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Wirral Learning Grid - The Vikings - Ask Steve

Professor Stephen Harding provides us with more in depth information about the Vikings arrival in Wirral.

Harald Harfagre & Ingimund

Harald Harfagre (Harald Fine Hair) and Ingimund

A significant movement as far as the North West of England was concerned was the great migration of people out of Norway. The start of this exodus was believed to be 890 A.D. when Norway - previously a collection of little mini-kingdoms, became united under one king after a battle known as the Battle of Hafrsfjord or Havsfjord in the south west of Norway. (If you look on a map of Norway it is near Stavanger).

The new Norwegian warrior-king was Harald Harfagre (Norwegian meaning "fine-hair" or "beautiful-hair") so named because he was supposed to have had the most beautiful head of fair hair anyone had seen! Despite this he was quite ruthless and many of the people in the western fjords and north of Norway chose to leave Norway and the large fjords such as the Sognefjord, Hardanger and Trondheim fjords. One of the chiefs who left one of these areas was a certain Ingimund: we'll be hearing more about him later.

These Norwegian Vikings, who we call Norsemen, and their families poured out of Norway heading to the Northern and western isles of Scotland and the Faroe Islands: many then headed further west, onto Iceland, Greenland and some even made it further and discovered America - four centuries before Christopher Columbus. Many though headed downwards towards the Irish Sea, some settling in the Isle of Man and others settled in very large numbers in Dublin, Ireland which became a Viking controlled area.

However, in the year 902 A.D. the Irish drove them out. Ancient Irish and Welsh chronicles tell of how the Norsemen left Ireland under their leader Ingimund, travelling straight across the Irish Sea (much the same route as the current Dublin-Holyhead ferry) and landed in Anglesey. This was only a short respite as they were then driven from there too by the king of the Welsh. The weary refugees then made a representation to the queen of the English, Queen Aethelflead, daughter of Alfred the Great, and the Chronicles tell of how they were granted land to settle in Wirral so long as they stayed there and kept away from Chester.

So in the year 902 AD Wirral became awash with Norse refugees, a movement which the historians called a mass migration. The Irish Chronicle reports the expelled masses of Norsemen only going to Wirral, although place-name evidence tells us they subsequently settled in other areas along the north west coast of England, particularly the Lake District.

Having established a safe "Norseland" they were joined by more and more of their countrymen, coming from the Isle of Man, western Scottish Isles and even direct from their motherland Norway: Norsemen who chose to live as freemen in Ingimund's land rather than under the oppressive rule of the tough man Harfagre.

This movement may have continued until well into the next century and we will see later what the consequence of this was for Wirral and its surrounding hinterland.

How Did They Come?

How Did They Come?

Many of the Vikings travelled by longboat to Ireland and then across to Wirral. The longboats were large ships consisting of a single deck with oars and a sail which could be put up or down as suited. They were designed to be long and slim so that they could travel in and out of narrow rivers quickly. The boat could be driven forwards or backwards so there was no need to turn the boat around.

They would have arrived in Wirral probably between Meols and West Kirby.

Meols (old Norse melr - sandbank) had been used many years earlier by the Romans and was revived by the Vikings as a major seaport after their arrival. So it was probably here that many of the refugees expelled from Ireland disembarked some 1100 years ago. This video clip has more information about the seaport at Meols.

Unfortunately none of the longboats used by the Wirral Vikings have survived. In fact only a small number remain in Scandinavia, such as the Gokstad and the Oseberg ships which are now restored and on display at the Viking ship museum in Oslo.

The Three Fragments

The Three Fragments

The ancient Irish annals known as The Three Fragments were significant in documenting the mass exodus from Ireland in to Wirral of Ingimund and his fellow Norsemen. These documents have been under scrutiny for the last 140 years since their discovery but are now accepted as genuine accounts of the arrival of the Norsemen into Wirral in 902 A.D. or shortly after.

The difficulties were that the original vellum manuscripts recording the Ingimund Story or "saga" were lost long ago, and all we have surviving is a 1643 copy (now in a museum in Brussels) of an earlier copy. But the painstaking work of scholars, particularly Frederick Threlfall Wainwright have shown that the part describing the Scandinavian settlements of Wirral at around 902 AD and the subsequent attacks on Chester in 907AD must have been true.

