Volume V | Chapter 2 | Historical Background to the SculptureNext Back to catalogue index
by P. Everson and D. Stocker


This volume is concerned with the Anglo-Saxon stone sculpture of the historic county of Lincolnshire. Before 1974, when the administrative unit of South Humberside was created, Lincolnshire was England's second largest county. The county's boundaries are all ancient, even though its various components were probably only grouped together for the first time in the eleventh century. The county was even then divided into three divisions, the 'Parts' of Kesteven, Holland and Lindsey (Fig. 2), each of which has a longer history as an administrative unit.

The historical territory known as Lindsey is a clearly defined region bounded on the north and east by the Humber estuary and the North Sea (Stenton 1970). On the south it was fringed by the fenland along the course of the river Witham, one of the last areas of fen to be drained in the nineteenth century. To the south-west and west the boundary was the Trent with its marshes and carr lands. In the far north-west and on the western side of the Trent, the entirely separate island of Axholme has always been considered a part of Lindsey, despite its being on the wrong side of the river, no doubt because the Trent crossing was much less hazardous than the journey across the waterlogged wastes of Thorne and Hatfield Chase, by which it was isolated from the West Riding of Yorkshire to the west.

The grain of Lindsey runs north-south with the geology (see Chapter 3). East and south-east of Axholme are the clay lowlands of the Trent Valley, which extend southwards beyond the Lindsey border to form the north-western fringe of Kesteven. Next to the east, also extending north from Kesteven, is the former raised limestone heathland known as the Lincoln Edge, and beyond that again the gentle declivity formed by the clay vales of the Ancholme and Barlings Eau. The highest ground, and the most impressive topography in the county, is formed by the next band to the east, namely the chalk hills of the Lincolnshire Wolds; and finally between the Wolds and the coast is clay marshland.

Later medieval and early modern settlement in Lindsey has been characterised by a dense scatter of small villages with frequent minor market towns, which include Gainsborough, Kirton in Lindsey, Brigg, Barton-upon-Humber, Market Rasen, Caistor, Horncastle, Louth, Alford, Spilsby and Wainfleet. Only Lincoln itself and Grimsby have had a claim to the status of major towns, and Grimsby's attention has always been outwards, towards the sea. Lincoln, on Lindsey's southern border, standing in the strategic gap where the river Witham breaks through the limestone hills of the Edge and (as it were) controlling access by land, has always dominated the territory.

In the south-west, Kesteven is less easily visible in history as a separate entity. It is defined by the Witham in the north, the Trent in the north-west and the ancient prehistoric trackway known as Sewstern Lane in the south-west; but here its boundary was affected by the persistence in the tenth century of the Mercian queens' dowry estate of Rutland, which appears as an arbitrary division in a topographically continuous landscape (Pythian-Adams 1977). By contrast, Kesteven's southern boundary is clearly defined by the river Welland, and its eastern boundary equally clearly by the line along which the fenland edge parishes dive into the fens themselves, a line marked subsequently by the Midfen Dyke. In 1351 the Midfen Dyke and other boundaries between the rivers Witham and Welland are recorded as being marked out by stakes, dykes and stone crosses (Varley 1974, 2).

Kesteven, too, is divided by geology into north-to-south zones, though only three in number since the chalk uplands are absent. Along the north-western edge is the continuation of the Trentside clay vale, drained here by the upper reaches of the river Witham and its tributary, the Brant. Next to the east, quite narrow in the north near Lincoln but broadening out to the south to a width of over twelve miles, is the high limestone plateau known as Lincoln Heath. Major topographical divisions exist within the plateau. These are created by the eastward-flowing river Slea, which rises in the Ancaster Gap – a break in the line of hills as impressive as that at Lincoln itself – and by the parallel valleys of the rivers East and West Glen, flowing south to unite with the Welland. The eastern littoral of the plateau forms the third region of Kesteven, termed the fen edge, which with the limestone plateau extend south and south-westwards into the Soke of Peterborough and Rutland. Consequently, Kesteven can be viewed as the north-eastern extension of a much larger topographical zone – a finger of midland England pointing north-eastwards.

Like Lindsey, Kesteven is a densely settled area, its villages larger and more prosperous than those of Lindsey and the towns of Sleaford, Grantham, Bourne and Stamford more substantial. Indeed, Stamford has a civic tradition second only to Lincoln.

