Danish raids (7 & 8) – Watchet

The seventh and eighth raids, in the tenth century, were both on hapless Watchet. For 988 the Anglo Saxon chronicle entry is brief:

MS C: 988 Her wæs Wecedport geheregod, 7 Goda se Defenisca þegen ofslagen 7 mycel wæl mid him. Her gefor Dunstan arcebisceop, 7 Æþelgar, bisceop feng æfter him to arcestole, 7 he lytle hwile æfter þæm lyfode, butan .i. gear 7 .iii. monþas


‘In this year Watchet was laid waste, and Goda, thegn of Devon was slain and many men with him. In this year Archbishop Dunstan died [on my birthday, as it happens], and Bishop Æthelgar succeeded to the archiepiscopal see, and he lived but a short while after him, just one year and three months.’

However, Ms E reads, a bit annoyingly:

St Dunstan (Feast day 19 May)

St Dunstan (Feast Day, 19 May)

Ms E: 987 Her Wecedport wes gehergod.

988 Her wæs Goda se Dæ<fe>nisca þægn ofslagen 7 mycel wæl mid him. 7 her Dunstan se halga arcebiscop forlet þis lif 7 geferde þet heofonlice, and Æðelgar biscop feng æfter him to arcebiscopstol, 7 he litle hwile æfter þam leofode, butan an gear 7 .iii. monðas.

The meaning is just about the same, except that in Ms E the attack on Watchet was in 987 and the slaying of Goda in 988, giving the impression the two events were not linked, unlike in MS C. However, the MS C reading does seem to make more sense since MS E gives no explanation, no why, no where, no how, for the death of Goda.

MS D follows MS C but I don’t have enough knowledge of the relationship between the different manuscripts to know whether MS D was from a source independent of C.

The final raid was in 997 where MS E records:

MS E: Her on þissum geare ferde se here abutan Defnanscire into Sæfern muðon 7 þær gehergodon ægðer on Cornwealum ge on Norðwalum 7 on Defenan 7 eodon him þa up æt Wecedport 7 þær mycel yfel wrohtan on bærnette 7 on manslihtum …

‘In this year the [Danish] host sailed round Devonshire  to the mouth of the Severn and there they laid waste both in Cornwall and Wales, and in Devon  and they  landed at Watchet and there wrought much destruction, by burning and killing …’

Cornwall (south Wales) and Wales (north Wales) are fairly easily located.  Severn MouthDevon too, except that its eastern border is not clear. But the mouth of the Severn?

This Wikipedia map is interesting: it might suggest that the Danes sailed as far as Steep Holm, which they seem to have used as temporary quarters on previous occasions: a convenient place to land and loiter offshore, looking for opportunities to raid the mainland.

And as far as I can see, these were the recorded raids on the north Somerset coast during the ninth and tenth centuries.


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