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Page:Notes and Queries - Series 9 - Volume 9.djvu/10

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NOTES AND QUERIES. [9 th s. ix, JAN. 4, 1902.


was the kingdom of Elmet, which Bede (I.e.) calls British, and which Nennius (app.) says became Northumbrian on its seizure by King Edwin. Elmet therefore was not Northum- brian, and the 'Tribal Hidage' shows it as having fallen to Mercia. It was in this dis- trict that Penda was killed at the battle ol the Winwsed. The site is said to be Wm- moor, to the north-east of Leeds, which place was reached by Oswy a little after the battle. Close by one of the great Roman roads passes northward through Aberford. The Northum- brians, being comparatively weak in numbers, seem to have waited for the attack on then- own ground. The Wharfe gives the most probable boundary line. It is the boundary of the hundreds, one of which is named bkyr- ack (division oak?). For the Nidd, it may be said that it forms the boundary of the archdeaconry of York or the West Riding, the civil boundary of this district being still further to the north. Possibly the district between the Wharfe and the Nidd was a "mark" or No-man's-land. Nennius calls the district where the battle took place the Field of Gai ; Guiseley and Kayley, places lying between Cawood and Keighley, may preserve this ancient name. Elmet is attached usually to Barwick-in-Elmet, and sometimes also to Sherburn.

The Northumbrians, however, made con- quests further west, and Ethelfrith's descent on Chester in 607 or later, perhaps by way of


as the position of Spalding and Spaldwick shows, and so we may conclude that the inter- mediate tribes belonged to the same group. The country occupied by the Gyrwas, to give them their general name, includes South Lincolnshire (Kesteven and Holland), Cam- bridgeshire, Huntingdonshire, and the nor- thern end of Northamptonshire. Bede (iv. 6) tells us that Peterborough was in the country of the Gyrwas, and the historians of Ely call the people of their district by the same name. Further, Bede speaks of the "province" of Oundle, just as he speaks of the province" of the East Angles or of the East Saxons ; hence it may be inferred that Oundle was the chief city of the South Gyrwas, and so the seat of government for the whole group. This "province "of Oundle maintained a sort of distinction till a later period, being known as "The Eight Hundreds" in the time of Edgar ('A.-S. Chron.,' 963). The 'Tribal Hidage ' assigns only 600 hides to the South Gyrwas, so that there had been some enlarge- ment, either by addition or by natural growth, in the 300 years intervening. That the Gyrwas were East Anglian in sympathy and doubtless by race is proved by the story of their conversion. This was probably effected by St. Felix, who is said by tradition to have had a church at Soham, on the border of their country ; and his successor in the East Anglian bishopric was " his deacon Thomas, of the province of the Gyrwas " (Bede, iii. 20).


Sedbergh or of Colne, secured for them most of j Then we have the story of St. Botolpji. It

the present counties of Lancaster and Chester, |

which probably remained Northumbrian till I

the overthrow of Oswald in 641. Oswestry ;

seems a peculiar site for a battle between the

kings of Mercia and Northumbria, but if we

suppose that Oswald was trying to join the

Wessex forces by way of the Severn Valley,

it will be seen that Penda attacked him just

after he had crossed the Northumbrian limit,

at the southern boundary of Cheshire (now a

detached portion of Flintshire) as soon, in

fact, as he became a trespasser on what Penda

considered his own domains. The East Angles occupied Norfolk and

Suffolk, and their allies or subjects the

Gyrwas spread themselves over the Fen

country and its margin. It appears from

Bede that the South Gyrwas were the domi- nant people among the Fenmen he men- tions them by name, and their chief was of

rank to marry a daughter of the East Anglian

king and the ' Tribal Hidage ' agrees with

this by giving them the first place in its list,

thus : South Gyrwa, North Gyrwa, East

Wixna, West Wixna, (Herstina), and Spalda.

The last named were certainly Fenmen by race,


can scarcely be doubted that Siwara, Queen of the "Southern English," was the ruler of the South Gyrwas in succession to Tonbert. Botolph obtained from her an islet in the Fens as the site for his hermitage, and the gift was ratified by the kings of the East Angles. If Boston be the site of Ikanho, the land granted him must have been near a Spalda district ; and so his story shows that in 654, when Penda was in the zenith of his power, the Fenland tribes held together under the suzerainty of the East Angles. A little later St. Etheldreda settled at Ely, " in the pro- vince of the East Angles, a country of about 600 families "probably the Herstina of the 'Tribal Hidage' which had been assigned to her as dowry by her first husband Ton- bert, and the people of which, as already stated, were Gyrwas (Bede, iv. 19 ; ' Liber Eliensis'). It is sometimes supposed that they were the South Gyrwas ; but it is so un- likely that a chief would give the central district of his province as dowry that nothing further need be said as to this. Another piece of evidence is given incidentally by Bede (ii. 12), who, in mentioning the great