1. The Anglian Occupation of Yorkshire.

When the Romans left Britain in A.D. 410, they left a country already in distress. It went from bad to worse as soon as their governors and garrisons were withdrawn for the last time. Saxon pirates from over the North Sea, Picts from beyond _ Hadrian’s Wall, Scots from Ireland

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these will be found discussed in the Museum Handbook on the Roman period; but they were of no avail in the age we are now describing. There are various legends, more or less ancient, from which some writers have tried to reconstruct a history of continu- ous Christian churches and Romanized organization at York and elsewhere, but they are misleading. By about A.D. 500 Yorkshire had relapsed into wilderness, with no more than a comparatively few Britons, broken men and degenerate, haunting the forests and the moors, and living a rude life such as was lived by the High- landers of the middle ages.

It was about A.D. 500 that the Angles first appeared in York- shire. This is known from the remains found in graves of their pagan period, which also show the area of their earliest settle- ments. They came from the south of Denmark—some antiquaries think there were Norsemen among them—and pushed in small groups up the country from Saltburn and Robin Hood’s Bay, Scarborough and Flamborough, and especially from the Humber. They occupied the slopes along edges of the Cleveland Hills, the North and South Wolds, and the main vale of York, for they were emigrant farmers looking for land between the bleak fells and the swampy flats where they could rear cattle and grow corn. They did not come with great armies to conquer

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from over the North Sea by the name of Saxon. The name still clings in popular use. The new-comers in Wessex, Essex, Sussex and Middlesex, were Saxons; but those of the Midlands, of East Anglia, and especially of Northumbria—all the land north of Humber—were Angles. As the North took the lead in early times. the whole combined race adopted the name of Anglish, or English, in preference to Saxon. As for Yorkshire in particular, to call it Saxon is incorrect ; to call it English, when speaking of these early days, suggests a later period. We cannot do otherwise than call the people Angles and their culture Anglian.

They were, at first, pagans and barbarians. They built no stone houses, castles or towns. They made no roads, and after settling here they gave up seafaring. They talked a dialect related to that of the Saxons, but differing from it in pronunciation; and they lived a rough country life, dispersed in family settlements, without lord or master for their first half-century in Yorkshire. But in Northumberland—then known as Bernicia—a new group of Angles fixed themselves under a King named Ida (547-559), and this may have roused the Angles of Yorkshire—then called Deira—

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tainly between Leeds and York, but it probably extended further to the south-west. In 607, King

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that she was baptized at York in 627, along with King Eadwine, by Paulinus.

The visit of St. Paulinus to Yorkshire began in 625, when Eadwine married

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Campodonum was burnt, but the stone altar of Paulinus was rescued, and nearly a hundred years later it was preserved, Bede says, ‘‘ at the abbey in the forest of Elmet where Thridwulf was then abbot.’’ This, I perhaps, is the basis of the tradition connect- ing Paulinus with Dewsbury, of which there will be more to say in another chapter.

3. The Anglian and British Map of the Huddersfield District.

Anglian settlement hereabouts cannot have begun until the whole of Northumbria was reconquered by King Oswald the Saint, in 635; and as the population had received a severe set back, it must have been long before there was any surplus to make fresh colonization necessary. Wecan find the sites by the help of place-names, but they give no dates, and there is no record in chronicles or documents that affords help. We can only say that Anglian settlers must have found their way into this district from some time after the middle of the seventh century up to the middle of the ninth, by which time the monuments give evidence of their presence. The list of estates with distinctly Anglian names in Domesday Book (1086), is much later than this immigration; but as places occupied after the Danish invasion are not very likely to have Anglian names (though even that may be possible), this list may be taken as a fair guide. The evidence of place-names, though valuable, is not final; in our case we cannot neglect it, but the details may turn out to be disputable.