The Parts of Holland are different again. Bounded to the north by the higher land of Lindsey and to the west by that of Kesteven, the south-eastern boundary follows that of parishes, along a line which relates to drainage patterns rendered unimportant since the seventeenth century. This is the Fenland, which has always been one of the most diversely productive areas of England through salt-making, fishing and fowling. It was transformed by the great drainage operations of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, which produced the new landscape of arable fields and market gardens encountered today. Though the area may appear uniformly flat, minor differences of elevation are critical and there are again three geological bands trending north-to-south and then eastwards in a great crescent. A ridge of silt about two and a half miles wide runs down the centre of the land, dividing the peat fen on the west from the salt marsh to the east. This is an area of relatively modern geology, however; stone suitable for sculpture does not outcrop in Holland.

Settlement in Holland has always been concentrated on the silt ridge. This is dominated by very large villages, many of which have always had populations of urban proportions and churches of a size and quality to match. From this pattern of large villages three towns stand out. Crowland developed at the gates of a great island monastery of early pre-Conquest origin. Spalding, though the site of an important monastery by the eleventh century, may have achieved importance earlier as the favoured location where the original rivers Welland and Glen flowing east cut through the silt ridge. Boston, though apparently a new foundation after the Norman Conquest (Owen, D. 1984a), is also sited at a key location where the river Witham breaks through the silt ridge.


(a) The Roman period

The well-drained, productive soils of the Lincolnshire uplands have been attractive to settlement since the Neolithic period (May 1976). Only recently has it become possible to begin to appreciate that the Fenland also was a busy landscape at these early times, its resources being as carefully husbanded in early periods as they were in historic times (Hall and Coles 1994).

Lincolnshire was at the northernmost tip of the first Roman advance into Britain; about AD 45 Lincoln was established as the forward headquarters of the Ninth Legion at the junction of two arterial roads, Ermine Street from London – locally known as the High Dyke from its prominent physical presence in the landscape – and the Foss Way from Leicester and Cirencester (Jones 1980; 1988). Military occupation did not last long, as the legionary base was moved north to York before the end of the century, though Lincoln was not abandoned. By the early second century it had become a colonia; it was one of the most important civil settlements in the province and, by the fourth century, the capital of the sub-province of Flavia Caesariensis (Jones 1993). In the fourth century Lincoln was the seat of one of the British bishops who attended the council at Arles in AD 313. One interpretation of the earliest excavated church at St Paul-in-the-Bail in Lincoln suggests this was the early Christian church of that bishop, built in the centre of the forum (Jones 1994).

Lincoln was not the only town (Whitwell 1970, ch. 5). Later in the period, settlements of various types were given defensive walls at Ancaster (Todd 1981), Caistor (Rahtz 1960), and Horncastle (Field and Hurst 1983), and there were major nucleated settlements of some size and economic diversity at several locations in Kesteven including Stainfield (Dymond 1993) and Sapperton (Simmons 1985), and in Lindsey at Owmby, Staniwells (Smith 1987, 189–94; Whitwell 1989), Winteringham (Stead 1976; Whitwell 1983), Ferriby, Kirmington, Ludford, Ulceby, Burgh-le-Marsh and Dragonby (May 1970; 1976). In the countryside, evidence from air photography (e.g. Jones, D. 1988) points to a complex and layered society and full exploitation of the landscape. The county may have had as many as seventy-five villas (Whitwell 1970, ch. 6), some of which were equipped with fine mosaics like those at Horkstow and Winterton (Stead 1976; Neal 1981). There is some direct evidence for Christian communities, perhaps concentrating in urban and well-to-do rural contexts (Wilson 1968; Thomas 1981). The Roman fenlands were also intensively managed and major Roman drainage systems like the Car Dyke which promoted this, survive in partial use (Simmons 1979). Their settlement pattern was evidently of a more dispersed form than on the higher ground (Phillips 1970; Hall and Coles 1994).

Many Roman structures, and not just those in towns, were built or rebuilt in stone; decorative stone sculpture was also produced locally (Huskinson 1994). A direct consequence is that reuse of Roman building material in structures of the tenth century and later is the rule rather than the exception (Stocker with Everson 1990). Several of the stones catalogued here are cut in reused Roman masonry (Bardney 2, Crowle 1, Lincoln Cathedral 2, Lincoln St Mary-le-Wigford 6), whilst several Roman sculptures have been mistaken, with varying degrees of plausibility, for Anglo-Saxon sculptures in the past (Alkborough 1, Lincoln City 2, Lincoln St Martin 1, Lincoln St Peter 1).

