Angles, Danes and Norse in the District of Huddersfield (1929) - Chapter 10

The following is made available free of any copyright restrictions (more info).
The following is a transcription of a historic book and may contain occasional small errors.

Angles, Danes and Norse in the District of Huddersfield (1929) by W.G. Collingwood (2nd edition)

  • Preface (page 3)
  • Chapter 1 : The Anglian Occupation of Yorkshire (page 7)
  • Chapter 2 : British Loidis and Elmet (page 9)
  • Chapter 3 : The Anglian and British Map of the Huddersfield District (page 13)
  • Chapter 4 : The Anglian Abbeys (page 17)
  • Chapter 5 : Anglian Monuments (page 19)
  • Chapter 6 : Dewsbury (page 24)
  • Chapter 7 : Thornhill (page 33)
  • Chapter 8 : Walton and Rastrick Cross-bases (page 37)
  • Chapter 9 : Kirkburton and Kirkheaton — the Danish Settlers (page 40)
  • Chapter 10 : High Hoyland and the Norse Settlers (page 46)
  • Chapter 11 : Domesday Book an the Norman Conquest (page 50)
  • Chapter 12 : Mirfield, Cawthrone, Penistone and Skelmanthorpe (page 55)
  • Summary (page 60)
  • Bibliography (page 61)


This is another tenth century chapel which seems to have been disused at the Norman conquest and revived later.

In the church on a shelf are two stones (a,b,c, d,e,f) which represent one cross-head, or possibly two heads, or late Anglian form.

Two more stones are built into the north wall inside the church. One of these (g) is similar in general form to a group of crosses in an area including the West Riding with South Lancashire and 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 Cumbrian origin as distinct from the influences received from the old Northumbrian and more recent Danish art. The ornament on these stones is late Anglian, and the area is that which fell for a time under Mercian power, when Eadward the Elder built a fort at Manchester in 920. at that time the Norse had hardly begun to settle in Cumberland, though they had made a colony in the Wirral; and for a short period all this area – non-Danish, not yet Norse, and without British rule – must have felt a revival of Anglian interests under the control of Mercia. Some such circumstances seem required to explain the spread of a peculiar type of monument over that area; and these cross-heads with expanded or fan-shaped arms may have been then introduced. Carrying the design a little further in the same direction, we get the next development (h,i) , the truly penannular head, found over a different area.

About 930-945 we find a remarkable increase of Cumbrian influence. The old Kingdom of Strathclyde and Cumberland had been pushing southward, and under King Owain, and his son, King Duvenald (known in local tradition as Dunmail), had come into collision with the southern Kings Aethelstan and Eadmund. One source of Cumbrian strength was the Norse colony which Owain patronized; it was eventually the reason for the destruction of the Cumbrian kingdom in 945, for the English of the south could not tolerate the settlements of these pirates, as they regarded them. But there are indications that Owain and Duvenald included a part of Lancashire and West Yorkshire in the sphere of interest they claimed. In a life of St. Cadroe, written in the eleventh century, (printed in Skene’s Chronicles of the Picts and Scots), the journey of the saint from Cumbria to York is narrated, and it is said that he went under escort from King Duvenald until he came to the civitas (city or state) of Leeds, "which is the border between the Cumbrians and the Northmen (Danes)." This would be in about 941, and though the source is one of the lives of saints in which many miraculous stories are interwoven, the statement receives curious confirmation from the next stone we have to look at.

(hi) A cross-head, now apparently split before being built into the church-wall somewhat recently, but of a shape not elsewhere 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. Without the groove it would be a wheel-head.

Now this is the form of the famous Whithorn group, of which there are many examples in Galloway. Two of the Galloway crosses of this type bear inscriptions in the Anglian language and in Anglian runes; showing that the people of Whithorn in Galloway used Anglina workmanship. When we remember that about 940, one dominion – not very strong, nor long-lasting, but still one realm – extended from the West Riding to Ayrshire, we can understand how easily, at that moment, the Yorkshire cross-head, then a new invention, could be carried so far. Without these circumstances, again, it is difficult to account for the spread of the fashion in that particular direction.

