In the year 937 a great battle was fought between the Anglo-Saxon king, Æthelstan, leading a combined Mercian and West Saxon army and a coalition of forces led by Anlaf Guthfrithson, the ruler of Dublin, and Constantine, king of Alba (part of modern Scotland).
The two sides met at a place recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as Brunanburh.
The location of Brunanburh has remained a bit of a mystery but Wirral Archaeology CIC as well as several leading historians believe that battle took place on the Wirral.
The reason for Anlaf and Constantine challenging Æthelstan is often debated but since he came to the throne in 927 he had pursued an aggressive expansionist policy. By 937 the borders of Æthelstan’s kingdom closely match those of modern day England. In the course of securing these borders Æthelstan had wrested control of York from Anlaf’s father, Gurthfrith, and invaded Alba and Strathclyde forcing their kings, Constantine and Owain ap Dyfnwal to recognise him as their lord.
In the autumn of 937 these three kings along with men from other viking settlements in Ireland, the Isle of Mann and the Hebrides joined forces with the aim of forcing Æthelstan back into his own kingdom.
The battle, although a costly affair, was a victory for Æthelstan and ensured that his achievements would be remembered and he himself could arguably be called the first King of England.
To find out more, contact us or visit WitralInfoBank
For more information on Wirral Archaeology’s search for the battlefield visit our project page – The Search for the Battle of Brunanburh.
A recent find of the groups that has just been verified by the Portable Antiquities Scheme is this coin of Edward I.
It is listed on finds.org.uk under reference LVPL-361C79
The coin is a rather worn long cross silver penny dating from May to December 1279. It was minted at the Canterbury mint.
The National Archives on nationalarchives.gov.uk have a currency converter and for the year 1280 they give the value of a penny as a modern equivalent of approximately £2.89.
Edward I was King from 1272-1307 and was involved in wars in both Wales and Scotland.
He was the English king portrayed in the film Braveheart which was about as historically inaccurate as any film can possibly be and this and other historical films errors might well be the subject of a future article !
Upon his tomb in Westminster Abbey is inscribed in Latin script “Edward the First Hammer of the Scots” . However it was in Wales that Edwards authority was stamped
The Welsh wars started in 1277 and both Flint and Rhuddlan castles in North Wales were under construction at the time this coin was minted in 1279.
A second war broke out in 1282 which resulted in the construction of further castles including Conwy, Caernarfon, Harlech and the death of the last Welsh born Prince of Wales – Llewelyn ap Gruffydd.
A further rebellion happened in 1294 and Beaumaris Castle was built after this was quashed.
Vast sums of money for the period were spent on the castles. Fortunately for historians many records actually survive in relation to the expenditure on the castles and detail both materials costs and wages.
Flint castle cost around £7000 including workers wages and Rhuddlan around £9200.
Not surprisingly given our areas proximity there were a number of local connections to the Welsh castles and it is highly likely that some of that money found its way here. Of 26 medieval coins listed as being found on Wirral 8 are from the reign of Edward I.
A lot of the stone for Flint Castle was quarried at Ness and was ferried across the Dee to the construction site.
Timber for the Welsh castles came from the Kings forests at Chester and Toxteth.
One of the named masons is Robert of Frankby.
There was a pathway across the Dee from the castle at Shotwick through to Flint and this path is still shown on maps from the 1700’s
The engineer in charge at Flint was a Richard L’Engenour who was paid a shilling a day. He was an ancestor of the Duke of Westminster and lived in Lower Bridge Street in Chester. He was later Mayor of Chester in 1304.
To find out more about what we do see our website at – https://www.wirralarchaeology.org
or contact us for membership enquiries – https://www.wirralarchaeology.org/pages/contact/
The March edition of ‘The Wirral Archaeologist’ is available this weekend.
Articles include four pages of photographs from the ‘Meols Boat Investigation’, ‘The Burton Skeletons’, ‘The Battle of Fulford Gate’ and the story of ‘Captain Robert Salusbury Trevor’.