(b) Early Saxon occupation

Evidence for the end of Roman rule in Lincolnshire is imprecise, but the county has many major Anglo-Saxon cemeteries of the fifth to seventh centuries, both predominantly inhumation and cremation, whose excavation has contributed most of what we know of the early Anglo-Saxon period in the county (Dudley 1949; Fennell 1974; Eagles 1979; Eagles 1989). There have been modern excavations at Loveden Hill (Fennell 1974), Ruskington (Atkin and Healey forthcoming) and Baston (Mayes and Dean 1976) in Kesteven, and at South Elkington (Webster 1951), Fonaby (Cook 1981), Cleatham (Leahy 1993), Castledyke at Barton-upon-Humber (Bryant 1994), Elsham Wold (Knowles 1977) and Welbeck Hill at Irby in Lindsey. Information on settlement sites in this period, however, is very meagre and confined to small-scale excavations of a few sites; at Salmonby (Everson 1973), Cherry Willingham (Field 1981) and at Nettleton Top (Field 1988) in Lindsey, and Osbournby (Mahany 1977), Quarrington (Coupland and Walker 1994–5) and Old Sleaford (Harris 1979) in Kesteven. Current work is striving to make more of extensive pottery collections from fieldwalking (Vince 1993b), but the most recent synthesis stresses the great difficulties there still are in building up a picture of the county between the fifth and the seventh centuries (Everson 1993). Towards the end of this period in the late sixth and early seventh century, however, a group of important barrow burials occurs in Lindsey; all have rich grave-goods and presumably indicate the consolidation of a settled hierarchical society, but the collection of material from the Caenby barrow, excavated in 1850, is outstanding nationally (East and Webster forthcoming), and a recent study has pointed towards the local pre-eminence of its occupant (Everson 1993). The only site in Kesteven comparable with these late pagan Saxon barrows in Lindsey is the extensive cemetery at Loveden Hill, which included more than a dozen late inhumations in barrows and an exceptional range of associated finds that may have included Hough-on-the-Hill 2 (see the catalogue entry), which was found nearby. It may be legitimate to see a distinction between Lindsey and Kesteven in this seeming concentration of major burials at a single location in the latter area which were more widely dispersed in the former.

(c) The Middle Saxon period

Such barrows were presumably the monuments of the elite with whom Paulinus came to deal in AD 628 (Bede 1969, 192, ii .16), and in Bede's account of Paulinus's mission of conversion a historically documented event in Lincolnshire is encountered for the first time since the Council of Arles over three centuries earlier. Bede gives other details about the county, and there is an important contemporary saint's life, namely that of St Guthlac of Crowland, also written in the early part of the eighth century (Colgrave 1956); but there is very little other documentary history for the period before the Norman Conquest. There is, for example, only a single genuine Anglo-Saxon charter relating to an estate in the county, with bounds (Everson 1984; Everson and Knowles 1992–3). The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle mentions events in Lincolnshire only occasionally. This paucity of documentary information has two important consequences. First, much reliance has to be placed in arguments which make inferences backwards from eleventh-century sources, especially Domesday Book (Roffe 1977; 1984; 1990; 1992); and second, stone sculpture itself will help fill a gap, since surprisingly it is one of the very few sources of information of any sort for the period that is available in a quantity to sustain analysis.

Study of the area's pre-Viking history has been sharply focused on the extent to which Lindsey was an independent kingdom in the seventh, eighth and ninth centuries, after which, it is supposed, this state was brought to an end by the Viking settlement. A genealogy or list of the kings of Lindsey survives (Foot 1993), and a list of bishops can be constructed, starting with Diuma, who was appointed after 655 and held some responsibility for Lindsey. It includes a sequence of twelve who appear to have been in independent control of the church in the kingdom between 678 and 866x869 (ibid., 137).

The province of Lindsey bursts into the light of documented history in 628 when Paulinus, travelling south from York, baptised the 'praefectus' of Lincoln, named Blæcca, and built a stone church of fine workmanship in the city (Bede 1969, 192, ii .16). In one interpretation of their results, the excavations at St Paul-in-the-Bail in Lincoln may have produced the remains of Paulinus's church (Steane and Vince 1993; but see Jones 1994). The church described by Bede was still in use in 634 when it was the setting for Paulinus's consecration of Honorius as archbishop of Canterbury (Bede 1969, 192, 196, ii .16, 18), but it had fallen into ruin by the time Bede wrote. Evidently, on the one hand the kingdom was evangelised from Northumbrian York and was seen clearly as a province of Northumbria at that date; but even a few years later it was being associated with the province of Canterbury, through the archiepiscopal consecration. The struggle over whether Lindsey was a part of Northumbria or Mercia had already begun.

