A personal rendering

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PRE 1066


A Bronze Celt



Here is my attempt to throw light on the early history of Harvington. It is a mix of the scant archaeological material that we have from the parish and information gleamed from the few pre Norman Conquest documents that survived Viking raids, the Norman invasion, the dissolution of the monasteries and fires.

  1. Occasional prehistoric finds around the village.
  2. The Romano-British site under Blakenhurst.
  3. The origin of Harvington's name.
  4. The first Anglo-Saxon charter to mention Harvington dated to AD 709.
  5. Harvington being once part of an ancient land division of the sub-kingdom of Hwicce.
  6. The transference of Harvington to the Church at Worcester in AD 799.
  7. Harvington's other manor called Wiburgestoke.
  8. Harvington's first recorded tenant, a lady called Eanswith.
The parish extends from the once wooded slopes of the Lenches to the north, to the river Avon and the mill to the south. On the east is the Smalemeresuche15, a natural ditch and brook utilised as a parish and county boundary, while to the west is another natural feature, a brook called 'Harvington' and the 'Norbrook'. With the parish's nicely defined boundaries, it gives the appearance of being a stable and long standing unit. The area on which Harvington stands is made up of light soil with a heavy mix of pebbles, easy access to water and wood with the habitable part well above the flood plain. This makes a most attractive area for mankind to settle, somebody or some people chose well.

The age of the roads that cross the parish need to be taken into account when dealing with studies like this. Did the settlement or settlements come into existence because of the roads or vice versa? Running west-east through the centre of the parish is the ancient saltway, leading down Anchor Lane and across the river. It is believed to have originated in pre-Roman times. The other main road is the south-north Evesham to Alcester road.

Name of Harvington
Place names and their origins is a fascinating study and can reveal an origin that is not obvious from its modern spelling. Place-name study, is highly complicated and one can easily draw the wrong conclusion. I am not an etymologist so my thoughts as to the origins of 'Harvington' should be read with caution, so here goes.

Mostly taken from Bailey's, History of Harvington with additions, here are the following early spellings of Harvington, taken from Mawer's Place-Names of Worcestershire9:-

  1. Herverton, AD 709
  2. Herefordinne, AD 709
  3. Hereford, AD 799
  4. Hereford, AD 814
  5. Herefordtun, AD 964
  6. Herferthun, AD 1086
  7. Herwerton, AD 1227
  8. Hervorditun, AD 1240
  9. Herfertun, AD 1240
  10. Herfortun, AD 1249
  11. Hervington, AD 1508
  12. Herforton, AD 1542
One can see here a progression from Hereford to Harvington. Harvington is a modern spelling and not to be confused with the other Harvington which simply means Herwine's settlement. The original stem appears to be 'Here' with the addition, (in most cases) of 'ford'. Ford is self explanatory i.e. a ford across a river, in this case the Avon9. Now 'here' as in Hereford, can be interpreted in two ways: a place where a body of armed men could ford a river; or translated from the Welsh as Henffordd, meaning an old road fording a river. On the face of it the latter is more suitable to our situation - an ancient river crossing via a ford. If the British name has survived, albeit morphed into English, then it might have originally only referred to the area down at the ford over the Avon. The nearby village or church may have assumed the anglicised version at a later date.

Until recently there appears to have been very little archaeological research carried out in the parish. Many years ago, on the Harvington and Salford Priors boundary, there was found "a fine bronze CELT (a prehistoric cutting or cleaving knife). It was 4½ inches (11.43cm) in length, ringed and socketed", and was dated to around 2000 BC. Its present whereabouts is unknown. (Ref:
Bailey's History of Harvington.)

There is a local rumour that when the Blakenhurst Estate was built in 1964, a 'small Roman Fort' was discovered. The County archaeological Service in Worcester has no record of this find in their Sites and Monuments Record, so it cannot at present be verified. Roman pottery is very distinctive but a fort would suggest something more substantial. Before development the land was mostly taken up with lengthy gardens stretching from the houses on Leys road to the brook. From local knowledge there was nothing unusual about the land, There was a rise from Leys road, a flatish area and then a descent to the brook. Perhaps something was spotted when the builders cleared the topsoil. At first glance this seems an unlikely place for a Roman fort, however if the saltway is taken into account, then early on there may have been a need for a fort as one approached the forest on the Lenches and beyond.

