During a fifty year period – the last quarter of the 9th century and the first quarter of the 10th – the settlement pattern of what had been the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria underwent radical change. In 876 it was partitioned by the Danes. They established their own kingdom in the south, based on York, whilst leaving “the Northumbrians beyond the river Tyne” (says Symeon of Durham, HR Chronicle Two s.a. 876) to English rule. Circumstantial evidence, for instance place-names, indicates that the territory settled by the Danes corresponded, more or less, with the county of Yorkshire. It is also evident that significant numbers of Vikings from Ireland, often called the Hiberno-Norse, migrated eastwards, and settled in the Isle of Man and along the west coast of Britain from the Dee to beyond the Solway. Some of them were refugees from Dublin, driven out by the Irish in 902. The only literary record of this population movement concerns the settlement, in the Wirral, of an expelled Hiberno-Norse chieftain called Ingimund[*]. Later events suggest that the Strathclyde Britons took advantage of Northumbria’s distress to extend their border southwards as far as the river Eamont, just below Penrith.
In 910, at the battle of Tettenhall (now a suburb of Wolverhampton), the Yorkshire Danes (for want of a better designation) suffered a crippling defeat at the hands of the West Saxon king Edward (Old English: Eadweard), known as Edward the Elder, who was the only surviving English king – certainly south of the Humber – and who is titled ‘king of the Anglo-Saxons’ in the majority of his charters. Thinking that Edward’s forces were not in a position to do anything about it, the Danes had ventured on a plundering raid. Unfortunately for them, they had misjudged the situation, and Edward dispatched forces from Wessex and Mercia to intercept them as they returned home. The Danes suffered enormous losses, including much of their ruling class.
The Annals of Ulster report, s.a. 913, the death of: “Etulb, king of the Saxons of the North”.[*]Etulb is an Irish rendering of the English name Eadwulf. West Saxon chronicler Æthelweard also records (IV, 4) the demise of Eadwulf (Athulf in the text), but doesn’t accord him the title king – saying he was: “commander of the town called Bamburgh.” Bamburgh (on the coast of, what is now, the county of Northumberland) had been ‘capital’ of the erstwhile kingdom of Bernicia, i.e. Northumbria north of the Tees.[*]
… fleeing from the pirates [i.e. Vikings], came from beyond the mountains towards the west, and sought the pity of St Cuthbert and of Bishop Cuthheard, that they might grant him some estates.
In 875, in advance of an expected attack by Halfdan (the Dane who would partition Northumbria the next year), the bishop of Lindisfarne and the community of St Cuthbert had abandoned the island of Lindisfarne, and were, at this time (Cuthheard was, it seems, bishop from 901 to 915), established at Chester-le-Street.[*] Anyway, the Historia lists several estates that Cuthheard “granted” (i.e. leased) to Alfred, and continues:
All these estates, as I have said, the bishop gave to Alfred, that he might be loyal to him himself and the community, and should render full service from them. This also he faithfully did, until King Ragnald came with a great multitude of ships and occupied the land of Ealdred son of Eadwulf, who was loved by King Edward just as his father Eadwulf had been loved by King Alfred [Alfred the Great, Edward’s father].
The displaced Ealdred son of Eadwulf (it is assumed that this Eadwulf is the commander of Bamburgh who died in 913) sought the help of King Constantine II of Alba. The forces of Ealdred and Constantine met Ragnald’s at Corbridge, on the Tyne (16 miles west of Newcastle):
… in which battle – I know not what sin was the cause – the pagan king [i.e. Ragnald] was victorious, put Constantine to flight, routed the Scots, and killed Alfred, the faithful subject of St Cuthbert, and all the English nobility, except Ealdred and his brother Uhtred.
The Historia proceeds to tell (§23) how Ragnald divided “the estates of St Cuthbert” between two of his followers – the southern properties, between Billingham and Castle Eden, he gave to Scula; the northern properties, between Castle Eden and the river Wear, he gave to Onlafbald. There then follows a yarn in which Onlafbald, a fierce opponent of Christianity (“son of the devil”), is struck dead, by divine intervention, in the presence of Bishop Cuthheard (which would date the battle at Corbridge between 913 and 915), and his land-holding reverts to the community of St Cuthbert.