This struggle continued throughout the Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Scandinavian periods. Lindsey was subject to rule by Northumbria at various times in the mid seventh century, but seems to have been brought decisively within the Mercian sphere of influence following the battle of the Trent in 679, even though it clearly remained a distinct territory, perhaps ruled by sub-kings (Foot 1993, 135). The Tribal Hidage assessed Lindsey, coupled with Hatfield, at 7000 hides (Davies and Vierck 1974). Identification of the early medieval territory of Hatfield with the later Hatfield and Clay divisions of north Nottinghamshire (Parker 1992) confirms the Trent as Lindsey's western boundary; at the same time it emphasises Lindsey's westwards links, since it was coupled with this region of Hatfield administratively and perhaps politically in the seventh and eighth centuries. The assessment also implies a large population and an economic significance equivalent, for example, to the kingdoms of the South or East Saxons. Adding this observation to the large numbers of monasteries, we can glimpse a strong and economically prosperous region, perhaps, which retained its independent economic and cultural identity, though under Mercian hegemony.

For the church in seventh- and early eighth-century Lindsey (see Fig. 6), Bede drew his information from Bishop Cyneberht and from other sources in the kingdom, amongst whom he names his friend Deda, abbot of a monastery at Partney (Bede 1969, 192, ii .16). A personal link with Cyneberht is confirmed by the dedicatory text that Bede wrote for Cyneberht's episcopal church, perhaps situated in Lincoln (Unknown Provenance 1, see the catalogue entry): but if it had not been for Bede's chance friendship with Deda it is likely that nothing would be known of his early monastery. As it is, we know only a little more than Bede tells us (Stocker 1993, 110–12). It may have been through the same source that Bede came to hear about an abbot called Hygbald (Bede 1969, 344, iv .3), whose monastery, later called 'Ceceseg', is thought to have been sited in the valley of the river Ancholme, but about which nothing else is known (Stocker 1993, 113–14). Bede also reports the creation of a great royal monastery founded 'aet Bearuwe', that is 'at the wood or sacred grove', by St Chad acting as bishop of the Mercians in 669 (Bede 1969, 336, iv .3). The precise location of this monastery has been the subject of much recent debate (summarised in Bryant 1994), but it is clearly to be found within the large estate made up of the two later parishes of Barrow and Barton-upon-Humber, which was re-defined in 971 by the only authentic charter with bounds to survive from Anglo-Saxon Lincolnshire (Everson 1984; Everson and Knowles 1992–3).

Pride of place amongst the Lindsey monasteries was given by Bede to that at Bardney (Bede 1969, 246–52, iii .11, 12), founded in the final quarter of the seventh century by the king and queen of Mercia, Æthelred and Osthryth. Æthelred identified himself so thoroughly with the place that he retired here in about 704 to rule it as abbot after his wife's murder. The great contemporary fame of the monastery, however, was due not so much to its prestigious Mercian royal connections as to its principal relics, those of the Northumbrian king and saint Oswald, which were brought here shortly after its foundation and remained until they were removed to Gloucester in about 909 (Earle and Plummer 1892, 94). The belief that the early monastery was sited in the region of the Benedictine abbey refounded by Gilbert de Gant in about 1087 has recently been reviewed, and it is now suggested that the monastery occupied an extensive site incorporating a number of churches (Stocker 1993, 107–10). Bardney's eminence and continuing links with the Mercian royal dynasty throughout the period were reinforced by Offa of Mercia's rich embellishment of the saint's shrine at the end of the eighth century (Alcuin 1982, 35).

The Liber Eliensis also indicates that a monastery was founded by St Etheldreda (Æthelthryth) on the south bank of the Humber in about 672. It is perhaps represented by the church at West Halton, dedicated to St Etheldreda, in a location which recorded patterns of tenure mark out as a pre-Viking estate centre (Dudley 1931, 62, 189; Blake 1962, 30; Roffe 1994). It is possible that the recently excavated site at Flixborough, with its rich material finds and evidence of literacy, has some connection with this foundation; but considered publication of the excavation results is required to allow any judgement on this question (Whitwell 1991; Webster and Backhouse 1991, 94–101). Finally in this list of early church sites, a monastery at Louth produced an eighth-century archbishop of Canterbury and a strong case can be made for its early foundation (Owen, A. 1980).

In contrast to Northumbria at a comparable date (e.g. Cambridge 1984), these early monastic sites are not distinguished by the presence of contemporary stone sculpture, and only Caistor is clearly identified by its inscription as an additional site of similar standing (Caistor 1; see Chapters 7 and 8). The combined evidence emphasises, nevertheless, how incomplete is the picture from Bede, even in Lindsey where he seems quite well-informed. Virtually nothing is known about contemporary secular society in the pre-Viking kingdom. The outstanding excavations at Goltho, east of Lincoln, recovered a few structures of types which have been recognised elsewhere as dwellings of the Middle Saxon period (Beresford 1987). The precise, late pre-Viking date given to these buildings at Goltho has been questioned, however, and it may be that the excavated remains date rather from the period of Scandinavian landtaking from the later ninth century onwards (Everson 1988; id. 1993, 91).

