Caistor Diary 410 AD to 1066AD

410AD  All Romans had been recalled to Rome and Emperor Honorious told the people of Britain they were no longer connected to Rome and should defend themselves.

Early 400 Castrum built by Saxon general Hengist on land given by Vortigern. As much land as could be encompassed by an ox hide (cut into narrow strips, thongs).

Built castle called Thrang or Thong Castor. Was this the “Church Tower” as studied by Dr. Shapland?


C5th “a bowl from Caistor in the Lincoln Museum may possibly be dated in the 5th century; it has circular escutcheons bearing ring-and-dot patterns, animal headed hooks, and rather Roman-looking concentric rings of finely engraved lines on the underneath side of its base.” Archaeological Journal Vol. VI, 1932, page 166-67


453  Marriage of Vortigern and Rowena, daughter of Hengist, said to have been celebrated at Caistor.\

447-613. Angles (Anglo-Saxons) from Germany invaded.

During this period Anglo-Saxons occupied much of eastern and southern England.

Most of the inhabitants of the Roman town of Lincoln deserted the town and it started to fall into disrepair.

The Anglo-Saxons covered the whole of England with their villages, much more thickly in some parts than others. In Leicestershire and Lincolnshire, the villages were often less than a couple of miles apart, and the Scandinavian settlement later added to the “congestion”. P. 31

500AD  The Saxons had pushed the Britons further and further to the west until checked by the Battle of Mons Badonicus lead by the British warlord Ambrosius Aurelianus.

Bronze Swivelperhaps from a bowl or bucket with one arm pierced for suspension. It is from the Anglo Saxon Cemetery excavated in 1855. It is at present on loan to the Caistor Arts and Heritage Centre. Caistor heritage Trust.

Cemetery at Nettleton within 500m of Caistor walls.

518AD Lincoln, besieged by the Saxons under Cerdic and Colgern, relieved, and the invaders defeated by Arthur, king of the Britons.

7th Century Lindsey alternately under the rule of Northumbria and Mercia but mainly isolated from the conflicts which took place further west.

Caistor “would be certain to attract early Christian missions, and some writers assert that the Roman monk St. Paulinus, in the course of his conversion of the Northumbrians, built the first church at Caistor in the early 7th century…. [and] made it the religious centre of the area… Caistor: An Historic Introduction, Ian Beckwith, Bishop Grossetesste College, Lincoln

”C.600 “In the 7th century ‘Ravenna Cosmorgraphy’ among other East Midland names, there appears the Latin name ‘banovallum’, probably meaning ‘strong hill’. Sometimes assigned to Horncastle, it is thought by some scholars to refer to Caistor. The modern name Caistor derives from the Old English ‘ceaster’ meaning ‘old fortification, Roman camp or town’ and shows that the first English settlers continued to make use of the Roman site, perhaps even before the final Roman withdrawal in the 5th century. Certainly local legend asserts that the infamous British prince Vortigern married the daughter of the English warchief, Hewngist, at Caistor, and this story receives some support from the presence of Anglian cemeteries just outside the walls of Caistor, one of which produced a bronze bowl decorated in late Roman style, perhaps once belonging to mercenary troops like those of Hengist’s band.” Caistor: An Historic Introduction, Ian Beckwith, Bishop Grossetesste College, Lincoln

630AD At Torksey, inhabitants of Lindsey, baptised in the Trent by Paulinus, Archbishop of York, in the presence of Edwin, the first Christian king of Northumberland

700 AD Water mills appeared in England by the 8th century and spread steadily all over eastern England. One in three villages in Lincolnshire had a water mill recorded in the Domesday Book. All used for grinding corn. P. 58

C780AD The cemetery between the High Street and North Street is no longer used.

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827AD At Caistor, Egbert, king of Wessex, defeated Wiglaff (Wycklaff), King of Mercia. He is said to have also “loss of his baggage, which was dedicated at the holy rood of Caistor Church and converted by the conqueror to pious and charitable purposes.” Kelly’s “In 1770 the base of a stone cross was found at Caistor (possibly Castle Hill) which purported to be the relic of the cross which King Egbert erected after the battle. In this connection it is interesting to note that on the eve of the Norman Conquest, Caistor had formed part of the possessions of the Earl of Northumbria and that, as such, it came into the King’s hands after the Battle of Hastings.” Caistor: An Historic Introduction, Ian Beckwith, Bishop Grossetesste College, Lincoln He [Wiglaff] fled to Croyland, where he was concealed for three months, when the mediation of its Abbot, Siward, he was restored to his kingdom on paying homage and becoming tributary to his conqueror


