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Knottingley and Ferrybridge Local History

THE ANGLO SAXON ERA

At the beginning of the fifth century A.D., the Roman control of Britain was ended and a number of independent kingdoms emerged.  Most of Britain was controlled initially by the British kingdoms while the Anglo-Saxons were confined to the eastern areas.  The inhabitants of the British kingdoms were descendents of the Romano-British population while the Anglo-Saxons were English-speaking Germanic people originating from the Anglian and Saxon regions of Continental Europe, within the modern territories of Holland, Southern Denmark and West Germany.

The next 400 years would see some of the most turbulent times in the countries history.  War was endemic to the kingdoms of sixth, seventh and eight century Britain. An Anglo-Saxon ruler of this period was a warlord with a duty to protect his people and lead them on expeditions of plunder and conquest.

During the sixth and seventh centuries, the Anglo-Saxons expanded westwards until the only areas to remain predominantly British were Cornwall and Wales.  In Yorkshire, the original fifth-century Anglo-Saxon settlement was the East Riding, known at that time as the kingdom of Deira.  Most of the West Riding made up the British kingdom of Elmet.  It is probable that there was also a British kingdom based on York in the sixth century but where the boundary between this kingdom and Elmet was is not certain.  Wherever the boundary lay, the site of Knottingley must have been well within British territory, probably within the kingdom of Elmet itself.  From what is known, it would appear that Knottingley was not occupied until the seventh century.

Late in the sixth century the Anglo-Saxons gained control of York and expanded into the North Riding.  This caused great alarm among the British Kings of the North who united themselves, with all the kingdoms, including Elmet, supplying troops. The British attacked the English army at Catterick in North Yorkshire, probably around the year 600, but suffered a resounding defeat.  This meant that Elmet was permanently cut off from it's allies and left vulnerable to the Anglo-Saxon forces.  Elmet survived in independence until about 617 when it became incorporated into the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria.

Evidence to support the presence of Anglo-Saxons in the vicinity of Knottingley is provided by the existence of pagan burials found around the area.  There are three probable pagan Anglo-Saxon burial sites, two of which are likely to be dated seventh-century although none of them are close enough for it to suggest the presence of an English settlement at Knottingley.

The earliest known form of the name Knottingley is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Notingelai.  The place name is comprised of three elements: Cnotta, presumably a personal name; -inga-, which means 'of the people' and leah, 'a forest clearing'.  It appears then that Knottingley means 'The forest clearing of Cnotta's people'.

The available evidence suggests that  Knottingley was founded by the incoming English settlers as they moved up to the boundaries of Elmet in the early seventh century.  The name indicates that is was most probably a new settlement established in a woodland area and that the inhabitants were known by their tribal name Cnottingas.


PERIODS IN HISTORY | WARS OF THE ROSES | KNOTTINGLEY MANOR


 

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