Angles, Danes and Norse in the District of Huddersfield (1929) - Chapter 11

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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)


The period of the beginning of the Norse settlement was, we said, about 930-945, but no doubt it continued indefinitely. In less than a hundred years we find Norse, Danes and Angles, or people still retaining names which betray such an origin, settled throughout South Yorkshire. This is shown by the list of Archbishop’s Aelfric’s friends in 1023, some of whom have their homes mentioned, though none of them can be located in our district. But the names of people in the next generation can be gathered from the Domesday Book, which mentions landowners who held before the Norman conquest. The list does not tell us as much as we could wish about the inhabitants for these owners, like the Normans who followed them, held estates in various parts of the country, possibly as absentee landlords. One of these was King Edward the Confessor himself, who possessed Wakefield and its many outlying estates, that is to say all that is not otherwise mentioned in the following list. Another, if the suggestion of Mr. R. H. Scaife, the translator of the Yorkshire Domesday Book, be accepted, was a certain Dunstan, son of Aethelnoth, one of the rebels of 1065, who owned a house in York and estates at Tadcaster as well as land in Golcar. But in the list we have eleven Anglian names, and eight either Norse or Danish. The actual people of the place are not given, unless some of these named were resident owners. A few may not refer to one person in each case, but to namesakes about whose identity we have no information.

Of Anglian names we find:-

Alric, Ailric or Elric holding Cawthorne, Penistone and Hopton before the conquest and continuing to hold them afterwards as tenant of the Norman lord. Alric also had land in King Edward’s time in Lower Cumberworth, Dalton, Flockton, Ingbirchworth, Skelmanthorpe and Thurlstone; and afterwards in Denby (Penistone) and Whitely. 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.

Elsi held Clayton West before and Hartshead after the Conquest.

Edulf held part of Denby in King Edward’s days.

Escelf then held Clifton.

Godric then shared Denby (Penistone) with Edulf.

Goduin (Godwine, the modern Goodwin) held in King Edward’s days Bradley, Farnley Tyas, Old Lindley, Lindley, Quarmby and Rastrick; and Huddersfield both before and after the conquest. In earlier days the last had been worth 100/-, a great value for the times; but after 1069 (of which we have yet to speak) its value sank to nothing. Godwin, the owner of Huddersfield, may or may not be the same with Godwin who held the rest of the places named; but it is possible that one rich man is meant, and interesting that Huddersfield was already – not a town – but a great Levenot, held part of Liversedge before the Conquest.

Leuinc or Leuuin owned Golcar and part of Lower Cumberworth in King Edward’s days.

Leusin was the occupier of Almondbury under Ilbert de Lacy after the conquest. Almondbury, in King Edward’s days had been worth £3 as against £5 for Huddersfield.

Of Danish or Norse names we have:-

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

Chetel had part of Almondbury in King Edward’s time, and afterwards held Bradley under Ilbert de Laci.

Delfin held part of Bradley before the conquest.

Gamel had, before the conquest. Southowram and Elland, and parts of Flockton, Mirfield, Quarmby and Thornhill; and later held Kirkheaton and part of Whitely.

Gerneber or Gerneberne as it is once written, held, in King Edward’s days, in Hartshead, Lepton, Liversedge, Mirfield, Whitely and Thornhill. The last he continued to hold after the conquest. It had been worth 40/-, but after 1069 it was worth only 10/-.

Suuen held south Crosland and Oxspring, and parts of Almondbury, Farnley Tyas, Honley and Meltham before the Conquest, and Dalton, as tenant of Ilbert de Laci, afterwards.

Turber held Hoyland Swain in King Edward’s Days.

Ulchel held Lindley under Ilbert de Laci.

It is evident that the descendents of the original Norse settlers of about 150 years earlier, and still more those of the original Angles, were not always the owners in 1086. there had been fusion of races, transference of property and the general change in conditions which we know came about under Edward the Confessor and his Normanising policy. In one way it was to the good. Ancient differences were forgotten in common interests, and people realised that they were neighbours and Yorkshiremen. In another way it was unfortunate, for it prompted them, as exclusively and unitedly Yorkshiremen, to resist the irresistible power of William the Conquerer.

In 1069 William the Conquerer devastated parts of Yorkshire in reprisal for rebellion. Places recorded in Domesday Book 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 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 the sword, then by famine; and seventeen years later the country had not recovered.

Before the 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 Whitely 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 today, 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. 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 Conquerer 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 1s. 0d.

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; Crubetonestun 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 field"; Slaithwaite, "battle field"; and such Norse names as Scholes, from Skali, a hut; Linfit "flax field"; Lingards "flax-garth"; Scammonden, perhaps "skambani’s dale." Speaking in general of this district, Mr. Goodall says:-

"Beyond all these there are streams called Grain, districts called Lumb, woods called Storth, moorland paths called Rake, roads or lanes called Gate, grassy slopes called Slack and Wham, fields called Carr and Holme, and prominent features in the hills called Nab, Scout and Scar," all of which show an early medieval population speaking the Norse language, which lasted until the middle of the 12th century and then became merged in the local dialect of English.