More than that, it gives us a date not only for this cross, but also for the first immigration of Norse into our district. About 930-945 they were beginning to penetrate from the coasts of the Irish Sea inland, having begun, a little earlier, to settle in Cumberland. They came, at any rate for the most part, not immediately from Norway, but were sons or grandsons of Norwegians who had fled from King Harald Fairhair to the Hebrides and Ireland; and they had adopted some Celtic customs, they used some Gaelic words, and they bore, in some cases, Irish or Scottish names, the result of intermarriage with the Gaels. They were, a little later, the dominant power at York until the middle of the tenth century, as well as at Dublin; and it was only by the strenuous and persistent efforts of the kings of southern England that they did not become the dominant power in Britain. Their remains, in place-names and monuments, show that they approached our district through Craven, not in a body as conquerors, but in isolated families as settlers; taking up land fit for sheep-farming, which was their speciality as opposed to the corn and cattle farming of the Angles. Hence we find them pushing up valleys higher than previous settlers, and making use of the moorlands as they did at the same time in Iceland. They were already 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-names. A few, such as Clifton, Dalton, Hartshead and Hopton, can be explained as Anglian, but are perhaps not of the original Anglian settlement. Clifton may be from Anglian Clif or Norse Klif; Dalton from Anglian dael, valley, or dael, piece (of land), or from Norse dalr, dale; Hopton from Anglian hop, small valley, or Norse hop, inlet or nook. Hartshead looks like Anglian for the "height of hart"; but so many similar names in –head are from the Norse for "seat" or "estate" that in this case the form does not decide the date. The following from Domesday Book, appear to have Norse character:- Crosland North and South, "land of the cross," with the Norse form of the word; Fixby, "dwelling of fegh," the name also of a landowner in Giggleswick (Domesday Book), and, in the Celtic form Fiacc, of a Norseman, son of Thorleif (a regular Norse name), recorded on a cross at Braddan, Isle of Man; Flockton "farm of Floki," a Norse name occurring at this period in Iceland; Golcar, Gudlagesarg, the "erg" Norse for dairy, of Gudlaug; Greetland "stoney land"; Holme, originally Holne, confused later with the Norse holmr, "meadow by a river"; Lepton, the "farm on a strip" of land; Meltham, in which the termination may be the not uncommon Norse heimr, "home" and like meltu-hus, malthouse, the place noted for malt; Mirfield, "swampy field" ; Quarmby, in 1086 Cornesbi, later Querneby and Quarnby, the farm house of the quern or hand-mill, so altered, probably to explain a forgotten original something like kvarans-baer, Cuaran’s-by, from a well known Gaelic-Norse nickname; Rastrick, which Mr. Goodall interprets "rest-nook" Sowerby, "muddy-farm" a name found wherever the Norse settled; Stainland, "rocky land"; Thurlstone, "Thorolf’s farm"; Thurstonland, "Thorstein’s estate"; Wooldale, "Ulf’s dale"; And Yateholme, in which "Yate" is an addition later than Domesday Book to the Norse "holme," representing, as said above "holne," perhaps "holly."

Also there are a few names of heathen "howes" or burial mounds, which must date before the conversion. Bordering on our district are Flanshaw, the "cairn of Flann," another Gaelic-Norse name, and Carlinghow, "mound of the old women." So that when we find Slithero, parallel with Slidrihou (mentioned about 1213 as near Southport) it suggests another Norse cairn. Mr. Goodall interprets it as "scabbard howe." But it might be from slidhr, "fearful" (the –r being part of the word and not merely the nominative termination) meaning the haunted howe. There are for example, the tumulus on Banniside, near Coniston, Lancashire, had its ghost, and a circle in Cumberland was anciently called Elf-how, now Elva.

Reference may be made also to Mr. Waltar E. Haigh’s glossary of the Huddersfield district and to Professor Tolkein’s introduction to that valuable work, for the remains of the Scandinavian element in local dialect, confirming the evidence of monuments and place-names.