In a recent survey carried out prior to development on two areas adjacent to the Blakenhurst Estate, the County Archaeological Service found parts of a Romano-British settlement. The first area was on the south west of side of Leys Road, later to become Grove Close, while the larger area was under the Community Orchard and Flood Relief Area. The finds were multi-phase ditches and a small amount of low status pottery and also several pieces of tegula, which are red roofing tiles, usually associated the stone buildings of substance. My own investigation in the field adjacent to and to the west of the Community Orchard, suggests that I was on the periphery of a settlement or farmstead. It is clear from their plans that the site extends under the present boundary into Blakenhurst. The only datable material suggested the latter half of the 1st century AD. On the northern side of Blakenhurst is a fairly deep spring course separating Blakenhurst and the Romano British site from the rising land to the north, thereby giving both water and drainage to the site. For the report of the Archaeological investigation on the Community Orchard, please use this report link, it takes a while to load.

Another story that may be of relevance was the discovery of a stetch of stone walling found during the digging of a pond by the then owner in the late 1960's. The find was in the side garden of number fourteen Brookdale.

The CAS have also recorded other human activity in Harvington, such as prehistoric crop marks in the area beyond Harvington Lodge, plus a suggestive field name of 'Barrow Piece' near to the Glebe Farm ruins. The name barrow usually means there is, or in this case was, a distinctive mound or feature in the area. See CAS report for details. (Being a PDF, it takes a while to load.) Harvington Lodge stands on a slight hill and commands good views of the surrounding countryside, a favourable position for pre-Roman activity.

The Almonry Museum in Evesham has a record of Samian Ware sherds, high class Roman pottery, being found in the corner of 'Mr. Coleys field' in 1938. The Coley's owned a number of plots in the village, mostly up Village Street towards the Golden Cross.

Limited spot checking in the old and new churchyard has failed to find any Romano-British pottery. By the ruined mill, a previous notice board commemorating the restoration of the lock, stated that a Roman furnace had been discovered nearby. The mill is mentioned in the Doomsday Book.

It is thought that the original site of Harvington was down by the river. There are at least two reasons for believing this: one is the name which was original Hereford, with the emphasis on the ford; the other is a raised area near to Mill House where an ariel photograph taken in 1953 shews crop marks indicating, among other marks a circular settlement, however the area is subject to flooding and the cropmark may well be prehistoric.

From the Almonry

There is a tendency to find British settlements on the higher ground, with the English preferring more low-lying areas. This may represent the situation in Harvington. The original focus of settlement in Harvington, not including the area around the ford, was probably in the vicinity of Harvington Lodge sitting as it does on a low-lying hill offering clears views of the surrounding countryside. Crop marks, a barrow and the Romano-British settlement are within this area. By AD 800, the focus of settlement is probably around the site of the church. Does this hold a memory of British and English co-existing or had the British settlement ceased to exist? Perhaps not. Deerhurst near Tewkesbury is an example of co-existence. A very ancient if not British Christian foundation, by the river Severn and on a hill within one mile is the hamlet of Deerhurst Walton, Walton meaning 'Welsh'.

In the surrounding area, a Bronze Age axe was found beyond the allotments. Roman material has been found on the other side of the bypass towards Norton (CAS WSM38436). This is indicated towards the end of an archaeological development report. There is a Roman site on a hill above Offenham, where a collection of bronze spoons was found a few years back and reported to the museum at Worcester. And of course there is the crossing of Icknield Street at Bidford with Roman material being discovered in a nearby field.

Historical Background
For archaeologists and historians there has tended to be a sharp divide between the Roman period and that of the Anglo-Saxon, separated by a black hole. This is due partly because of the disruption and chaos that obviously took place during this period, and partly because of our lack of knowledge of this dark but by no means black period. This is slowly changing as our knowledge grows both in archaeology and our knowledge of placenames. Clearly many Romano-British settlements and towns ceased to exist but many carried on, slowly changing over the centuries and acquiring Anglicised or English names.