The southern boundary of the kingdom of Lindsey at this date has been a matter of controversy in the past, but most scholars accept Stenton's arguments that it lay along the river Witham, as it remained subsequently (Stenton 1970; Eagles 1989, 211; Yorke 1993, 142–3). Very little is known about pre-Viking Kesteven and Holland, so defined, with the exception of the single site at Crowland (Varley 1974). Recent (1994) excavations on a mid-Saxon site at Gosberton may go some way towards characterising fenland settlement at this period (Hall and Coles 1994, 124).

Crowland in Holland was one of the great monasteries of the Anglo-Saxon period, but remarkably neither saint nor monastery is mentioned by Bede, despite their royal Mercian connections. It had its origins in about 698 in a eremitical retreat founded by Guthlac, a scion of the Mercian royal house. Guthlac sought out an island in the fen for his hermitage and quickly attracted a band of followers, with the result that a monastery was formally established in 716. Those followers included the monk Felix, whose life of Guthlac was written c. 730–40 (Colgrave 1956). It has recently been suggested that Crowland was a large site scattered across the natural enclosure formed by the fen island, with several foci of worship, and that it provides a paradigm for understanding the nature of other early monasteries like Bardney (Stocker 1993, 101–6). It can be surmised from Felix that Crowland itself and presumably the whole of Kesteven and Holland were within the diocese of Leicester (Bailey 1980a).

The Tribal Hidage includes assessments of 600 hides each for two groups of peoples in this part of eastern Mercia. These are the Spalda, thought to be the dwellers on the Holland silt ridge from whom Spalding derives its name, and the Bilmiga, the dwellers along the fen edge in Kesteven, from whose name are derived the modern village names of Billinghay and Billingborough (Davies and Vierck 1974; Courtney 1981, 92; Hayes 1988, 324). Sleaford and Sempringham would have been within this latter territory presumably, and their existence at this date is proved by their occurrence in a mid ninth-century Peterborough charter (Earle and Plummer 1892, 65, s.a. 852; Roffe 1979). The abbot of Peterborough also had a large agricultural estate in Holland around Swineshead (Earle and Plummer 1892, 37, 52, s.a. 675 and 779), whilst Rippingale is first reliably documented in 806 (Sawyer 1968, nos. 68, 162). These references apart, very little else is known about pre-Viking Kesteven, although a fine piece of deduction backwards from much later documents has allowed David Roffe to identify an early monastic site associated with St Etheldreda and St Werbergh at Stow-by-Threekingham (Roffe 1986).

(d) The Scandinavian invasions and the Anglo-Scandinavian period

There was a Viking raid on Lindsey in 838x841 (Earle and Plummer 1892, 64), but it was not until 866x867, when the Viking great army crossed the Humber on their way from East Anglia to attack York, that there was direct contact between the men of Lincolnshire and the Norsemen. In 872x873 the Viking army returned and overwintered on the Trent at Torksey; from there in the following year they moved up river to strike at the heart of the Mercian state at Repton.

Throughout the wars between Alfred and his family and the Viking forces, Lincolnshire was in Danish-occupied territory. It was not until the various re-conquests of eastern and northern England in the first half of the tenth century that the region appeared again in the documentary record. Lincoln and Stamford with their associated territories came to form part of the subdivision of the Danelaw known as the Five Boroughs. The structure of this shadowy grouping is not explained through contemporary documentary sources (e.g. Stafford 1985, ch. 9). It consisted of the five burgeoning urban centres of Nottingham, Derby, Lincoln, Stamford and Leicester, though at various times others may have joined them; and the grouping was held together by an assembly. Each of the towns had developed as a more-or-less independent military and trading centre for a territory in which a new immigrant population from Scandinavia settled, and was governed by its own council of lawmen (Loyn 1965, 20–2; Roffe 1987; Hall 1989). It is likely that these five territories were the Danelaw equivalent of the burhs which the kings of Wessex had established in the south and west, and to each of which the surrounding population was allocated for self-defence in times of war. In Wessex as in the Danelaw, these centres developed through times of peace as manufacturing centres and markets. Perhaps because the Five Boroughs were much more widely spaced than the burhs of Wessex, and therefore each serviced a much larger territory, they rapidly became by English standards major trading centres (Hall 1989), though the output of mints in each borough suggests that they were dominated commercially by Lincoln (Blackburn, Colyer and Dolley 1983, 22–3).

