Braithwell, Micklebring and Clifton History and Heritage

Before the Conquest 2

Notes by Allen Smith of Braithwell, Micklebring and Clifton History and Heritage Group

The Anglo-Saxons

In the Anglo-Saxon period that followed, the country was not unified, but divided up into seven Kingdoms: Mercia, Northumbria, Kent,Wessex, East Anglia, Sussex and Essex. This was a period of constant conflict, resulting at a later date in their being only three main Kingdoms; - Nothumbria, Mercia and Wessex. Mercia extended from the Humber in the North to the Wash in the South. There are numerous accounts of the Northumbrians coming south of the Humber and laying waste to large areas of Mercia.

The Long-lasting influence of the Danes

Then came the Danes. Eventually they were given land which became known as Danelagh. Later, in an attempt to stop them extending this territory, they were given money.

In order to raise the cash, a tax was levied which became known as Danegeld.

It was in these Anglo-Saxon\Danish times that the country was sub­divided into areas bearing a distinct resemblance to the system today. The largest division became known as a Kingdom. These were then divided into Counties and Shires. It was at this time that Yorkshire was divided into three "Ridings".

The Counties and Shires were then divided into "hundreds" or "wapentakes". These were meant to be large Towns, or areas, supposed to have within them over 100 families. Lastly came the smallest division, - the "Tithing,", or "Tenthing". These were Townships which supported between 10 and 100 families. Thus we see that in pre-conquest times, Braithwell was a Tithing in the wapentake of Strafforth, in the West Riding of the County of York.

Royal Squabbles

In the latter years of Saxon England, Earl Edwin was Lord of Mercia, and he had a palace at Laughton. From here he controlled his vast estates. He was often in conflict with Harold Godwinson of Wessex, who at the time of Edward the Confessor was practically ruler of the country. Later, in a "political move", Edwin's sister married Harold.

When Earl Tostig landed in the Humber to fight for the kingdom on the death of Edward the Confessor in 1066, Edwin raised a force to try to repel him, but he, and his brother's forces were defeated at Fulford, and had to retreat. It was left to Harold to march North with a much larger force to defeat Tostig at Stamford Bridge.