Besides the Three Fragments, and all the Scandinavian place-names in Wirral, the ancient Welsh chronicles also tell of the expulsion of the Norsemen - and their leader Ingimund - from Ireland in 902 AD and unsuccessful attempts to land in Anglesey and other relevant events were happening and recorded by Anglo-Saxon chroniclers. They tell of a strengthening of the Saxon stronghold of Chester around 907AD together with the fortification of other Saxon strongholds nearby such as Runcorn, Shotwick and Eddisbury.

This was done to contain the Wirral Norsemen from expanding southwards into Cheshire and beyond. If the account of Ingimund's arrival was false then there would have had to be some other group of Norsemen arriving in the same area at the same time.

Viking Routes into Wirral

Viking Routes into Wirral

Most of the Norwegian Vikings came to Wirral via Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Scottish Isles, with many coming in 902 AD with Ingimund, after their expulsion from Ireland.

The ancient chronicles report also significant numbers of Danish Vikings in Wirral. They may have come with the Norwegians from Ireland, but Professor Gillian Fellows-Jensen at the University of Copenhagen has made an interesting suggestion of them coming from their stronghold in Yorkshire based on the route shown in the map below. (The dots on the map show all the place names ending in "by".) The Danes were also know to have raided and captured Chester in 893AD - and it is possible that some may have stayed behind in Wirral after this period.


The Thing at Thingwall

Thingwall is in the centre of the Viking area of Wirral. Thingwall is a very historic place but very few people in Wirral realise its historic significance. It is here that the Vikings held their parliament which was called the Thing.

A "Thing" in Old Norwegian meant "place of Assembly or Parliament". "Wall" comes from the old Norse "volr" which means "field". So Thingwall means "Assembly Field".

There are 9 or 10 other Thingwalls in the British Isles such as Tynwald (in the Isle of Man), Tinwald (in Shetlands) and Thingwall Hill (in Wavertree), but the most famous is Thingvellir in Iceland (vellir means "fields") Icelanders held their parliament here from 930 A.D. until relatively recently.

Wirral's Thingwall in fact probably predates Thingvellir by some 30 years and Tynwald in Isle of Man by some 75 years. Here the Norse chiefs in the area and all the "free men" would meet once or twice yearly to discuss policy and law.

It would also be a great Festival occasion - you could think of this as an ancient form of the current Wirral Show. It would also meet in cases of emergency and it is highly probable that in 907AD it was here, at Cross Hill, Ingimund called a meeting of the Thing to plan the attacks on Chester. And in 937AD - if it was true that the Battle of Brunanburh did take place on Wirral - then it is likely another emergency meeting was held to discuss what to do about the arrival into the peninsula of the various feuding armies. If they had any sense the locals would have decided to stay well clear!

Place Names

Place Names

We have already mentioned 3 place names on Wirral with Norwegian Viking origins. They were Tranmere (from Trani-melr - crane sandbank), Meols (just sandbank!) and also West Kirby.

Watch this video about the only team in the English football league with a Norwegian Viking name.

West Kirby is interesting because Kirby comes from kirkja-byr which is old Norse for "settlement (byr or by) with the church (kirkja)". It was given this name by the Norsemen because of the church they founded called St. Bridget's, named after the patron saint of Ireland. Some of the Vikings were Christian by the time they arrived in Wirral, having been converted in Ireland (some say this was a remarkable achievement by the Irish!).

But why the "West" (or in Old Norse vestri)? The reason is the Vikings, upon their arrival, discovered an older Saxon church - now called St. Hilary's - in what is now Wallasey Village and they called that place Kirkby (settlement of the church). So the Norsemen had a West Kirby and a Kirby or Kirkby. Absolutely perfect sense!

In this video, Professor Stephen Harding tells us more about Viking place names. In fact there are hundreds of place names in Wirral which have Norwegian origins and even a few with Irish origin like Liscard (meaning a hall on a rock) and Noctorum (meaning a hill that's dry).

The Frank in Frankby represents a Frenchman so it was the "Frenchman's by".

Greasby means "settlement at the copse" and Pensby means "settlement at a hill called Peen" and further down the Wirral is Whitby "the white manor or village" and at the bottom of the peninsula Helsby ( (hjalli-byr village at the ledge)

Other "by's" which no longer exist include Haby in Barnston parish, Eskby or Hesby in Bidston parish, Warmby which used to be on the coast down what is now Broad Lane Extension in Heswall, Kiln Walby in Upton and Stromby in the Thurstaston parish.