This economic success as much as any political necessity may have encouraged the kings of Wessex to embark on their long reconquest of the Danelaw. In the second decade of the tenth century their progress was rapid. Leicester and Derby were re-taken and re-fortified by Æthelflead in 917 and Stamford was recaptured in 918 by King Edward the Elder. He established a fortress on the south side of the Welland to counterbalance the defended Anglo-Scandinavian enclave on the north bank (RCHME 1977; Mahany and Roffe 1983). The same campaign saw the fall of Nottingham. It is not at all clear that Lincoln was captured by Edward then; it may be, rather, that this was a period when Lindsey once again looked northwards for its protection to Viking-held Northumbria and remained politically a part of that power block while the remainder of the territory of the Five Boroughs returned to southern English control through the 920s and 930s (Roffe 1992). A period of social and economic contact with York in the early and mid tenth century is certainly suggested by the limited numismatic evidence (Blackburn, Colyer and Dolley 1983, 13–15, 25). Some of the early groups of sculpture in Lindsey may also point in this direction (see Chapter 8).

In 939 that power moved south again when Olaf Guthfrithsson re-established Norse rule as far south as Watling Street; but the incursion lasted only until Olaf's own death in 941 and King Edmund's recapture of the whole northern Danelaw, including both Lincoln and Lindsey, in 942 (Earle and Plummer 1892, 110).

This time the re-conquest seemed more permanent. Contacts with York and Northumbria were still strong in Lindsey, however, as is probably reflected, for example, in the incidence of York moneyers alike in the large coin hoard at Tetney (Thompson, J. 1956, no. 355) and the small coin group from North Owersby (Blackburn and Bonsor 1989). Nevertheless, in 953 the bishopric of Lindsey was re-established, apparently as a direct counter-balance to the power of the archbishop of York in advance of the attack on the city in the following year (Whitelock 1959, 73–5; Fryde et al. 1986, 219). The revival of the bishopric of Lindsey in the later tenth century may have provided the stimulus or direct instigation for the rapid development of the parochial system in this part of the country. As is argued below (see Chapter 8), the stone sculpture throws some welcome light on this question. The revived bishopric proved insecure and short-lived as an independent entity. It was merged with those of Leicester and Dorchester in 971, when Bishop Leofwine was made bishop of Dorchester in addition to Lindsey. This may have been done partly to anchor Lindsey firmly to the southern province in the face of the dispute between the archbishops of York and Canterbury over who was to have authority in Lindsey, which had its origins in the seventh century and was not settled until the end of the eleventh century (Owen 1994, 9); but more generally it conformed to a wider pattern of large dioceses in the eastern and northern counties and pluralist tenure of sees, that reflected the poverty of church estates in those regions (Barlow 1963, 163–4). The main episcopal seat, and certainly the diocesan name, were subsequently transferred to the Thames valley, though this may not have happened until 1004. Neither returned until shortly after 1072, when Lincoln was preferred as the new centre of the Norman diocese (Owen 1994). It would be naive to take this as a withdrawal or total disengagement, however. Continuing direct episcopal involvement in Lindsey and an effective administrative structure are indicated by the evidence for an archdeacon of Lindsey perhaps acting for Bishop Eadnoth II (Barlow 1963, 248–9) and for the bishop's role in the rebuilding of Stow church as an episcopal minster in a grand form, substantial parts of which survive (Gem 1984; id. 1988, 26).

In the period between c. 950 and the Conquest there was also a group of new monastic foundations. About 971 the monastery at Crowland was re-founded, following some disruption in the later ninth century, and in 1052 Spalding was founded as a daughter house (Page 1906, 118–19). Knowles and Hadcock accept the evidence for the foundation of a cell of Spalding at Alkborough in the far north-west of the county in the same year (1971, 58). Like Crowland, Bardney has been thought to have been destroyed by the Vikings, but the stone sculpture now provides some grounds for believing that there was some form of continuing ecclesiastical function there despite the removal of St Oswald's relics to Gloucester in 909 (see Chapter 8). The acquisition by Peterborough of the ancient estate of aet Bearuwe in 971 has the appearance of the preliminary to an intended refoundation, but this was never implemented (Everson 1984; Everson and Knowles 1992–3). At Stow-in-Lindsey the lower parts of the spectacular early crossing surviving in the parish church are best explained as the remains of the mid eleventh-century church of an episcopal foundation for secular clerks, made with the patronage of Earl Leofric and Lady Godiva in the early 1050s and displaying an awareness of architectural ideas that apparently have their origin in the early Romanesque workshops of France and Germany (Gem 1984). Domesday Book adds other potentially similar Anglo-Saxon colleges to the list, such as that at Castle Bytham, though in this case there is no information regarding the circumstances of its foundation. It is likely that the churches at major centres such as Caistor, Grantham and Horncastle were also served by collegiate institutions of similar type (Owen 1971, 1–2; id. 1994, 7–8). In Lincoln itself there are several churches whose status is suspected of being more exalted (Table 8), in addition to the many late Anglo-Saxon parish churches. In particular, attention has focused on St Martin, whose early significance for the town may be indicated by the issue of coinage dedicated to this saint in the early tenth century (Stewart 1967; Mossop 1970; Hill 1932–3; id. 1948; Bassett 1989), and the twin churches of St Peter at Arches and St Peter Pleas (Hill 1948, 61, 130–1; Bassett 1989; Gem 1993b). When the see was moved to Lincoln after 1072, the new cathedral occupied the site of the church of St Mary of Lincoln, but the precise status of this church and the age of its foundation has been the subject of some recent debate, in which stone sculpture has a part to play (see Chapter 8; Owen 1984b; Bassett 1989; summarised in Owen 1994, 10–13).

