in a New Millennium
by Michael Anyan (in progress)
Just one more new millennium! Springthorpe
people have probably seen tens of them, probably as many as 120.
We do know that the parish has been occupied for at least 6,000 years as
Neolithic axe and arrow heads have been found here. About that time,
but obviously over a period of several centuries, occupiers of Springthorpe
changed from being hunter-gatherers to food producers. Cattle and
pigs were native, but sheep and goats were not, but were probably introduced
before 6,000 B.C. Production of food for own consumption and for
sale to outside agencies would have sustained the majority of Springthorpites
for some 6 millennia until about 1950.
Springthorpites have seen many invasions and will
have suffered greatly in turbulent times as we are positioned near the
important invasion routes along the rivers Humber and Trent. The
Belgics came in about 150 B.C. and the Romans in A.D. 43. By A.D.
47 the Romans had settled the area to the Humber. Lincoln was an
important Roman camp and became a Colonia, which was a settlement
for retired soldiers. There are many remains from the Roman period
in Springthorpe’s fields. Retired soldiers and Roman civil servants
would almost certainly have intermarried with the natives, and food produced
here would be required to feed the soldiers and citizen of Lincoln.
We witnessed the invasions of the Picts, Scots and
Saxons in the 4th century A.D. which led to the withdrawal of the Romans.
Not much is known about this period but a glass bead of the pagan Saxon
era has been found in this Parish.
The next invasion was, perhaps, the most devastating
we had to endure: the Great Danish Viking Army sailed up the River Trent
in A.D. 865 and over the following four years conquered East Anglia and
Northumbria. Property was looted, crops destroyed and farms burnt.
The Great Army wintered at Torksey in 872-73 and would, without doubt,
have required Springthorpe-grown wheat and barley and livestock to sustain
The second great Danish invasion would see the naming
of Springthorpe. (I wonder what the collection of mean huts and farms was
called before A.D. 1000?) This invasion would involve us much more
than the one in 865-69, as King Sweyn Forkbeard of Denmark sailed up the
Trent in A.D. 1013 and made Gainsborough his main base.
Here he was accepted as King of Northumbria and Eastern England.
Ethelred the Unready, King of England, was not pleased by this and fled
to Normandy. Sweyn died at Gainsborough on February 2nd or 3rd, 1014
and the Danish Army at Gainsborough accepted his son, Canute, as their
leader. Ethelred returned from Normandy with a large army and devastated
Springthorpe and Lindsey during the subsequent war against Canute.
Canute eventually won and became King of England in 1016.
Springthorpe, along with 41 other villages
stretching from Scunthorpe to Waddingham to Gainsborough, made an enormous
estate called the Soke [or Manor] of Kirton. The estate was owned
by the Earls of Mercia and possibly passed to Earl Leofric when he married
Lady Godiva in 1023. They had three children, Edwin Earl of Mercia
who inherited the estate, Morcar Earl of Northumbria, and Edith who married
Harold Godwinson who became King of England.
The next, and last, invasion of these islands
would probably have affected the owners of Springthorpe more than the villagers.
When William the Conqueror landed in Sussex, King Harold was helping his
brothers-in-law, Edwin and Morcar, to defeat Tostig and Harold Hardrada,
King of Norway, at Stamford Bridge near York. After this great victory,
Edwin and Morcar refused to go with Harold to fight William at Hastings.
Morcar joined Hereward the Wake at Ely, and Edwin was killed by his own
followers in 1071. William confiscated Springthorpe and the rest
of the Soke of Kirton and for the next 700 years the area was owned by
the Duchy of Cornwall, one of the owners being the famous Black Prince