Kingdom of Lindsey

Kingdom of Lindsey

Lindsey or Linnuis is the name of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom that lay between the Humber and the Wash, forming its inland boundaries from the course of the Witham and Trent rivers (with the inclusion of an area inside of a marshy region south of the Humber known as the Isle of Axholme), and the Foss Dyke between them. It is believed that Lincoln was the capital of this kingdom, though place-name evidence indicates that the Anglian settlement developed from the Humber coast. Compare Winta and Winteringham.

Its name means the 'island of Lincoln'. This derives from the fact that it was surrounded by water and very wet land and had Lincoln towards its south-west corner. In the period of Anglian settlement in Britain beginning in about 450, the Kingdom of Lindsey was one of the petty Anglo-Saxon kingdoms which formed the English Heptarchy. Although it has its own list of kings, at an early date it came under external influence. It was from time to time effectively part of Deira, the Northumbrian kingdom and particularly later, of Mercia. Lindsey's independence was gone well before the arrival of the Danish Settlers.

The kingdom's heyday seems to have come before the historical period. By the time of the first historical records of Lindsey, it had become a subjugated polity, under the alternating control of Northumbria and Mercia. It is possible that the setback arose in the years around 500, from the opposition of the British leader known as Arthur, the second, third and fourth of whose twelve battles were fought in 'Linnuis' and whose twelfth victory held back Anglo-Saxon expansion for fifty years. See the Historia Britonum. However it may be, all trace of its individuality vanished before the Viking assault in the late ninth century. Its territories evolved into the historical English county of Lincolnshire, the northern part of which is called Lindsey.

Kings of Lindsey

A collection of genealogies, created in the last years of king Offa's reign, gives the names of the ruling lineage of Lindsey. The early names will relate either to life in Angeln or to a boastful genealogy arising from gods such as Woden.

*Geot - Compare the "Geats" who are frequently mentioned in Beowulf's story.
*Woden - Compare Woden, the god. From Winta on, the names will refer to the early leaders in Lindsey.
*Winta - Compare Winteringham (the homestead of Winta's people).

Only the last individual (Aldfrið or Ealdfrith) can be securely dated: Frank Stenton refers to an Anglo-Saxon charter (BCS 262) which mentions Ealdfrith, and dates its writing to some time between the years 787 and 796. If Winta arrived in Lindsey in 487, these leaders will have been in charge for an average of thirty years each. While this is not impossible, it seems rather a long time unless life was relatively peaceful.

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