At the foundation of the cathedral in Lincoln in 1072, the town probably already had most of its nearly fifty medieval parish churches (Morris 1989, fig. 39). The great majority of these were recent foundations and the chronology revealed in excavations at St Mark's church situated in the southern suburb of Wigford is probably typical of many; it was founded in the mid tenth century and underwent a rapid expansion in terms of burial population, and saw a concomitant increase in size of the church building, through to the thirteenth century (Gilmour and Stocker 1986). The excavations at St Mark's church in Lincoln have a special place in the study of the Anglo-Scandinavian sculpture of Lincolnshire, first because there were so many monuments recovered and secondly because they were to some extent datable stratigraphically (Stocker 1986a; and see the catalogue entries). The excavations at St Paul-in-the-Bail have also revealed a church of this date and produced some early sculpture (see the catalogue entry), but its character awaits definition in a published report.

The later tenth century was also the period of the origin, under English influence, of the network of hundreds and wapentakes as the basis of local administration (Roffe 1992, 39–42). It may be that it was at this stage also that Lindsey was, like Yorkshire, divided into 'Ridings'. During this development of administrative institutions, perhaps in the early eleventh century (Taylor 1957), the territory attached to Lincoln, i.e. Lindsey, was augmented by that attached to Stamford, i.e. parts or all of Kesteven and Holland. Exactly when and why this was done is somewhat mysterious (Loyn 1965; Mahany and Roffe 1983; Roffe 1992), but the subordination to Lincoln of the territory which had formerly looked to Stamford, to create the new Lincolnshire, was to prove practical and last for a millennium.

In the period from the late ninth century, Lincolnshire, like the East Midlands and Northumbria generally, undoubtedly saw an influx and settlement of peoples speaking Scandinavian languages and this is clearly illustrated by any distribution map of place-names ending in –by or –thorpe. However, there is little consensus about the extent to which this place-name information can be used to suggest numbers of in-comers or their status, beyond agreement that the settlement was extensive, and that Lincolnshire, with the intriguing exception of the Parts of Holland (Ekwall 1948), was one of the most densely settled regions (Fellows-Jensen 1968; Cameron 1973; 1978a; 1978b). Clearly, though, there was a mixed population and one whose contacts with Scandinavia could prove just as binding as those with Wessex. Such independence is recognised in the law codes of Edgar and Æthelred, in which the separate laws and institutions of the peoples in this area of Danish settlement are fully recognised. Some effects of this independence may also be detectable in their stone sculpture (see Chapter 8).

Even so, little is known about the circumstances of these new or newly-owned settlement sites. The implication, both of the inauguration of a parochial system and of the installation of new administrative units, may be that it was at this crucial period in the tenth century that rural Lincolnshire started to become a land settled with nucleated villages rather than scattered farmsteads. Even though the distribution of stone sculpture is now usable within this discussion (see Chapter 8), the detailed picture of the rise and fall of specific settlement sites is a complex matter and may not be adequately served by simple generalisations (Everson, Taylor and Dunn 1991, 8–28). However, with reservations about the precise dating apart, the excavations at Goltho have showed in great detail what one manorial complex of the later tenth century looked like and how it developed (Beresford 1987), even if complementary evidence from the village excavations was not so clearly forthcoming (Beresford 1975).