Haby means "high settlement"

Eskby and Hesby means "settlement by the ash trees".

Kiln Walby probably means the Gildsmans settlement near a well. Warmby means "warm settlement".

Stromby means "settlement by a stream".

Perhaps the most interesting though is Syllaby, the by or settlement named after the Norse lady Sylla

Place Names Continued

Place Names Continued

In the original Norse area of Wirral the boundaries were defined by the River Mersey, the Irish Sea, the River Dee and a line cutting across from Ness/Neston, underneath Raby and probably up what is now lower Dibbinsdale/Plymyard dale (this used to be called Mikledale from the Old Norse mikill meaning great or large and dalr meaning valley - so "great valley") .

The boundary probably runs along the great valley up along the ridge of high ground (now Mount Road) separating Bebington from Storeton then up to Tranmere and there are old field names in the area of the boundary such as Dedemonnes Greue ("dead man's wood") and Lathegestfeld (probably meaning "unwelcome guests field") and Gremotehalland ("place of meeting under a truce") which may have derived from the time the Scandinavian and surrounding communities were separated.

West Kirby is interesting because Kirby comes from kirkja-byr which is old Norse for "settlement (byr or by) with the church (kirkja)". It was given this name by the Norsemen because of the church they founded called St. Bridget's, named after the patron saint of Ireland. Some of the Vikings were Christian by the time they arrived in Wirral, having been converted in Ireland (some say this was a remarkable achievement by the Irish!).

What do you think is the significance of the name Raby?

It is an old Viking name ra-byr meaning boundary or border settlement.

Now look at the distribution of the major place names in Wirral with Norwegian (or Irish-Norwegian) origins. Most of these lie within the boundary. But now look at the distribution of all the names (this includes minor field names and road names) with Norse roots. You can see that the Vikings were to spread throughout the whole of Wirral.

Look at these diagrams

The image below shows major Wirral place names with Scandinavian elements.

Bear in mind also the Vikings would not have changed the name of an existing Celtic or Anglo-Saxon name (unless they couldn't pronounce it) so the Scandinavian settlement in Wirral must have been significant.

Common road and field names in Wirral with Norse origin are carr (which comes from kjarr meaning marshy area), holm or home (which doesn't mean house but comes from holmr meaning an island of useful land in a marshy area), slack (which comes from slakki meaning a cutting or hollow through some hilly or rocky area), breck (from brekka) which is a slope on a hillside and rake (which comes from rak meaning a lane) If you know any Rake Lanes then it means double use of lane, literally Lane Lane!

It is no use just identifying a place that sounds Norwegian as evidence of the presence of Norwegian Vikings. The antiquity (that means how ancient) of a place needs to be established. A good starting point for the information has come from a complete survey of the Wirral area undertaken between the years 1830 and 1850.

It was a survey of who owned land in all of the parishes, who rented from these landowners, what the fields, roads etc. were all called and where they were located. This survey is known as the Tithe map survey. Tithing is an old English name meaning to rent or let people live on your land so long as they paid you regular amounts of money - known as rental. These Tithe maps and rental details have been extremely valuable. In fact some land ownership details go back almost to the time of the Viking period. If place names are similar to those appearing on Tithe maps we can have some certainty they derive from the Viking period.

A large number of these documents have been discussed in a magazine, or journal, which used to appear monthly (from 1890 to about 1965) called the Cheshire Sheaf. This magazine has greatly helped researchers working on Wirral's Viking history.

Acts of Expansion

Cheshire and West Lancashire

The ancient story of Ingimund tells of him leading persistent Wirral Norse attacks on the English held city of Chester in the early part of the 10th century. The story finishes "it was not long after that they came (back) to wage battle again".

Did they succeed? Presumably the answer was partly yes (but by diplomatic rather than violent means) because by the time of the Norman Conquest (1066AD), approximately a quarter of the population was Scandinavian (based on the proportion of the names of Moneyers with Scandinavian names working in the city and landowners in the area).

What do you think is the significance of the name Raby?

Some major Viking finds have been found in Chester. There is also evidence in place names such as Clippe Gate and Wolfeld's Gate (after the Norse man Klyppr and lady Ulfhildr) and the existence of two churches founded by Norsemen who came from Ireland, St Bridget's Church in West Kirby and and St Olave's (just off Lower Bridge Street).

St Bridget is one of the two patron saints of Ireland (the other being St Patrick). St Olave is the patron saint of Norway.