After the centralised Roman authority ceased in AD 410, Roman Britain continued with Governors (or dictators) such as Vortigern, but eventually fractured into many different kingdoms fighting for supremacy over both their British neighbours and the newly arrived English. During the fifth and sixth centuries many of the British kingdoms were either absorbed or replaced by English kingdoms - sometimes dramatically, sometimes by a gradual tipping of the balance from British to English. At the same time the English were also warring against each other and vying for supremacy. A dog eat dog scramble for land and power where many and eventually most of the early tribal groupings, war bands or small kingdoms became subordinate and then absorbed into larger groupings before finally disappearing, often leaving just a name.

All this would have led to death or displacement for the ruling classes and huge disturbances and suffering for the 'ordinary folk', some of whom would have profited from the chaos, while others tried to keep a low profile and carry on everyday life, whether British or English. There have been major swings in historian and archaeologist way of thinking between the English sweeping the poor defenceless British into the sea to hardly any English arriving here at all, just a few war bands, the true picture has to lie in between. The British ruling class may have succumbed to a lesser or greater extent, but the ordinary folk probably continued to live their lives, albeit gradually being absorbed and learning to speak English. Many British geographical place names survive but it is to be noted that there are virtually no British (Welsh) words in English. A telling and rather chilling detail is that while the British called themselves Cymbri, the English referred to the British as Welsh, meaning foreigner or slave.

Post Roman Harvington
In pre-Roman times it has been assumed that this area was under the control of the
Dobunni, a British tribe with their capital at Cirencester. No local land divisions such as hundreds or counties are known from before or during the Roman period. One can only wonder whether tribes like the Dobunni kept any of their smaller land divisions after the Roman conquest1. It is however now becoming apparent that some Romano-British land divisions, such as estates survived into the 'English' period. Was there a property division in Harvington and did its Romano-British population that is now known to have at one time existed, survive to fuse with the incoming English? We do not know whether the surrounding British control centres at Alcester, Gloucester, Winchcombe or Worcester had any impact or governance over the Harvington area after AD 410. Harvington being in the the Kingdom of Hwicce is very likely and this will be discussed later. The British in the region may have enjoyed over 150 years of relative peace before the English arrived in force, by the mid to late 6th century however the area was to change politically in a dramatic way.

In AD 577 Ceawlin king of Wessex, defeated three British kings, Conmail of Gloucester, Condidan of Cirencester and Farinmail of Bath, at the battle of Deorham.13 We have no idea how far north Conmail held sway, it might have been Gloucester and a small surrounding area or it could have been the predecessor of Hwicce, with other unnamed British kingdoms to the north. If the British had reverted back to their original Dobunni boundaries, which are remarkably similar to the later kingdom of Hwicce, then after this battle it is possible that Harvington had new English overlords.

The Hwicce
It is not known how or when the territory of the Hwicce was formed or what preceeded it. There are suggestions17 that it was originally a Britsh Christain Kingdom as by the time of Bede in the 7th century it appears that it was nominally Christian. There are also indications16 that its epicentre was in the Winchcombe area in Gloucestershire, an old wealthy and settled Romano-British area.

Its extant can be judged by placenames and later documentation16, although its boundary would no doubt have fluctuated as it came up against neighbouring states. At one time under Mercian control it controlled a large area from Kempsford in Gloucestershire to Bridgnorth in Worcestershire, Bath in Somerset to Whichford in Warwickshire.

After AD 577, it is likely that there was an influx of Saxon peoples moving up from the south, both as administrators and settlers. Fifty years later in AD 628, Cyngils and Cwichelm his son, King of Wessex, fought Penda of Mercia at Cirencester. They came to an agreement and it appears that Penda took over the province known or soon to be known as Hwicce, an English name. At this time, Penda was a war lord, later becoming king of Mercia, an area centred on Litchfield and Tamworth. There is a surviving fieldname indicating a boundary between Hwicce and Mercia proper in Radway parish near Edge Hill. It may well have been Penda who was responsible for setting up Hwicce as a sub-kingdom13. It seems that from very early on Hwicce included the territory of the Husmerae, based on the river Stour, the Stoppingas, based around Wootton Wawen and the river Alne, and the Weorgoran, based at Worcester3. Penda died on 15th November 655, and very soon afterwards, Hwicce's first recorded kings, the brothers Eanhere and Eanfrith (Harvington's first recorded person is Eanswith in AD 802), were ruling the kingdom. The ruling family curiously held Northumbrian names. The populace though would have been a mixture of English and British. As a kingdon then province then county or region of Mercia it remained an entity until the early 11th century.

