POST ROMAN BRITAIN
Following the final departure of the Roman legions in 410 the indigenous Celtic population, together with retired soldiers and other Roman settlers, were left to fend for themselves. However, more than 300 years of Roman rule left its mark in terms of infrastructure and organisation and so the country was not totally defenceless. However, it was weakened by the progressive subdivision of territories and infighting.
The Anglo Saxon Settlements
In 559, the Angles, who had probably arrived some time before as mercenaries, established the kingdom of Deira, with its base at York. Its territory stretched from the Humber in the south to the Tees in the north and from the sea to the Vale of York in the west. Around 609, Deira was absorbed by its northern neighbour, the kingdom of Bernicia (capital Bamburgh), to form the kingdom of Northumbria, which extended from the Humber to the Scottish border. The capital of Northumbria was York.
The Viking Invasions
The first Viking raids, which took place in the early 790’s were essentially aimed at plunder. However, by the middle of the ninth century, the objective was invasion. In 867 a Danish Viking force, headed by Guthrum, took and burned York. Aelle, king of Northumbria, became a living “blood eagle” sacrifice to Odin. The king of the East Angles suffered a similar fate and the king of Mercia abdicated and fled to Rome. The Danes set up puppet kings in each of these kingdoms (who paid them tributes).
Alfred “the Great”. King of Wessex (871 - 899)
Guthrum’s total domination was only prevented by Alfred. After a number of earlier battles, which he had lost, Alfred’s army fought and defeated the Danes at Edington in 878. Guthrum retreated to his base at Chipping which was put under siege, and starved into submission, by Alfred’s army. Guthrum was taken prisoner and, under the terms of the Treaty of Wedmore, he and his chief men converted to Christianity. Guthrum was renamed Aelthelstan with Alfred as his godfather.
Aelthelstan: Ruler of the Danish Kingdom of East Anglia (8801 - 890)
Alfred and Guthrum developed a mutual respect, or even friendship and in 886, they effectively partitioned England between them with the Danes retaining those areas which they had earlier subjugated. Thus eastern England became, in effect, a province of Denmark, known as the Danelaw. The Danelaw covered about a third of the English kingdom from Yorkshire southwards.
Danish settlements were established and their names are reflected in local place names ending in –by (farmstead or village) and –ton (homestead or farm). The first part of the name was that of the key individual. In Ellerby we have several place names of Anglo Scandinavian origin including Ellerby (Alfweard’s farm), Dowthorpe (Dufa’s hamlet), Langthorpe (Lambi’s village) and Oubrough (owl haunted stronghold).
Athelstan (927 - 939)
King Edward the Confessor (1042 - 1066)
Prior to the Norman Conquest, Ellerby was jointly held by five tenants of the crown: Fran, Eilaf, Man, Turber and Ravenchill.
The Anglo Saxons