The Norsemen spread out beyond the original boundary to all over the peninsula and also across the River Dee to the North Wales coast (places like Talacre and the Point of Ayr) and across the River Mersey up the Liverpool coast (places like Aintree, Crosby, Formby, West Derby, Scarisbrick, Skelmersdale, Lathom and Ormskirk).

The Liverpool Norsemen were served by a local or district Thing at another Thingwall near Wavertree.

Norsemen settled all the way up the Lancashire Coast and many settled in Cumbria, we know this again from place name evidence, archaeological finds and impressive stone carvings.

Ingimund's arrival into Wirral however remains the only record from ancient documents recording the mass movement of Norsemen into the North West of England.

The Battle of Brunanburh

The Great Debate

By 937 A.D. 35 years after the initial settlement, Wirral may have been the site of a huge battle between the Anglo Saxons coming from the South and Midlands and a combined army of Viking raiders coming from Dublin and their Scottish allies coming mainly from Strathclyde. No-one is quite sure where this battle took place, although the majority of experts favour Wirral. The main reason is that the contemporary record of the Battle - the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle describes the battle having taking place (around Brunanburh) - which happens to be the old name for Bromborough. Indeed if Wirral Borough Council - or whatever it was called in the Middle Ages - hadn't decided to change the name then I suppose there would be no debate!

The Chronicle also explains how some of the raiders escaped to Dublin from Dingesmere - which has now been explained as the "mere" or "marr" (meaning wetland/ marshland) travellers coming by sea to the Viking Thing parliament at Thingwall. Some later writers, writing about the battle over 100 years after the battle took place (in some cases 200-300 years, and not always with the purpose of providing an accurate historical account) have given other names for the battle site and this has caused confusion amongst modern historians, leading some to believe the battle may have taken place elsewhere, some suggesting Yorkshire and some suggesting Scotland. The contemporary (i.e. written at the same time as the battle took place) records are however quite clear and experts such as Nicholas Higham, Professor of History at the University of Manchester, the late John McNeill Dodgson who wrote the comprehensive series "Place Names of Cheshire", Dr. Paul Cavill, Research Fellow of the English Place Name Society, Dr. Jayne Carroll, Lecturer in English at the University of Leicester and Judith Jesch, Professor of Viking Studies at the University of Nottingham are all in little doubt that the battle took place "around Bromborough". After the battle the armies (or what was left of them) would have returned to their bases, including the English: the West Saxon English to the south, the Mercian English to the Midlands. Some have argued that, despite the Anglo-Saxon propaganda, the English victory was only partial and indeed it was not long after they were defeated.

If the battle took place in Wirral the extent of local involvement from the Scandinavian and neighbouring English and Welsh is also a matter of debate: by 937AD there may have been some degree of integration of the local communities. If they had any sense they would have stayed well clear of the battle. Interestingly, if the later reports are to be believed, the Icelandic Saga called Egil's Saga reports Vikings fighting on both sides - with Scots and with the English, which must have been very confusing.



Another type of evidence we can look to is that of the DNA composition of the current population and see if it is similar to the DNA composition from people in modern Scandinavia.

DNA stands for deoxy-ribo-nucleic acid, a substance which everyone has and which is like a code. We call this code the "genetic code", it makes people what they are - eye colour, hair colour, height, build etc. The code has 2 parts - one comes from the mother and one from the father. There are special tests now which can check this code.

Our DNA is held in chromosomes and we all have 23 pairs in our cells. Every generation the DNA in each of these chromosomes is exchanged, some coming from the mother, some coming from the father; with one exception. Boys and men have a special chromosome called the Y-chromosome (but it doesn't look like a Y!) in which most of the DNA is not exchanged - in fact it comes only from the father (and his father, and his father and so on). The DNA on a boy's or man's Y-chromosome will be very much the same as the DNA on the Y-chromosome of his ancestor back in Viking times, so by testing his Y-chromosome DNA and looking for matches elsewhere in Europe - and the World, we might be able to get an idea where his ancestor came from. Unfortunately most men have matches for their Y-chromosomes in many places, although they may occur much more frequently in some parts of Europe or the world compared to others. Rather than giving a definitive answer, the test can give us an ideas where the ancestor was most likely to have come from.

People from Norway have Y-chromosome types quite different from those from the Celtic countries such as Wales, Scotland and Ireland and there are noticeable differences between those from Germany and Denmark which are quite similar to each other.