We may mention first a few place-names suggesting the sur- vival of Britons, not ejected by the Angles. Some main natural features everywhere retain their more ancient names, learnt by the new-comers from the old inhabitants. The Calder and the Colne are both thought to have been Celtic names for the ‘‘ river in the forest,’’? and Krumlin is Celtic for a ‘‘ crooked water course.’’ The name of the river

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Cumberland, which were anciently spelt Bretby, meaning the

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name has been suggested. The Anglian name Alchmund is less near the form than such a name as Considering the use of @l- or el- for

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cussed; Farnley, D.B. Ferlei, ‘‘ far’’ or ‘‘ boars’

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16 4, Anglian Abbeys.

The strong Anglian centre of our district was undoubtedly Dewsbury. This is shown by the area of its parish before the Norman conquest, including as it did Thornhill, Mirfield, Kirk- burton, Kirkheaton, Almondbury, Huddersfield, Bradford and all the west to the watershed. It is shown also

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Melrose (about that time), Gilling West (soon after 642), Hartle- pool and Gateshead (before 650), and Lastingham (653-655). After the battle of Winwidfield, near Leeds, in which King Oswiu finally overcame the Mercians, he gave, as a thankoffering, lands for six monasteries in Deira, and six in Bernicia. St. Hilda in: founded at Whitby a double monastery, that is to say, houses for monks and nuns, living apart but under one control;-and a little later she built the nunnery at Hackness.

Then came the breach with the Columbans (664), and the establishment of Roman usages, promoted by Wilfrid, who founded Ripon (661), and Hexham (about 673), and by Benedict Biscop, who built Monkwearmouth (674), and Jarrow (682). St. Cuthbert founded the abbey at Carlisle and St. John his abbey at Beverley about 685. By this time there was also a nunnery at Wetadun in Northumberland, probably at Nunnykirk. Early in the next cen- tury there is mention of Tynemouth, Dacre in Cumberland, and

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tional and medical aid, poor-relief, and general local authority. The realm of the early Angles was as nearly a hierarchy as among the Hebrews in the days of Samuel the priest.

Many of these abbeys had begun as hermitages, for there were hermits among the Angles as there were in the much later time when Armitage (Hermitage) Bridge took its name.

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comparison of all the known relics. The result is that even modern writers, taking only well-known examples such as the Ruthwell and Bewcastle crosses, date them variously from the middle of the seventh to the middle of the twelfth century. But as we must make use of the local monuments in our attempt to reconstruct the history of this district, it is important to state the grounds on which dates are assigned to them. To do this fully would require many chapters; here we can only sketch the outline

of the argument.

When St. Oswald set up his wooden cross at the battle of Heavenfield, on the Tyne, in 635, it was a cross such as he had seen at Iona. In his time there was none of the great crosses we see there now, but only the kind which Adamnan (abbot of Iona. 679-704) describes as stuck in a millstone, that is a hand-quern.


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for base. Nor were there any stonemasons in Northumbria; the Angles lived in wooden houses and had no use for masonry until St. Wilfrid and Benedict Biscop began to build their abbeys in the Roman style, forty years after Oswald’s cross; and these abbeys were built by masons brought from a distance. Now at Hexham, Wilfrid’s abbey, a peculiar style of leaf-and-fruit-scroll ornament was adopted (an example is given in the Hexham Spital Shaft), and this style spread far and wide. At the abbeys in County Durham a parallel style seems to have developed, also with widespread influence. Both these styles, and the plaited patterns and the figures in relief, can be traced to Continental work; they were adaptations of the ornament then in vogue throughout christen- dom, and were probably brought from Italy, to which Wilfrid and Benedict and many others made frequent visits. But the free- standing cross, carved in stone and decorated with these patterns. seems to be an original idea, perhaps invented at Hexham, and only possible where there were masons at hand who could execute it. From the neighbourhood of the Tyne this new idea travelled in all directions, from one minster to another, as it found accept- ance. It travelled through Northumberland to the Anglian abbeys in what is now south-eastern Scotland, as far as Abercorn, the northern limit of the Anglian kingdom. It travelled westward, to Bewcastle and Carlisle, Hoddam and Ruthwell, Dacre and Heversham, and out to the Cumberland coast at Irton and Waberthwaite. And it travelled south to the abbeys of Yorkshire, so that examples of the art are found in all parts of the Anglian kingdom, which extended from the Humber to the Forth, and from sea to sea.