Who is Ragnald? Well, the Annals of Ulster record that, in 914, one “Ragnall grandson of Ímar” was victorious in a naval battle, off the Isle of Man, against another Viking chieftain. And s.a. 917, the exploits of “Ragnall, king of the dark foreigners” (operating in cahoots with “Sitriuc grandson of Ímar”), around Waterford, south-eastern Ireland, are reported. It is almost certain that “Ragnall grandson of Ímar”, “Ragnall, king of the dark foreigners”, and Ragnald who fought at Corbridge are one and the same.[*] It is generally supposed that the Ímar in question is the: “Ímar, king of the Northmen of all Ireland and Britain”, whose death the Annals of Ulster place s.a. 873. Ímar, i.e Ivar, is widely equated to the Ivar – known in Scandinavian tradition as Ivar the Boneless – who was a leader of the “great heathen army” that had conquered Anglo-Saxon Northumbria in 867. Ivar’s brother, Halfdan, partitioned Northumbria in 876.
Returning to the Historia de Sancto Cuthberto (§24):
… Eadred son of Ricsige rode west beyond the mountains, and killed Ealdorman Eardwulf,[*] and seized his wife in disregard of the peace and the will of the people, and fled to the protection of St Cuthbert. And there he stayed three years, cultivating in peace the land granted to him by Bishop Cuthheard and the community … [the lands leased by Eadred are itemized] … This Eadred held this land with loyalty to St Cuthbert, and rendered his rent faithfully, until the aforesaid King Ragnald, having again collected an army, fought at Corbridge, and killed that same Eadred and a great multitude of the English; and being victorious, he took away from St Cuthbert all the land which Eadred had held, and gave it to Esbrid son of Eadred, and his brother Ealdorman Ælstan, who had been stout fighters in this battle.[*]
Based on the testimony of the Historia, it would appear that there were two battles at Corbridge – the first c.914, and the second at least three years later – and this is the traditional scholarly view. The Historia does not mention the Scots in its notice of the second battle at Corbridge, but, on dating grounds, it is this encounter that is generally identified with a battle which occurred in 918, and which is most fully reported in the Annals of Ulster:
The foreigners of Loch dá Chaech [Waterford harbour], i.e. Ragnall, king of the dark foreigners, and the two earls, Oitir and Gragabai, forsook Ireland and proceeded afterwards against the men of Alba. —
— The men of Alba, moreover, moved against them and they met on the bank of the Tyne in northern Saxonland. The gentiles [i.e. Vikings] formed themselves into four battalions: a battalion with Gothfrith grandson of Ímar, a battalion with the two earls, and a battalion with the young lords. There was also a battalion in ambush with Ragnall, which the men of Alba did not see. The men of Alba routed the three battalions which they saw, and made a very great slaughter of the gentiles, including Oitir and Gragabai. Ragnall, however, then attacked in the rear of the men of Alba, and made a slaughter of them, although neither king nor mormaer perished. Nightfall caused the battle to be broken off.
There appears to have been no conclusive victor, though, in what is clearly a reference to the same battle, the Scottish Chronicle (as preserved in the Poppleton Manuscript) presents the outcome somewhat differently:
The battle of Tinemore took place in [Constantine’s] 18th year [he became king in 900], between Constantine and Ragnall; and the Scots had the victory.
The conventional view, then, is that there were two battles at Corbridge, as indicated by the Historia de Sancto Cuthberto, and that the second of them is the Battle of 918 that features in the Annals of Ulster and the Scottish Chronicle (the indecisive result, as described by the Annals of Ulster, allowing the Scottish Chronicle to present it as a Viking defeat, and the Historia de Sancto Cuthberto to present it as a Viking victory). Some modern writers, however, argue that the stories told in §22 and in §24 of the Historia relate to the same time – that there was but one battle at Corbridge, and that it is the Battle of 918.[*]
Another Irish source, the Three Fragments, gives a somewhat embroidered account of a battle which may also equate with this same Battle of 918[*]. The Fragments claim that Æthelflæd – Edward the Elder’s sister, who was ruling English Mercia (roughly the western half) at this time, and was an able accomplice to her brother in the English offensive against the south-Humbrian Danes – entered into an alliance with the Scots (“the men of Alba”) and the Strathclyde Britons to counter the threat posed by the Hiberno-Norse.
In this year, with the aid of God, in the early part of the year, she [Æthelflæd] got into her power peacefully the burh [fortification] at Leicester; and the greatest part of the army [i.e. the Danes] which belonged thereto became subjected to her. And the people of York had also promised her, and some given a pledge, and some confirmed by oaths, that they would be at her disposal.