The English people are thought to largely derive from the Anglo-Saxons who came from north Germany, neighbouring Denmark and Norway together with those Celts who decided to stay after the invaders came in, and also some Normans (who themselves were Scandinavian by descent)

By checking the Y-chromosome DNA patterns from the people who currently live in Wirral we can see how similar it is to the German and Danish, Celtic or Norwegian DNA.

The test involves a mouth swab. A stick with a ball of cotton at the end is placed in the volunteers mouth and the inside of the cheek is rubbed. This captures some of the DNA from the volunteer. The swab then goes in to a tube and some special preservative liquid is used (rather like washing up liquid!) The swabs are then taken back to the laboratory for analysis.

For reasons of consent, only volunteers over the age of 18 age can participate unless a parent or guardian signs a consent form.

There is a difficulty though in that Merseyside saw a large influx of people from outside the area since the 1850's and the construction of the docks and then the first Mersey tunnel in the 1920's. These people came from Ireland, the Midlands and more recently from overseas.

To see if people still carry Viking DNA from the time of the settlements - 1000 to 1100 years ago, it is important that only those people who can say their families go back a long time in Wirral can take part. Fortunately, besides passing on his Y-chromosome DNA to his son, a man usually also passes onto his son his surname and way back in 1542, the English King Henry VIII took a complete record of all families in Wirral paying taxes. Scientists therefore had a way of selecting suitable volunteers - the man or boy had to come from an old Wirral family with a surname similar to those on the list of Henry VIII. And this is what they did. To avoid biasing the data if men were closely related (cousin or closer) only one could take part in the survey.

It is important to stress that if a boy's or a man's Y-chromosome DNA occurs most frequently in Scandinavia this doesn't necessarily prove his Y-chromosome DNA came from Scandinavia - it may have come from other places but with lower probabilities. Similarly if a man's Y-chromosome DNA occurs more frequently somewhere else this doesn't prove his Y-chromosome DNA did not come from Scandinavia. However if lots of boys or men from old Wirral families have top matches in Scandinavia then this would suggest the Viking settlements were significant.

There are also statistical tests we can employ to see how men from old Wirral families are genetically similar to other areas in the British Isles and elsewhere in Europe. For these test duplicate surnames are avoided, again to avoid biasing the data.

Results from the survey can be found on the website http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/~sczsteve/survey.htm

Christian Vikings

Christian Vikings

It is possible the Vikings were, to some extent, already Christian by the time they settled in Wirral. We know this from place names like West Kirby and Kirkby (the old name of Wallasey Village) from the Old Norse for church ( kirk or kirkja) There are also several ancient road and field names bearing this name.

The Viking church in West Kirby is St Bridget's (the patron saint of Ireland) and the present building is on the site of the old Viking building.

Inside the church you will find, near the altar, the beautifully restored hogback tombstone of a once prominent Wirral Norse resident. Christian crosses from the Viking period can also be found in the Charles Dawson Brown museum at the side of the church, by St Bridget's School and at Bromborough (Church of St. Barnabas).

In the Parish church in Neston there are some carvings that are also Norwegian (that appear to tell events from the life of a Viking man and his wife).

Another St Bridget's church from the Viking period used to be at Chester. Although this Church is no longer there, another Viking church remains which is also home to St Olave's church. St Olave was King Olav Haraldsson of Norway who died in battle in 1030 A.D. He is buried at the Nidaros cathedral in Norway and ever since Viking times pilgrims have flocked to the cathedral.

A special festival is held every year, known as St Olav's (St.Olave's) Festival or Olsok and starts on July 29th (St Olav's day) and runs through in to August. After a gap of about 1000 years Wirral and Chester have now restored their own Olsok celebrations with events in both Wirral and Chester. Watch videos taken at Olsok; 2001 and 2002.

Farming and Fishing

Farming and Fishing

The Wirral Norsemen were generally a peaceable bunch, despite the attacks on Chester which occurred several years after the settlement. They were mainly farmers and fishermen.

Place names such as Gayton (from Old Norse geit meaning goat and tun meaning farmstead) and Storeton (from storr meaning great and tun) show this activity as well as the name Arrowe. Lets consider this name in more detail.

Besides Arrowe Park there are a number of fields in the area with the name such as Bithel's Arrowe and Wharton's Arrowe. Arrowe does not come from bow and arrow but comes from the Old Norse erg or �rgi which means pastureland away from the main farmhouse.