In the towns also this was a formative period. The evidence from Lincoln suggests that the old enclosure of the lower Roman town, and the area around the river, began to be intensively occupied in the late ninth century (Vince and Jones 1990). In what may have been a dedicated industrial area in the south-eastern corner of the walled town, pottery was produced as part of a regionally important ceramic industry (Miles, Young and Wacher 1989, 234; Gilmour, L. A. 1988), and at Flaxengate good evidence was recovered for the substantial timber structures of the tenth- and eleventh-century inhabitants and for their employment in manufacturing crafts (Perring 1981; Mann 1982). Lincoln was clearly a trading centre from the mid tenth century onwards, when it had contacts with Scandinavia and the Rhineland across the North Sea, although the great bulk of the town's business as evidenced in excavations was regional rather than international. On the other hand, the large numbers of coins from Lincoln mints found in Scandinavia may suggest that Lincoln dominated English trade with parts of the Baltic in the early tenth century (Blackburn, Colyer and Dolley 1983, 22–5), and Lincoln's place in the national economy in the period between Æthelred II and Edward the Confessor is reflected in its coin production by comparison with York, which it runs close, while both are exceeded only by London itself (Hill 1948, 30–1). The stone sculpture from what were probably quarries around the town certainly supports the suggestion of Lincoln's dominance in Lindsey, though its influence in Kesteven is more debatable (see Chapter 8).

Stamford, too, saw an upsurge in economic development in the tenth century, as evidenced by the scale of coining by its important mint (Earle and Plummer 1892, 116, s.a. 963; Wells 1934–44; Loyn 1965, 23–4), by extensive iron-working in the town, and by its tenth-century pottery industry, which owed its expansion to new skills imported by the Scandinavian trader-settlers (Kilmurray 1980; Mahany, Burchard and Simpson 1982; Mahany and Roffe 1983). Stamford's population at Domesday may have been about 3,000 individuals (Loyn 1965) and Lincoln's perhaps nearer 6,000.

By the time of Domesday Book, Lincolnshire also had other smaller towns: boroughs or their burgesses are recorded at Torksey, Grantham and Louth. Torksey also had a mint, and excavations have revealed a little of a town apparently dedicated to commerce and again containing an important pottery production centre (Barley 1964; 1981). Little is known, however, of the pre-Conquest towns of Grantham or Louth, whilst short-lived mints were established at Horncastle and Caistor under Edward the Martyr and Æthelred II, at settlements whose legal status at this date is uncertain. Literary sources that refer to Grimsby fail to characterise it as the port it presumably was, but, significantly, relate it to York, Northumbria and to Scandinavia, rather than to Lindsey and Mercia (Gillett 1970, 6–10). This is an interesting observation in the light of the grave-covers of somewhat anomalous types from nearby Holton le Clay and Humberston (see the catalogue entries).

All told, Lincolnshire was a place of significance by the end of the tenth century. It experienced Viking raids along with much of England, including that by a Danish army in 993 – although Florence of Worcester says that the men of Lindsey were on the Danish side! Perhaps local support contributed to its selection in 1013 as the route for the invasion of the forces of King Swein and Cnut of Denmark, who established a court at Gainsborough at which tribute was paid to them by the leaders of all the old Danelaw territories. Cnut's alliance with the men of Lindsey – which affords further evidence, if such were needed, of their political independence of mind – was abandoned in the face of King Æthelred's avenging army, which 'slew every human being they could find' (Earle and Plummer 1892, 145, s.a. 1014). In 1015 by the treaty of Alney, Lincolnshire became first part of a re-established Danelaw and then part of an Anglo-Scandinavian kingdom of England, following the death of the West Saxon king Edmund. A similar integration of the county into eastern England more widely may also be deduced from the latest groups of stone sculpture (see Chapter 8).

In the earlier eleventh century there is evidence for an ealdorman of Lindsey, comparable to other administrative divisions of the country. In the latest pre-Conquest period Lincolnshire fell within the remit of the Mercian earls Leofric, Ælfgar and Edwin, whose holdings in 1066 included such anciently important places as Kirton in Lindsey, whilst comparable places in both Lindsey and Kesteven like Caistor and Castle Bytham were also comital estates in the hands of Morcar, and others again including Grantham, Nettleham, Gayton le Wold and Horncastle were royal holdings in the hands of Queen Edith (Foster and Longley 1924; Williams and Martin 1992). Lindsey was raided by Tostig in the summer of 1066 but he was defeated by a local force under Earl Edwin of Mercia. However, Tostig in alliance with Harald Hardrada was back in England in September and directing his attention at York, only to be defeated at the battle of Stamford Bridge. Harold Godwinson passed through the county via Littleborough and Lincoln on his way to his own nemesis at Hastings. After that victory, William of Normandy included Lincoln as a priority in his northern tour in 1068 that was aimed at securing the further reaches of his new realm through a military grip on the main urban centres, and to that end he founded Lincoln castle. Once the new cathedral had been established alongside it following 1072, the city and the county were ready to take their place as one of the Normans' most significant possessions.

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