It isn't clear if “the people of York” were Englishmen hoping that Æthelflæd would liberate them from their Danish rulers, or if they were themselves Danes, hoping to gain Æthelflæd’s support against the Hiberno-Norse. In any case, on 12th June 918 Æthelflæd died. Her daughter, Ælfwynn, stepped into her shoes, but (probably) in December 918 (though it appears s.a. 919 in the Mercian Register) Edward removed Ælfwynn from office and took direct control of Mercia.
The above notice, apparently recording Ragnald’s first arrival at York, is also found in Manuscripts D, E and F of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, but it is placed s.a. 923. This date (as will become apparent) is clearly too late. 919 is probably correct, but there is room for doubt. Elsewhere (LDE II, 16), Symeon says that, immediately Ragnald landed in Northumbria – which, like the Historia de Sancto Cuthberto, Symeon places during Cuthheard’s tenure as bishop (901–915) – he (Ragnald): “broke in upon York, and either killed or drove out of the country the more influential of the inhabitants. He next seized the whole of the land of St Cuthbert, and divided its vills [estates] between two of his leaders, one of whom was named Scula, the other Onlafbald.” Symeon proceeds to tell an elaborated version of the story of Onlafbald’s death. In Symeon’s account, then, there is no mention of a battle at Corbridge, and Ragnald’s first action is to capture York.
Alfred P. Smyth (an advocate of the idea that there were two battles at Corbridge, c.914 and 918) proposes that Ragnald took advantage of the Yorkshire Danes’ apparently crippling defeat at Tettenhall in 910: “The Scandinavian dynasty which was waiting to reassert York and Dublin power was that of Ivar’s grandsons led by Ragnall, who captured York with a large fleet soon after 910 and set about colonizing church land in the Wear valley to the dismay of the monks of Chester-le-Street.”
Ian W. Walker (who believes there was only one battle at Corbridge, in 918) also links Ragnald’s arrival in Northumbria to Tettenhall: “This disaster for the Danes opened a new field of opportunity for the Irish Vikings and they were quick to exploit it. If the dating of his coinage can be trusted, Ragnall, another grandson of Ivar, sailed with a large fleet for Northumbria in about 911.… Ragnall captured York, killed or drove out the remaining Danish leaders and assumed control of York and their other conquests in northern England.” It would seem, however, that the date of Ragnald’s coinage is not that clear cut, as Philip Grierson and Mark Blackburn note: “The dating of Ragnald’s coinage has been contentious. Some would associate it with his first campaigns in Northumbria c.911 or c.914 when he may have occupied York … But the better view would seem to be … that the coins belong to his substantive reign of c.919–21”.[*]
By the time Ragnald was installing himself as king in York, Edward the Elder had, as recorded in Manuscript A of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, established himself as king of all the English and Danes to the south of Northumbria, and overlord of the kings of Wales. He could now give ‘the North’ his full attention. Manuscript A reports that, in 919:
… King Edward went, after harvest, with a force to Thelwall, and commanded the burh to be built, and inhabited, and manned; and commanded another force also of the Mercian nation, while he there sat, to occupy Manchester in Northumbria, and repair and man it.
The departure from Dublin, in 920, of Ragnald’s kinsman, Sihtric (“Sitriuc grandson of Ímar”), is recorded by the Annals of Ulster.[*] Symeon of Durham reports (HR Chronicle One s.a. 920) that, despite Edward’s new defences (and the ones previously built, by Æthelflæd, at Chester, Eddisbury and Runcorn): “King Sihtric stormed Davenport.” Manuscript A of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle reports:
In this year , before Midsummer, king Edward went with a force to Nottingham, and commanded the burh to be built on the south side of the river, opposite the other; and the bridge over the Trent, betwixt the two burhs; and then went thence into Peakland, to Bakewell, and commanded a burh to be built and manned there in the immediate neighbourhood. And then the king of the Scots and all the nation of the Scots, and Ragnald, and the sons of Eadwulf, and all those who dwell in Northumbria, as well English as Danish and Northmen, and others, and also the king of the Strathclyde Welsh [i.e. Britons], and all the Strathclyde Welsh, chose him for father and for lord.