This is delivered free to members but will be available for purchase on the Wirral Archaeology CIC stand at The History and Heritage Fair at Hulme Hall, Port Sunlight on 25th March
An incomplete and corroded copper alloy Roman sestertius of unclear type, dating to the period c.AD 41-260. Both faces are illegible. Unclear mint.
When this find came out of the ground of caused a bit of head scratching as we didn’t recognise it.
Some good searching of the Portable Antiquities Scheme database by one of our members led us to believe that it was an incomplete medieval purse bar.
This was confirmed when it was submitted to PAS and the below link will take you up the full description.
The vertical bar in the photos above still rotates which is impressive as it dates from 1400-1600.
An incomplete copper alloy purse bar dating to the late medieval to post medieval period (c.AD 1400-1600). Williams (2018) Class C1.
The object consists of a central sub-rectangular block with a small arms protruding from each side. One arm is broken, the other is complete and has a circular section and terminates in a rounded knop. Separately attached to the arm is a small suspension loop with a worn break. Atop of the block is an incomplete oval loop which has an integral shaft that penetrates through the central block to the other side and is finished with a rounded knop. This acts as a swivel and still moves. One face of the is worn and shows the shaft of the swivel. The object is undecorated and has a worn surface with a light green patina.
Dimensions: Length 31.2mm; width 40.7mm; thickness (block) 7.6mm; weight 15.64g
‘Thank you so much for your time, energy and ideas last week which allowed us to find our boat.
I had to remove the final cores for laboratory examination once I realised that only the fibres had survived in the wood and I have ordered a spray system to slowly flush the silt that is holding the ‘wood’ in place.
I am quietly confident that this careful work will reveal the shape and a good estimate of the size of our boat.
It was a real challenge to locate it at such a depth, surrounded by so many obstacles and I very much appreciate to way we solved each problem together.
I will let you have the results as soon as they emerge but the fragile nature of the evidence means it will take some time to analyse.
Till then, my sincere thanks. It was a pleasure working with you all.
Interested in finding out more about what we do then get in touch – Contact
A lead object, possibly a gaming piece or a weight, possibly dating to the early medieval period onwards (c.AD 850-1700).The object is small and conical in shape. A portion is missing from the side, likely due to recent plough damage. The base is flat. The surface is rough with a seam running around the centre which when observing the damaged portion, it presents a section of two layers of lead forged together. The object has a rough and pitted surface but is otherwise undecorated. It has a white / light grey patina.Dimensions: Length 14.38mm; diameter (base) 18.9mm; weight 27.51g
Interested in finding out more about what we do then get in touch – Contact
Not old enough to be recorded on PAS but still interesting as part of the Wirral story.
Here we have a penny coin dated 1826 issued during the reign of King George IV.
He was king from 1820 until his death in 1830 but had acted as Prince Regent from 1811 during his father King George III mental illness.
George IV was the eldest child of King George III and Queen Charlotte. He led an extravagant lifestyle that contributed to the fashions of the Regency era. He was a patron of new forms of leisure, style and taste.
He commissioned John Nash to build the Royal Pavilion in Brighton and remodel Buckingham Palace, and commissioned Jeffry Wyatville to rebuild Windsor Castle.
Again this find is not old enough to be recorded on the British Museums database but it is on ours.
It is a silver sixpence from 1887. This was a significant year in the reign Queen Victoria as it marked 50 years she she became Queen in 1837.
She reigned until her death in 1901 and she reigned for 63 years and 216 days.
Queen Elizabeth II reigned for 70 years and 214 days.
It is the end of the investigation week but there is still a long way to go till we discover the age of the boat under the car park.
The ‘dig’ was carried out by a team from Wirral Archaeology CIC working in partnership with the pub owners, Greene King. Work was performed under the supervision of professional archaeologist, Charles Jones, who has spent many years researching the site of the Battle of Fulford (1066), and scientist Professor Stephen Harding of Nottingham University.
The investigation was not a ‘dig’ as we would traditionally understand it but an investigation using a series of specially drilled holes to try to obtain wood samples from the ship in order to analyse and try to ascertain its age.
Whatever donation you can give will be appreciated and it’s so easy to donate using gofundme.
If you are interested in finding out more about what we do then contact us