Caistor’s “political importance may have been due to the survival of its Roman defence works ….. and to its position overlooking the Ancholme with its string of English and Dutch farmsteads dotted along its length. These villages lay within the ‘soke’ of Caistor, that is subjective to the administrative and judicial control of its courts, and their inhabitants would have often had to make their way to attend this court, up the hill and in through the gates of what must to them, have seemed a very impressive town…” Caistor: An Historic Introduction, Ian Beckwith, Bishop Grossetesste College, Lincoln

860  Caistor Parish Magazine February 1902

In our Diocesan Magazine for December 1901, page 185, we have this account of “An Episcopal Gardener at Caistor.” “A correspondent writes:- The following extract from the chronicler Geraldus Cambrensis (Rolls Series, ii, 301) is not without interest:

`And how far do they likewise differ from the blessed Maurilius, Bishop of Angers, who, when standing at the altar, about to celebrate divine service, was asked to baptise a boy, and delayed doing so until after Mass, which being ended, when he heard that the boy was already dead, overcome by the extremity of his grief and fear, he deserted his episcopate, and, crossing the sea to England, became the gardener of a poor monastery in a certain place in Lindsey, which is called Castrum (Caistor).

This appears to be the same Maurillius of whom Gerald speaks in another place (i., 137) as follows:- A.D. 860 Numeneus, King of the Britons (? Bretons), attacking the realm of the Franks, being struck on the head with his staff by a certain Saint Maurilius, Bishop of Angers, perished.` One would like to know whether there are in the neighbourhood of Caistor any dim traditions of this episcopal gardener, whose character was such a sweet combination of humility and vigour.

865 The Vikings “Great Heathen Army” invade East Anglia. King Edmund buys peace with a supply of horses.

866-68 The Great Heathen Army moves north and ravages the north of England    Vikings destroy the city of York

868 At Gainsborough, Alfred the Great married to Alswitha, daughter of the Chief of the Ganii.

870 At Humberstone, Danes landed, destroyed Bardney Abbey, slew the monks and devastated the country round.

870 Lacundon (from the event of the battle since call Threekingham), in September, Danes defeated, and three of their kings slain, by the men of Lincolnshire, commanded by Algar, Earl Mercia; but the day following, the Danes, who had been reinforced, were victorious; when Algar and his two Seneschals, Wybert and Leofric, were killed; after which the invaders marched to Croyland, burnt the Abbey and murdered the monks. Algar was buried in Algakirk, thence so named, and the rsidences of his seneschals is recognised in the villages Leofrington and Wiberton.

“…….. life was often completely shattered. Some of the bodies exhumed when the A46 was widened at Swallow some years ago of men 7feet in height.” Dick Hudson, date unknown. needs research to look up the archaeological report and check dates etc of skeletons.

A46 at Swallow Church before the by-pass was built.


873 At Torksey, the Danes wintered, and were there visited by Burhred, King of Mercia, who purchased a short peace.

 876 Vikings make York the capital of the Norse Kingdom of York.

878 Vikings drive Saxon King Alfred into the West country where he re-groups and defeats the Danish King Guthrun at the Battle of Edington.

Late 9thC Invading Danes conquered the area to be known as the Danelaw. Created a network of settlements called burghs, using old Roman towns with their sturdy walls and establishing weekly markets. Caistor was most probably one of these.

886 Treaty of Wedmore establishes the political boundaries between Saxon Wessex, Saxon Mercia and the Danelaw, including Lincolnshire where the Danish customs prevailed.

918 Edward – King of Mercia. Political unity suggested by coinage.

920’s  Lincoln Mint producing coins.

941, Stamford and Lincoln taken by Edmund I from the Mercian Danes called the Fif-burghers from dwelling in the towns of Stamford, Lincoln, Leicester, Derby and Nottingham.

English kingdom divided in 957 between two sons of Edmund. Eadwig retained Wessex and his younger brother Edgar became king of the Mercians and Northumbrians with a separate court but Mercian mints continued to issue coins in Eadwig’s name until his death in 959 when Edgar succeeded as sole king and coins were issued in his name. Within 3-4 years he clearly stated his attitude to the Danish areas of England – they were in most respects to be allowed to govern themselves which merely reiterated what his predecessors had done.   After his coronation in Bath and a ceremony in Chester establishing his rule, the coinage was reformed and a new type of penny introduced and struck in all mints replacing several different types that were current earlier in his reign. The dies were made and distributed from Winchester. The new coins have stilized bust of the king on the obverse surrounded by his name and title, and the reverse consists of a small cross placed centrally and surrounded by the; names of the moneyer and mint.   50 of these have been found in Lincolnshire. Within a few years of Edgar’s death in 975 coins were also being struck at Caistor, Grantham, Hornscastle and Torksey. “Anglo-Saxon Lincolnshire by Peter Sawyer Vol III (Page 125)

959AD   Edgar succeeds as sole king and coins issued in his name.