The nature of the apparent submission of the northern rulers to Edward (seemingly at Bakewell) has been much debated. Manuscript A is the West Saxon branch of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, and the entry for 920 would not be the only occasion that the author of this period’s annals has adopted the role of spin-doctor, in order to present Edward in the best possible light (Æthelflæd’s considerable contribution to his success being unreported). It seems unlikely that Edward was in a position to impose terms on the northerners, and much more likely that, rather than an outright submission to Edward, there was a negotiated peace treaty, with give and take on all sides.
In 921, the death of Ragnald (“Ragnall grandson of Ímar, king of the fair foreigners and the dark foreigners”), is recorded by the Annals of Ulster. Sihtric, his brother/cousin, evidently replaced him as king of York, whilst another brother/cousin, “Gothfrith grandson of Ímar”, took over the rule of Dublin.
The sequence of events envisaged by Frank Stenton is that Sihtric’s invasion and attack on Davenport spurred Edward to undertake “the northern expedition which forms the climax of his reign”, the preliminary moves of which were the fortifications he built at Nottingham and Bakewell. Professor Stenton then supposes that Edward’s campaign carried him beyond Bakewell, though it hasn't been recorded, as a result of which he was acknowledged as overlord by the northern rulers, an arrangement that had benefits to all parties – Ealdred, who ruled at Bamburgh, isolated as he was, gained the promise of Edward’s protection; Ragnald gained recognition of his kingdom; Constantine of Alba gained “temporary security against Rægnald and his viking friends in Ireland”; whilst: “To Edward himself the submission meant that each ruler who became his man promised to respect his territory and to attack his enemies. These are simple obligations, and they no more than dimly foreshadow the elaborate feudal relationship which many medieval, and some later, historians have read into them. But the creation of even this simple bond between King Edward and the rulers of every established state in Britain gave to the West Saxon monarchy a new range and dignity which greatly strengthened its claim to sovereignty in England.”
Alfred P. Smyth opines: “It would be nonsense to assume that Edward was strong enough to impose the same conditions on Constantine or Ragnall as he had forced on the men of Bedford or Nottingham. It is unlikely, for instance, that Edward received an undertaking from York and the Scots to respect any novel West Saxon claims to overlordship in Bernicia. What he may have achieved in 920 was a promise from the Scots and Strathclyde Britons not to enter an active alliance with Danish York. But Edward must have conceded something too, and the fact that Ragnall of York was succeeded peacefully as king later in that same year by his kinsman Sitric of Dublin strongly suggests that Edward had no choice but to recognize the continued claims of the house of Ivar to the York kingdom. At best, Edward hoped to establish peace with northern England while gaining time to reinforce his new frontier with York on the Humber. At this point in West Saxon expansion, there was no possibility of an English king being immediately concerned with, or indeed able to interfere in, the internal affairs of the Scots.”
Whilst Ian W. Walker writes: “It is clear, however, that this interpretation of events [i.e. the report of the ‘submission’ to Edward presented by Manuscript A of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle] is an English one and it is likely that matters were viewed rather differently by the other parties involved. It was probably seen from a Scottish or Viking perspective as a meeting intended to reach mutual agreement on boundaries and spheres of influence in the region. King Edward was now an extremely powerful ruler, but he had yet to demonstrate this power to his northern neighbours. Until he had done so there was no pressing reason for these men to submit to his authority in the way indicated by the Chronicle account.… The Chronicle seems to indicate that English Northumbria and Strathclyde were independent powers when they submitted to Edward, but it is perhaps just as likely that they were subordinate to Constantine, or possibly even Ragnall, and took part as his subjects.”
Whatever the precise nature of the ‘submission’ to Edward, Clare Downham suggests that Sihtric’s arrival on English soil came afterwards, and “may have been provoked by events at Bakewell. One of his first deeds in England seems to have been an attack on Davenport in Cheshire.… This attack seems to have been in flagrant breach of the agreement made at Bakewell.” Dr Downham also suggests that Sihtric may have deposed Ragnald in 920. On the other hand, Alex Woolf suggests that Ragnald: “may have been sick for some time for he seems to have arranged for his brother Sihtric to vacate Dublin and join him in Northumbria in 920.” Whilst Lesley Abrams states that Sihtric: “made a successful bid for power in York in 921 after Ragnald’s expulsion and became king of the Northumbrians.”
