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A Forgotten Century: Kings and Half-Kings in Tenth-century East Anglia

A tenth-century Borre style disc brooch found in Suffolk

with Dr Lucy Marten

in The Old Court, Sutton Hoo (map)
on Saturday, 14th July, 2012

The tenth century is an often overlooked period in East Anglia’s history. Attention has tended to focus upon either Edmund’s death in the ninth century or the Danish/Norman invasions of the eleventh century. Yet this was the period during which East Anglia was (supposedly) drawn in to become part of the emerging polity that was beginning to be called ‘England’ and in which many of the familiar institutions of medieval life were first introduced into the region. These sessions will look in detail at the documentary evidence and question just how ‘English’ East Anglia was as the first millennium approached.

Provisional Programme
  10.00 Coffee on arrival  

The Long Tenth Century: beginnings
In order to understand the politics of East Anglia during the tenth century, this session will look at the historical and archaeological evidence for the region from the death of Edmund in 869 through to the supposed ‘re-conquest’ of the Eastern Danelaw by the West Saxon king, Edward the Elder (ruled 899-924).

  11.15 Coffee  
  11.45 Rule from Wessex? Æthelstan Half-King and his family
According to the traditional interpretation of events, East Anglia was directly controlled by ealdormen appointed by the West Saxon kings of England from 932 onwards. This session will look at the evidence for that rule and examine the nature of East Anglian politics and society during the lifetimes of Ealdorman Æthelstan(known as ‘Half-King’) and his son, Æthelwine.
  12.45 Lunch break (bring picnic or eat in NT restaurant)  
  14:00 Religion and Politics
The tenth century is widely celebrated as a time of monastic reform and growth throughout England, which put the country at the forefront of European culture. This is the period when the great Fenland monasteries of Ely, Ramsey, Crowland and Peterborough were and re-founded. We will examine exactly what was happening in East Anglia and the part played by the political élite of the region.
  15:00 Tea break  
  15:15 Abbo’s Life of King Edmund and the tenth century
This session look at the most famous historical text known to have been written about the region, the Life of St Edmund, written by Abbo of Fleury around 985. We will examine why and for whom it was written. The answers provide insights into the politics of East Anglia in the tenth century and help to explain events as the first millennium approached and the Danish attacks intensified.
  c.16:20 Close  

About Dr Lucy Marten

Lucy Marten completed her Ph.D. at the University of East Anglia in 2005. She has published articles on the shiring of Norfolk and Suffolk, Norman castles, East Anglian rebellion, and Little Domesday. A former Director of the Centre of East Anglian Studies at UEA, she is currently an honorary lecturer in the School of History, and is writing a book entitled The South Folk and the Northmen: Suffolk 840-1086.


Some suggestions for further reading
(useful but not essential)

Janet Fairweather, Liber Eliensis: A History of the Isle of Ely from the Seventh Century to the Twelfth, compiled by a Monk of Ely in the Twelfth Century (Woodbridge, 2005).
C.R. Hart, ‘Æthelstan ‘Half-King’ and his Family’, Anglo-Saxon England 2 (1973), pp. 115-144 and in his volume, The Danelaw (London, 1992)
Jane Kershaw,‘Culture and Gender in the Danelaw: Scandinavian and Anglo-Scandinavian Brooches’, Viking and Medieval Scandinavia 5 (2009), pp. 295-325.
L.Marten, ‘The Shiring of East Anglia: an alternative hypothesis’, Historical Research 81 (2008), pp. 1-27
A. Williams, Kingship and Government in Pre-Conquest England, c. 500–1066 (London, 1999)


Please phone or email to check the availability of places. Study Days are 38 per person, which includes a full day of lectures, access to the NT site, parking, coffee and tea throughout the day, and access to the NT exhibition. Once you have reserved your place please send a cheque to confirm the booking. For your first booking please complete the application form to ensure that we have recorded your contact details correctly.

Wuffing Education,
4 Hilly Fields,
Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 4DX
tel : 01394 386498

Email cliff AT wuffingeducation.co.uk
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Website www.wuffingeducation.co.uk

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We have learnt of the fame of the Wuffing folk-lords of long ago, of how those wolf-kings held the ancestral land of East Anglia....
Updated 13 December, 2012
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