Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Friday, 11 September 2020

Downtime with the Vikings at Torksey

The MailOnline had a report the other day about the impending sale next week at auction of a complete set of ninth century pieces to play the strategy game Hnefatafl, together with a modern board to make play possible. The pieces had been found by a metal detector at the site of the Viking encampment from the winter of 871-2 at Torksey in Lincolnshire, and which lies on the banks of the river Trent. The illustrated article, which explains something of how the game was played, can be seen at Viking board game pieces uncovered with a metal detector go on sale

The overwintering at Torksey was no small event. The Great Army or the Great Heathen Army as the Anglo-Saxons described it had been ravaging eastern England since its landing in 867, and had overwhelmed the southern part of the Northumbrian kingdom in the battle of York in that first year. In 869 they had defeated and killed St Edmund in his East Anglian kingdom and they now moved northwards again to consider their options. Of the Anglo- Saxon kingdoms only Wessex, ruled by the newly acceded and youthful King Alfred remained as a political unit. Torksey became the Vikings headquarters for the ensuing winter. Their encampment is discussed in some detail at Viking Torksey: Inside the Great Army’s winter camp

Eventually in 876 the invaders settled and established a series of territories that later centuries were to term the Danelaw.

Torksey remained an important Trentside trading place and in 1086 was the third largest town in Lincolnshire. Today it is a small village, with a medieval church, the ruins of an Elizabethan manor house and an important Victorian railway bridge. There is an introduction at Torksey, Lincolnshire, History,

As opposed to the three churches of the eleventh century only one survives today. There are descriptions and pictures of St Peter’s at Torksey St Peter and at Torksey
from the Lincolnshire Churches blog. Amongst its surviving medieval features is a sheelanagig which is discussed at Torksey – The Sheela Na Gig Project

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