The Annals of Ulster, in fact, say, somewhat enigmatically, that Sihtric left Dublin “through the power of God” in 920. Ian W. Walker maintains that: “In 921 King Ragnall of York died and was succeeded by his brother Sihtric Caech, who had been expelled from Dublin the year before.[*] In the aftermath of this, Sihtric devoted his resources to recovering Dublin for his brother Gothfrith and had little time for affairs in northern Britain. In due course, Gothfrith was restored and entered Dublin later in the same year and commenced a series of raids across Ireland. This raiding absorbed all of Gothfrith’s attention and resources, including perhaps the resources of his brother in York.”[*]
In the same year, the Mercian Register notes that Edward built a burh at a place called Cledemutha. Cledemutha is identified with Rhuddlan (near the mouth of the river Clwyd), a site that would complement the existing defences against Hiberno-Norse raiders.
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records no events for the last few years of Edward’s reign. Sihtric evidently did not make any sort of ‘submission’ to Edward – indeed, it is possible that he made territorial gains at Edward’s expense. It seems very likely that Sihtric had coins minted in his name south of the Humber, at Lincoln. Although Lincoln is not specifically named as submitting to Edward, Manuscript A’s statement: “all the people who were settled in the land of Mercia submitted to him [in 918], both Danish and English”, must surely have included the Danes of Lincoln. Perhaps, then, Sihtric subsequently captured Lincoln.[*]
Edward died in 924. It would appear that his last act was to suppress a Mercian rebellion. William of Malmesbury, the only source to mention it, says (GR II §133):
King Edward, after many noble exploits both in war and peace, a few days before his death subdued the contumacy of the city of Chester [urbem Legionum], which was rebelling in confederacy with the Britons [i.e. Welsh]; and placing a garrison there, he fell sick and died …
It is not clear whether Ealdorman Ælstan is Eadred’s brother or his son (i.e. Esbrid’s brother).
The Historia, being written in Latin, does not use the English title ‘ealdorman’ (source of the modern English title ‘alderman’, the parochial connotations of which, however, do not apply to an Anglo-Saxon ealdorman). Whilst Eardwulf had been titled princeps, from which is derived the modern English title ‘prince’; Ælstan is titled comes (dative singular comiti), from which is derived the modern English title ‘count’.
The term dux, from which is derived the modern English title ‘duke’, is also frequently used by Latin-writers to signify an ealdorman. The equivalent rank amongst the Vikings was the jarl (Old Norse), rendered in Old English eorl, and Old Irish iarla, which translates into modern English as ‘earl’.
Benjamin T. Hudson, in Viking Pirates and Christian Princes (2005), Chapter 1, comments: “He [Eadwulf] might have ruled just the northern part of Northumbria, the old Kingdom of Bernicia, although it is not impossible that he ruled all Northumbria.”
Later in the entries for 913, the Annals of Ulster record a battle that took place on the English coast in which “the gentiles” (i.e. Vikings), presumably those who had settled in the north-west, routed a naval force of the Ulaid (after whom Ulster is named), from north-eastern Ireland.
Symeon of Durham (HR Chronicle Two) places the death of Cuthheard’s predecessor and promotion of Cuthheard s.a. 899. The same date appears in another text that has been attributed to Symeon, the so-called Annales Lindisfarnenses et Dunelmenses (Annals of Lindisfarne and Durham), and this text also implies that Cuthheard’s death was in 913. But, in his tract on the church of Durham, Symeon says (LDE II, 16) that Cuthheard became bishop in the nineteenth year after the community of St Cuthbert had settled in Chester-le-Street, and (LDE II, 17) that he died during his fifteenth year in office. In both chronicles of the HR the establishment of the erstwhile bishopric of Lindisfarne in Chester-le-Street is dated 883. By these tokens, therefore, Cuthheard’s period of office was 901–915.
A 12th century Irish text, Cogad Gáedel re Gallaib (The War of the Irish with the Foreigners), gives Sihtric the epithet Caech (§31), which can be found translated as ‘Squinty’, ‘One Eyed’ or ‘Blind’; whereas the Annals of the Four Masters, an Irish compilation made in the 1630s, calls him Gale (s.a. 917), perhaps ‘Hero’?
In contemporary records, the combined kingdom of Picts and Scots is Pictland (Latin: Pictavia) until the year 900, when the Gaelic name Alba (Latin: Albania) comes into use – Pictish identity simply fades away and all its people become Scots.
At the start of the 10th century, Alba’s territory was, roughly, the mainland of Britain from the Forth-Clyde line northwards, but the far north, Caithness and Sutherland, was in Viking hands – as were the Orkney and Shetland Islands, and the Western Isles. (The Orkney and Shetland Islands were Norwegian dependencies until 1472.) The western side of what is now southern Scotland was the territory of the Strathclyde Britons; the eastern side was in Anglo-Saxon Northumbria.