Normal Small Cross edward the martyr 975 to 978.jpg
Normal Small Cross Edward the Martyr 975 to 978

Within 3-4 years he clearly stated his attitude to the Danish settled areas of England – they were in most respects to be allowed to govern themselves merely reiterating what his predecessors had done.

Quarterfoil Cnut 02 1017 to 1020.jpg
Quarterfoil Cnut 1017 to 1020

Caistor remains within the Danelaw.

960AD  Anglo-Saxons formed parishes setting boundaries around the church within which the inhabitants would pay the new tax (tithe) of 1/10th their annual income.

975AD   After Edgar’s coronation, the coinage was reformed and a new type of penny struck.

Pointed Helmet Cnut 1024 to 1030.jpg
Pointed Helmet Cnut 1024 to 1030

After his death in 975AD coins were being struck at Caistor, Grantham, Horncastle and Torksey.

973-980 Caistor Mint in production.

Edward the Martyr 975 to 978

1,000AD Pattern of wapentakes and hundreds established which survived the Norman invasion. Caistor is included in the Yarborough wapentake, West Lindsey.

11th century Caistor church was built. “Perhaps the earliest sites of Christian worship surviving into this period [death of William the Conqueror] were the chapels and hermitages associated with holy wells, which seem to have been taken over by the first missionaries from some pre-Christian culture……. it is important to remember that well chapels like St. Pancras, on the cliff at Scampton, St. Helen near the seven springs at Hemswell, Shadwell (Chad’s Well) at Barton, and St. Mary’s at Ancaster, probably formed significant portion of the ecclesiastical provision of the late eleventh century. Alongside this early missionary tradition there had grown up an ecclesiastical organization which was to be formalized by Aethelred II or Unready (978–1013 and 1014–1016) and Cnut. It was based upon a series of large churches, or ‘head minsters’, which were often the seat of a bishop, and had each its large dependent area, or diocese. …… Within the head minster’s area there had been set up a series of smaller, but still important, churches, known as ‘old minsters’ or mother churches, which seem to have been founded in existing settlements or to have provided focal points for settlement…..Caistor, Grantham, and Horncastle seem to have had sufficient local importance before the Conquest to be probably of the same type. Each was on the royal demense, and each had its dependent chapels in the vills which were out-lying members of the royal manor.” Church and Society in Medieval Lincolnshire, Dorothy M. Owen, History of Lincolnshire Vol.V p.1

Photograph by Alan Dennis

11th Century The Scandinavian raids and conquests and the subsequent activity of landowners in founding churches on their estates…weakened the minsters and by the mid 11th century there were traces of only a few in Lincolnshire. Grantham and Horncastle were both exceptionally large parishes in the 12th century that presumably originated as parochiae of early minsters.   In 1065 both were royal manors with numerous separate settlements.   Caistor was also a royal manor with dependent chapels in its soke. The names of the two places in Lincolnshire called Kirton suggest that they had important churches at the time of the Scandinavian conquest. Kirton in Lindsey was, moreover, a royal manor with a large soke, and Kirton in Holland gave its name to a wapentake. Extract from:   “Anglo-Saxon Lincolnshire by Peter Sawyer Vol III (Page 63)

1013 At Gainsborough, Sweyn, King of Denmark assassinated

1015  King Canute II of Denmark & Norway invades England. Wars between Danes & Saxons.

1017  King Canute divides England into four earldoms

1017 to 1020 King Cnute

1024 to 1030 King Canute

1035  King Canute dies

1065  Caistor was a royal manor with dependent chapels in its soke.

The earliest evidence for the structure and extent of the Lincolnshire. sokes is provided by the Domesday book.

Some appear relatively new creations, and the composition of the old sokes was certainly the same as it had been 2 centuries earlier, but despite these changes, the pattern of place-names in many sokes is revealing.   Those in the Wolds naturally tend to have a large proportion of Scandinavian names. Caistor….. had land in 16 places, 7 of which had by-names.   …With this degree of Scandinavian influence it is remarkable that in Caistor soke there was not one place-name incorporating a personal name.   ……: Both Caistor and Horncastle were royal sokes and may therefore have been better preserved. “Anglo-Saxon Lincolnshire by Peter Sawyer Vol III (Page 114)