But it did not travel without changing form in details; as time went on new motives were introduced and old motives were treated in different ways. This must always be the case in any art movement.

The normal trend of development is from severe design, naturalistic intention, and careful execution to more florid effects and a greater show of clever handling. When this has reached its climax, decadence sets in with carelessness in touch and cheap- ness (that is to say, want of fresh feeling and lively invention) in

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design. Boldness takes the place of refinement, and labour-saving devices are employed—in this case, the use of easy repeats instead of original and varied details. And when the worst has come, some new impulse from without transforms the whole art and sets it going again upon new lines. This is the history of Anglian monuments, parallel to the history of the Anglian people. They reached their climax in the eighth century, declined in the ninth, and fell before the Danes, who took up and remodelled their life and art in the tenth century.

I At all periods the sculpture appears to have been painted. This is shown by the remains of paint still existing on some of the stones. The style of colouring was no doubt like that of the similar patterns in the book-illustration of the time, and without colour our reproductions of ancient crosses are incomplete.

The cross reasonably believed to be that of Bishop Acca, of Hexham, who died in 740 (it has been removed from Hexham to Durham Cathedral Library), is a work of the earlier class, though by that time the art was well understood. Further progress is seen in the fine crosses of which fragments remain at Hackness, Easby and Otley, with bird-scrolls beautifully carved, plaits symmetrically designed, and figures of saints, sometimes very fairly drawn and recalling Roman sculpture; this group resembles the crosses of Bewcastle and Ruthwell. There is more tendency to florid style in stones at Cundall, Ripon and Northallerton; the last shows patterns which are associated with late design. Decadence sets in with the

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artists were

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the crudity of its details, is most beautiful on account of its elegant proportions and rich effect. And then, in the eleventh century, Yorkshire grew tired of crosses in this style. The art had been taken up in other countries, the Isle of Man, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, and was there developed in new directions.

In this way we have a kind of rough, general scale to which we can apply examples found in our district at the sites marked with crosses on our map, and say with some approach to certainty what is their place in history. We cannot fix definite dates, but we can name a period, treating these carved stones exactly as fossils and the rocks they lie in are treated by the or as Roman potsherds, and the floors of the buildings in which they are found, are classified by the modern explorer. The general history is clear, but in dealing with our district one exceptional point ought to be borne in mind: the Danes did not at first settle here nor destroy the churches of our neighbourhood in their ravages. This is shown by many lines of evidence, and it explains the persistence of Anglian traditions in South-West Yorkshire beyond the time when they failed elsewhere.

6. Dewsbury.

We have now cleared the way for a study of the old stones collected by the late Mr. S. J. Chadwick and others in the north- west corner of Dewsbury Parish Church.

We have mentioned the traditional connexion of St. Paulinus with this place. When Leland, the antiquary of Henry VIII., visited it, he saw a great cross on which he read an inscription recorded in his notes as ‘‘ Paulinus hic praedicavit et celebravit ’’— Here Paulinus preached and celebrated mass. Camden, Queen Elizabeth’s antiquary, did not see it but heard of it. We do not know when it was destroyed. At Sheffield there is a record of

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24 Leland’s Latin sentence is still used as the local motto, and

‘we have seen that, at any rate, it

ble to interpret Bede’s

iS possi

evidence as stating the existence of the altar of Paulinus he celebrated mass and beside which he preached

treasured at Dewsbury

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with a diameter, as shown by their curves, of about 80 inches. Two (de, f) are parts of an ordinary cross-shaft; that they belong to the same shaft is shown by their cable-edging, which is elaborate and uncommon. The sixth (gh) is of a different stone; it is the topmost part of a very large cross-head which would be four feet over the arms, the size of great heads at Lastingham and Masham. Very large crosses, as at Ruthwell, were often built up from different stones, and the quarry that supplied the long stone for the shaft would probably not offer a wide piece for the head. Some great crosses were also uplifted on a round pillar; the general idea

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making a cross of the type now suggested for a restoration of the Paulinus monument (p. 27). I

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The next seven stones are with others at Dewsbury Church.


