Angles, Danes and Norse
in the District of Huddersfield
By W. G. Collingwood
DOMESDAY BOOK AND THE NORMAN CONQUEST
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
Cola is a late Anglian name occurring in Wessex in 1046.
Cola held in Honley and Meltham before the conquest and
Dunston or Dunestan held Holme before the Conquest and
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
© Copyright of Kirklees Museums and Galleries