Viking factions distinguished by the prefixes dub, i.e. ‘black’ or ‘dark’, and finn, i.e. ‘white’ or ‘fair’, first appear in the Annals of Ulsters.a. 851. Another Irish source, sometimes called the Three Fragments, equates the black/dark faction to Danes and the white/fair faction to Norwegians. Some modern scholars, however, dispute this identification. See Black Vikings and White Vikings.
Ricsige (Rixinc in the text), Eadred’s father, may well be the Ricsige who was king in Northumbria (it is not clear whether he was a puppet of the Danes or an independent English ruler) in 876, at the time Halfdan partitioned the kingdom.
It would appear that Ealdorman (princeps) Eardwulf (Eardulf) was ruling somewhere west of the Pennines, and, in a footnote to his paper ‘The Submission to Edward the Elder’ (History New Series Vol. 37, 1952), F.T. Wainwright warns against confusing this Eardwulf with Eadwulf (Eadulf) of Bamburgh (d.913). However, in his entry on Ealdred son of Eadwulf in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004), Benjamin T. Hudson states: “Ealdred succeeded his father in 913, after the murder of Eadulf by an Eadred, son of Rixinc.”
Benjamin T. Hudson (Viking Pirates and Christian Princes, 2005, Chapter 1) writes: “With a generosity of spirit that did him credit, Ragnall first seized the lands for himself but then gave them to Eadred’s sons Esbrid and Æthelstan [i.e. Ælstan] to honour their ferocious fighting in the battle.”
Frank Stenton (Anglo-Saxon England, Third Edition, 1971, Chapter 10) comments that the Historia: “brings out the interesting fact that there were local Englishman of rank fighting on Rægnald’s side.”
This entry is actually dated 912. However, the next entry, which is dated 914, refers to an event in Ireland which the Annals of Ulster date 919.
In the Commentary to his edition of the Historia de Sancto Cuthberto (2002), Ted Johnson South writes: “Given the abundant evidence that the author of the Historia often worked by piecing together pre-existing texts, and given that his grasp of chronology in general and the episcopal succession in particular is less than perfect … it seems more reasonable to assume that there was a single battle at Corbridge around 918, that our author was dealing with references to the same battle in two different sources, and that he was mistaken in placing the incident with Onlafbald during Cuthheard’s episcopate.”
Sir Frank Stenton, Anglo-Saxon England (Third Edition, 1971), Chapter 10.
Alfred P. Smyth, Warlords and Holy Men (1984), Chapter 6.
Ian W. Walker, Lords of Alba (2006), Chapter 3.
Clare Downham, Viking Kings of Britain and Ireland (2007), Chapter 3.
Lesley Abrams, ‘The Conversion of the Scandinavians of Dublin’, in Anglo-Norman Studies XX: Proceedings of the Battle Conference 1997.
Alfred P. Smyth, Warlords and Holy Men (1984), Chapter 6.
Ian W. Walker, Lords of Alba (2006), Chapter 3.
Philip Grierson and Mark Blackburn, Medieval European Coinage Vol. 1 (1986), Chapter 10.
He [Ragnald] was a half Danish king.
By his mother he was English.
Estoire des Engleis 3510–3511
Citing a work he calls the Gesta Anglorum (Deeds of the English), Adam of Bremen claims (I, 41; II, 22) that Ragnald and Sihtric (Sitriuc in the Annals of Ulster) were sons of the Guthred (or Guthfrith) who ruled at York c.883–c.894.[*] But, if that were the case, since Guthred was the son of a Harthacnut, their paternal grandfather could not have been Ivar (Ímar). Benjamin T. Hudson (Viking Pirates and Christian Princes, 2005, Chapter 1) accepts Adam’s identification of Ragnald and Sihtric as Guthred’s sons, arguing that this is not necessarily at odds with the Irish identification, “since Irish ua can mean ‘grandson’ or have the wider meaning of ‘descendant’ ”, and suggests that the brothers were, therefore, not Hiberno-Norse, as is generally supposed, but that they hailed from Danish southern Northumbria.
This individual (it is generally agreed that the same person is being referred to) is named Guthred by Symeon of Durham, but is called Guthfrith by Æthelweard. Guthfrith (Gothfrith in the Annals of Ulster) is also the name of a ‘grandson of Ímar’.