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surface, such as we shall see in other fragments evidently of very late Anglian work.

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A piece of a cross-shaft with the cable and stiff scroll of late Anglian, with remains of what was pretty certainly a crucifix-gure on one side, and on the other a curious grotesque creature. Only the lower part of the head is left, but it is not human; and the creature holds something like a rudely carved man in its clumsy paw. It has

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the p

of the old type.

arochial system.


There is at Dewsbury a headstone which may be of the 11th century, but no more ornamented monuments

And in 1086, Domesday Book tells us, there

was here a priest and a church, the church of a great parish extend- ing westward to the Pennine watershed. This must have been the district over which Dewsbury ruled in the earlier Anglian days.

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probability that this relic at Thornhill means an interment of some particularly notable person. The question arises at once—Why not at Dewsbury?

One of the fragments gives an inscription which can be restored in everything but the name of the person who dedicated the monument :—[So-and-so sett |ae aeft|

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west of Hartshead Church. Up to the latter part of the 18th century there was a shaft, it is said, standing in this base, so that there is no doubt the whole monument was a cross of the late Anglian type. It seems to have been known in the 12th century as the Wagestan, and by the ornament it seems to date from about the middle of the 10th century... Why it was placed there, at a distance from any known burial ground, is a question we cannot answer with certainty; but on Stainmore, in a wild place on the border of Westmorland and Yorkshire, still further removed from any trace of a church, there is the Rere cross, apparently a monument of the same class and age, standing where the last battle of Eric Bloodaxe is supposed to have been fought. Possibly the Walton cross commemorates some warrior who fell in a forgotten


The base is a great piece of gritstone; its dimensions are 58 x 41 x 30 inches, and it stands on a slab measuring 50 x 50 x 8 inches. The nearest parallel to this great base is one at Hornby in Lonsdale, which is ornamented only with Anglian arches and mouldings, evidently of late design; and indeed it is natural to expect size, in a late period of any style, as a makeweight for want of elegance. Technical ability increased as artistic taste declined; and the wish to impress by magnitude could be realised with improved methods of masonry.

The ornament is all in the latest stage of the Anglian tradition, before it was touched with Danish taste. The birds and beasts, which in early Anglian were graceful and often naturalistic, here become conventional and clumsy. The plaits are elaborate, and give an impression of richness; but they are repetitions of easy patterns, and contain the rings and closed members which mark the 10th century. The design of the tree-scroll and of the branches under the two griffins is debased, but still on the Anglian model, as the branch-bindings show; it could not be a post-Conquest work. The two holes on the west side look as though somebody had used it as a gate-post, running a wall up to its eastern side and leaving the gap for the road on the other. Perhaps, under- neath, there may be the remains of an interment which might tell us something about its history.

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The Rastrick cross-base stands on the north side of the churchyard, near the entrance gate. It looks like a smaller and much later attempt at the same kind of monument. It bears the tree-pattern, but with large trefoil leaves, never seen in earlier Anglian design, though found on the Cawthorne font (for which see p. 57); and yet this has the pre-Norman branch-bindings, show- ing that if it is as late as the 12th century it is not really Norman.

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recess at the west end of the church, are four stones of very different kinds.

(abc) The first is well known; its inscription in Anglian runes,

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What the symbolism of the In the restoration here

figures and animals may be, we can hardly determine, partly

43 because the stone is very weathered and the forms on each side of given, and in the full-size model by Mr. Lockwood, in the Museum,

the only known representative in our district of the later 10th century Anglo-Danish style, so often seen in those parts of York-

the figure’s head are difficult to follow.

shire where the Danes first settled.

