Northumberland Holidays
Northumberland Holidays
Before 440
440 - 789
789 - 1000
1000 - 1400
1400 - 1700
After 1700
The History of Northumberland 789 - 1000

Durham Cathedral Northumbria under the Danelaw
While the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms continued to bicker with each other, they failed to keep a watch beyond their own shores. In 789, the Angolo-Saxon Chronicle records a raid upon Wessex by three ships from across the seas. The incident was minor, but these were the first ships of the Danes to come to England.

Other minor raids soon followed along the south coast, but the more serious ones came in the north. In Northumbria, Lindisfarne was plundered in 793 and Jarrow in 794. Attacks by the Norwegians and Danes - referred to as as pirates or Vikings by their victims - became commonplace after 835 and culminated in 865 with the invasion of East Anglia by the Danish Great Army, led by Halfden and Ivarr the Boneless.

When the Danes turned towards Northumbria, they encountered a kingdom divided by rival kings. When York fell in 867, the conquest of Northumbria was complete, and the Danes went on to ravage the kingdom from the Tyne to the Tweed, burning all the churches and monasteries and destroying relics and manuscripts. Lindisfarne was pillaged again in 875 and was not re-established until the 11th century.

Of all the former Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, only Wessex under Alfred the Great succeeded in fighting off the Danes. Against a background of battles, uneasy truces and setbacks on both sides, a new and very different society was established under the Danelaw in all the lands occupied by the invaders.

The first half of the 10th century was dominated by the reconquest of the Danelaw by the Royal House of Wessex. By 920, the English in the south had pushed the Danelaw back to the River Humber. Meantime, in the north, the Norseman had supplanted the Danes in Northumbria, having brought their army south from Scotland in 918. In the following year, York was added to this new Norse kingdom and Raegnald was crowned king. In 920, he swore fealty to Edward of Wessex on behalf of all the English and Danish inhabitants of Northumbria. This endured only until 926 and for the next three decades the English struggled to complete their task. This was finally achieved in 954 when King Eadred invaded Northumbria and drove out the Norsemen.

In the second half of the 10th century, advances were made in politics, administration, coinage and learning. In Northumbria, as elsewhere, Danish culture was absorbed into the new English ways. Durham Cathedral was founded when monks from Lindisfarne Abbey, displaced by the Viking raid of 875, finally reburied the body of St Cuthbert at the site in 995. The building of the cathedral was funded by the income from pilgrims visiting the saint's shrine.

Saturday 25 November 2017