Manuscript A is the only version of the Chronicle to report Edward’s later (915–920) campaigns. As a result of tampering by later scribes, however, these annals are dated four years in advance of the true year. In consequence, the entry for 919 appears s.a. 923.
Adam of Bremen claims (II, 22) that Sihtric was Ragnald’s brother. However, Adam also presents one Olaf, who was actually the son of Guthfrith grandson of Ivar, as the brother of Ragnald and Sihtric – Ragnald, Sihtric and Olaf all being presented as sons of Guthred/Guthfrith (who ruled at York c.883–c.894).
William of Malmesbury (GR II §134) refers to Sihtric as: “a relation of that Gurmund who is mentioned in the history of Alfred”. Gurmund is Guthrum, the Danish king who, following his defeat by Alfred the Great at Edington in 878, reigned as king in East Anglia until his death in 890. Earlier (GR II §121), however, William has Gurmund ruling the “provinces of the East Angles and Northumbrians”. It seems as if he has merged Guthrum of East Anglia and Guthred/Guthfrith of York.
John of Fordun, who drew on William’s work, talks (IV, 20) of: “a certain Danish king of Northumbria and East Anglia – Gurmund”. Ragnald is described as Gurmund’s son, and Sihtric as his kinsman.
Appearing s.a. 924.
Michael Dolley and C.N. Moore (‘Some Reflections on the English Coinages of Sihtric Caoch, King of Dublin and York’, in The British Numismatic Journal Vol. 43, 1973) raise another possibility. Citing the example of the Welsh king Hywel Dda, who, a couple of decades or so later, had coins produced in his name at the English mint in Chester (there is a single known example), Dolley and Moore suggest that Edward, “the tolerant and far-sighted English king”, may have had a similar arrangement with Sihtric: “there is no inherent improbability in Sihtric Caoch having recourse in the same way to the mint of Lincoln”.
This is the first appearance of the title ‘mormaer’, which is the Scottish equivalent of the English ‘ealdorman’ and the Scandinavian ‘earl’.
s.a. = sub anno = ‘under the year’.
Historia Regum (History of the Kings).
Historia de Sancto Cuthberto (History of St Cuthbert), an anonymous mid-11th century compilation. The work survives in three manuscripts, none of which is the original. The scribe of the copy thought to be the earliest (now incomplete, in: Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Bodley 596) is believed to have been Symeon of Durham.
Libellus de Exordio atque Procursu istius hoc est Dunhelmensis Ecclesie (Tract on the Origins and Progress of this the Church of Durham).
In Manuscripts B and C of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, after the entry for 915, is inserted a block of material, covering the years 902–924 and chiefly concerned with Mercian affairs, known as the Mercian Register. In Manuscript D, a not entirely successful attempt has been made to integrate this material with the rest of the Chronicle. It is a peculiarity of Manuscript B that after 652 the year-number is generally omitted, though two entries are dated in the Mercian Register section (904, 905), and these agree with the dates in Manuscript C. The chronology of the period the Register covers is somewhat confused in the main Chronicle, but the dates provided by Manuscript C’s version of the Register are generally considered to be reliable.
Anglo-Norman chronicler Geffrei Gaimar wrote his Estoire des Engleis (History of the English), for a Lincolnshire patroness, round-about 1140. It is the earliest known historical work to have been written in the French language, and is in verse (actually, octosyllabic rhymed couplets). In fact, the Estoire des Engleis is the latter part of a longer work, but the earlier part has not survived. The existing work covers the period from the arrival in Britain of Cerdic (495) to the death of William Rufus (1100). Up to 959, it is based on a lost version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.
The Gesta Hammaburgensis Ecclesiae Pontificum (Deeds of Bishops of the Hamburg Church) was written between 1072 and 1076, though Adam continued to revise it until his death c.1081.
Gesta Regum Anglorum (Deeds of the Kings of England).
John of Fordun’s Chronica Gentis Scotorum (Chronicle of the Scottish Nation) is the earliest full-scale history of Scotland – from legendary origins to the year 1153 in five books. John would appear to have composed his chronicle in the mid-1380s – in the concluding passages of Book V, there is reproduced a genealogy of King David I (r.1124–1153) that the writer says he got from Walter Wardlow, bishop of Glasgow, to whom he gives the title Lord Cardinal of Scotland, which would only be appropriate for the period 1384–1387.