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To put a wheel-head upon a shaft of Anglian style—as one some- times sees in modern churchyards—is a mistake. The simplest kind of wheel-head seen in south-west Yorkshire has been chosen for the restoration, which is not merely fanciful, but justified by analogies where the remains are insufficient.

Now this cross is certainly of the second half of the tenth century, and it shows Danish influence for the first time appearing in our district. Turning again to the map, we can trace the Danish place-names, and find the area of Danish settlement.

The termination ‘‘—thorpe’’ is considered

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Danes by this time were Christian, and no doubt attended the

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Cheshire; examples occur at Aberford, Burnsall, Collingham, Kirkby Wharfe, Saxton and Staveley; at Aughton, Bolton and Whalley, and in the Cheadle cross already mentioned. But this is not a Cumbrian type, or we should be inclined to suggest a

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(ht) A cross-head, now apparently split before being built into the church-wall somewhat recently, but of a shape not else- where seen in Yorkshire. The fan-shaped cross-arms have so overgrown their earlier form that they touch one another, and are separated only by a narrow groove.

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acquainted with Celtic Christianity; some were converted to it, but others were like one of their number who is said to have prayed to Christ when he was at home, but to Thor ‘‘ when he was at sea or in a tight place.”’

So turning once more to the map we can trace their place-

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Also there: are a few names of heathen ‘‘ or burial mounds, which must date before the conversion. Bordering on our district are Flanshaw, the ‘‘ cairn of

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Alric also had land in King Edward’s time in Lower Cumberworth, Dalton,. Flockton, Ingbirchworth, Skelmanthorpe and Thurlstone: and afterwards in Denby (Penistone) and Whitley. These entries may refer to different persons, or possibly to some one man of great importance. Cola is a late Anglian name occurring in Wessex in 1046. Cola held in Honley and Meltham before the Conquest and then disappeared.

Dunston or Dunestan held Holme before the Conquest and Golcar afterwards. I

Elsi (the earlier Atlfsige) held

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held in King Edward’s days Denby (near Kirkburton) and parts of Ingbirchworth, Thurlstone, Skelmanthorpe and Thornhill.

Chetel (Old Norse Ketill, modern Kettle) had part of Almond- bury in King Edward’s time, and afterwards held Bradley under

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In 1069 William the Conqueror devastated parts of Yorkshire in reprisal for rebellion. Places recorded in Domesday Book (1086) as “waste” show the track of his army, which on our map is shaded, the shading darker where the evidence is more distinct. The devastation was horrible enough, but it was by no means complete. A large space round Dewsbury and Thornhill, a smaller piece at Dalton, and much ground to east and west were not waste in 1086, though it must be noted that Saddleworth (the south-west corner of our map, occupied by the titling) was also waste. The army is known to have gone from south to north, and then to have returned through Craven and Lancashire. It looks as though it went in two or three detachments, staying to push up the side valleys and burn the homesteads and crops. Great numbers of the population perished, if not by sword, then by famine; and seventeen years later the country had not recovered.

Before this event our district was thriving. The figures in Domesday Book give the conditions both before and after the devastation. They show that of the whole of the area of our map, nearly 250 square miles, about one-twelfth was annually cultivated. There were 120 carucates and 8 bovates of ploughed land, which we may reckon roughly at a little over 20.square miles; for the carucate was not a land-measure but the amount of ground covered in any year by the work of one plough with its team of eight oxen — that is to say, a farmer’s holding, varied in actual size by the nature of the soil, but averaging about one-sixth of a square mile. At this estimate there would be about 12,800 acres of arable land ploughed every year in our district, beside similar land lying fallow. There were also a few meadows in Elland, Hopton and Whitley, together amounting to only ten acres, for pasturage was found in the ‘“pasturable woodlands,” the uncleared, undrained natural ground, to a great extent overgrown with oak. This was used for the “pannage” or feeding of swine, and here and there in the woods open spaces or “launds” afforded pasture for cattle. The rest was moorland, partly covered with a scrub of oak, birch and hazel, in which sheep could be kept. Marshy ground was also used, as in Iceland to-day, for pasturing horses. The figures of Domesday Book show that ‘‘ pasturable woodland ’’ covered about 196 square miles of our map; that is, all the ground not occupied by meadow, corn, fallow, houses and their surroundings, and water.