The Scandinavian farmers and their Wirral decendents used to practice what was called Transhumance - sending their cattle out to the aergi in summer and spring, saving the field or fields near the farmhouse for winter food or fodder for their animals. This practice continued until the 19th century in Wirral and is still followed in Norway today

Another St Bridget's church from the Viking period used to be at Chester. Although this Church is no longer there, another Viking church remains which is also home to St Olave's church. St Olave was King Olav Haraldsson of Norway who died in battle in 1030 A.D. He is buried at the Nidaros cathedral in Norway and ever since Viking times pilgrims have flocked to the cathedral.

Fishing was another major source of feeding the Wirral population, The Dee, Mersey and Irish Sea would have been fished and there are old fishing 'skerries' around the Wirral coastline.

Spare Time

Spare Time

Although the Vikings had to work very hard in the marshy farmland, there would have been some time for pastimes. Although Tranmere is a Viking place-name, it was some 1000 years before the football team was formed so some other form of entertainment had to be found.

The Vikings would have hunted (then considered more acceptable) and there is a hunting scene on the stone cross at Neston.

They would also have raced horses and there are at least two field names in Wirral which derive from this activity - a Heskeths in Irby (from the old Norse hesta skeið = horse race track) and another Heskeths in Thornton Hough.

The Scandinavian farmers and their Wirral decendents used to practice what was called Transhumance - sending their cattle out to the aergi in summer and spring, saving the field or fields near the farmhouse for winter food or fodder for their animals. This practice continued until the 19th century in Wirral and is still followed in Norway today

Another St Bridget's church from the Viking period used to be at Chester. Although this Church is no longer there, another Viking church remains which is also home to St Olave's church. St Olave was King Olav Haraldsson of Norway who died in battle in 1030 A.D. He is buried at the Nidaros cathedral in Norway and ever since Viking times pilgrims have flocked to the cathedral.

Another form of entertainment was rock climbing. The Vikings would climb projecting rocks known as klints (klintir) such as at the Wallasey Breck (brekka = slop on a hillside). The most famous on Wirral is Thor's stone at Thurstaston which is a huge projecting rock of sandstone.

The most powerful of the Viking gods was Thor and according to Wirral folklore Thors stone is the head of Thors huge hammer. It is impossible to say if this legend goes back to Viking times. Some say the rock has been formed by the excavation of sandstone for houses in the area, although this is not proven. The rock could well have been there in Viking times. Would the Norsemen have seen the rock on their arrival and started the legend? It is impossible to know, but it is not imaginable.

Certainly by the time of the Victorians, peoples imaginations were running wild. A famous Merseyside antiquarian Sir James Picton (who gave his name to the Picton Library in Liverpool) said "this record of Danish heathendom..the gigantic rock alter..was used by the Vikings for sacrifices".

We have already noted that the Vikings were probably at least partially Christianised on their arrival so this is unlikely. Picton also made another mistake calling it a record of Danish heathendom. He was not the only one to make this mistake and in fact many Wirral writers still talk about Danes. There were some Danes in Wirral, the place name Denhall near Burton suggests this but the majority of the Vikings were probably Norsemen - Norwegians.

King Canute

King Canute's Chair

There is a famous legend that after King Canute (Knut) became king of Denmark and England he thought he was so powerful that he could sit on a chair in front of the sea and command the tide back.

In this video, Professor Stephen Harding travels to Moreton Shore to tell King Canute's story.

The legend of it happening in Wirral goes back at least as far as the Victorian period because they reconstructed the chair which Canute allegedly sat on. On the back of the chair is inscribed "Sea come not hither nor wet the sole of my foot".

How far back the legend (and not necessarily the event itself) goes is impossible to tell but it is not unimaginable it went back to the Vikings for two reasons:

  • One is that the mainly Norwegian Viking population would have given their fellow Scandinavian Canute a very sympathetic welcome even though he was a Dane.
  • Two is that the locals would have been fed up with the frequent flooding of the area which happened with annoying regularity up to the construction of the 20th century sea defences, so any offer of help in keeping the sea back would have been greatfully accepted. However, the real event is considered to be Canute showing to his arrogant courtiers that he was really just a human like everybody else by failing to get the sea to go back.

Sadly the Victorian chair itself was broken by vandals and used as firewood in 1950. Rumours abound that there are plans to construct a new one.