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The Norman surveyors seem to have made a pretty close estimate of the face of the land, and we can gather from their account the rough but not unhappy condition of this eleventh-century farming folk, before the Conqueror swept them away.

The depreciation in value by the devastation is also given, though some figures are missing, and we have to reckon into our area the great group of royal demesne lands including Wakefield. But the result shows the proportion of loss through these lamentable reprisals. In King Edward the Confessor’s days the whole value of our district with Wakefield was £108, in the money of the time. Seventeen years later than the devastation its value was £19 Is. Od.

Afterwards there must have been a re-peopling of the ravaged areas, and it is likely that new settlers came from Westmorland and Lancashire, where the descendants of the Norse were numerous. Mr. Goodall notes an interesting piece of evidence; Crum- betonestun in Domesday Book, or Cruttonstall, seems to have lost its original name after the eleventh century, and to have been called Ayrykedene, from a Norseman named Eric. So, too, the ‘‘thwaites’” round Penistone, and Gunthwaite, “ Gunnhild’s field;” Linthwaite,. “flax Slaithwaite, (or damp)

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/ / 4

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From the Norman Conquest onwards we have historical records of our district, such as—if they ever existed for the period we have been considering—were no doubt destroyed in the Danish © invasion and in subsequent disasters, down to the Conqueror’s devastation. Surprising finds are made, now and then, of fresh documents throwing light upon dark periods; but it is hardly likely that much will be discovered for a part of the country which was then so rough and so far out of the way of busier centres. Scholars are gradually Roman Britain from the remains found by excavation, and we are obliged to use the same method for the Anglian and Danish periods i in South-west Yorkshire. This makes our ancient stones especially valuable. I

It is pretty certain that the soil of our churchyards and the walls of old buildings contain still more relics, as important as those we possess. Anyone who takes an interest can join in keep- ing watch for their appearance, when old fabrics are pulled down or when the ground is freshly opened. Great thanks are due to all who have noted and preserved the fragments so recovered, most of which, at first sight, have been almost formless and without obvious charm or worth. Nevertheless they contribute in a wonderful degree to the story of our own origins. They tell us, as we reflect upon them, about the character of our ancestors, their thought and art, how they looked at life and how they faced death. And we too, with all our progress, are still the heirs of those ages. Our best gifts are of their giving—the industry and courage of the race, its respect for truth, its love of beauty, and its hope for immortality.

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1023, Angles, Danes and Norse living together in South York- I shire. I

1069, devastation of the district by William the Conqueror. 1086, Domesday Book; the devastation not yet repaired.

End of the eleventh century, monuments at Rastrick, Mirfield, Cawthorne and Penistone.

Early twelfth century, re-population of the -devastated areas, partly by settlers of Norse descent from the West.

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(1) HISTORY :— Bede (about 731), History of the Anglian Church (ed. Plummer, 1896). Domesday Book for Yorkshire (trans. R. H. Skaife, 1896). Symeon of Durham (and others of the 12th century under his name), History of the (English) Kings (in continua- tion from Bede’s time), and other chronicles (Surtees Society, vol. 51).

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62 (4) RUNIC INSCRIPTIONS (beside the above) :— Dr. W. Vietor, Die Northumbrischen Runensteine (1895).

And in conclusion, the author has to thank Dr. T. W. Woodhead for much kind help in the preparation. of this essay, Dr. Eilert Ekwall,. professor in the University of Lund, Sweden, for many remarks on the place-names, and the Yorkshire

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