Christianity is believed to have survived within the Kingdom of Hwicce from Roman times, thereby suggesting a degree of continuity. There are signs of the British church at
Gloucester and Deerhurst. The Venerable Bede in his book 'The Ecclesiatical History of the English People' in AD 731, fails to mention any conversion of the Hwicce. He does state however that Eafe, daughter of Eanfirth, was baptised in her own country (Hwicce) and Eanhere's son Osric was interred at Worcester. At this time the Church as a structure was growing fast. The Diocese of Worcester was established in AD 679/80, whose early bishops bore the title Epicopus Hwicciorum. The original boundaries of the diocese would no doubt have corresponded with that of the then Hwiccean kingdom, covering as it does most of Worcestershire, Warwickshire and Gloucestershire. This suggests that its administrative capital was by that time at Worcester.

Evesham Abbey was founded in or just before AD 709, by Egwin, Bishop of Worcester. Egwin founded Evesham because of the story about Eof, the swineherd or shepherd who saw a vision of the Virgin Mary. The impression behind this story is that the area was Christian, which would imply places of worship were nearby. Harvington's church is first mentioned in AD 814, of which more later.

The coming of the English
There have been huge advances in the study of place names and what they tell us. As the English moved westwards across the country passing of time allowed the English to make ever more contact with the British, so naming patterns change and surviving British names from east to west become more frequent. The suggestion is that the English arrived in this area as a political force relatively late in the 6th century9 either as wandering settlers or by dramatic and sudden raids on or conquests of established British kingdoms. In 1996 a Pagan English burial ground was discovered on Bennetts Hill, Offenham, it was thought date from the 6th or 7th centuries. It must be born in mind that it was not simply English against British. Both peoples were just as likely to raid and take over neighbouring states of their own kind with help from the other side.

Movements to the north of us and place names are a great help here in giving faint signs of a patchwork of once existing folk, such as the Pencersætan, south west of Birmingham; the Husmeræ based on the river Stour; the Stoppingas, around Wootton Wawen and the river Alne; the Feþþingas14, a Middle Anglian folk north east of Worcester; the Wixna, a Middle Anglian people. Collingwood and Myres in their book 'Roman Britain and the English Settlements'2, suggest that a group of the Wixna settled to the north of here:-

Midway between Worcester and Stratford is a small stream, still known as the Whitson Brook, that recalls a settlement here of the Wixna, one of those mysterious folk of the Tribal Hidage (discussed below), who soon lost their identity in the formation of larger political units. In the Tribal Hidage the Wixna appear already divided into an eastern and a western group, and while their position suggests that their original homes were in close proximity to the Gyrwe and Spalda of the north-western Fens, it by no means impossible that one branch had migrated at an early date up the Welland and so across the easy watershed and down the valley of the Warwickshire Avon. It may be that this division is itself recognised in the distinction of the East and West Wixna; their appearance in Worcestershire is in any case an excellent illustration of the Anglian element already evidenced in the archaeology of the Avon Valley.

These, except perhaps the last mentioned, were probably family groups setting out either as war bands or simply as settlers. Archaeological research in recent years has shown that pagan Anglo-Saxons penetrated this area during this time. They were likely to have been a mixture of mostly Middle-Angle and Middle-Saxon war bands and settlers. Across the river between Offenham and South Littleton, was discovered a pagan Anglo-Saxon Cemetery. It was excavated in the 1990's and dated to the 6th and 7th centuries. Some of these groups based upon old Roman centres such as the Arosæte at Alcester and the Weorgoran, based at Worcester. may have been British, clinging on by paying tribute to the advancing English.

The Tribal Hidage
This is probably the oldest surviving document to give a slight hint of the local situation. It is an early English tax document called the
Tribal Hidage. A possibility is that it was created for one of the 7th century kings, possibly a Northumbrian, while they were in control of Mercia. The document established the value of the various client kingdoms within Mercia's realm of influence. Mercia, means in English Mierce or Myrce meaning "border people". The Mercians were centred on Tamworth and during the 7th century, under their pagan king Penda, they expanded dramatically over the Midlands, including this area.

The document is a good indicator that the English already had an advanced system for raising tax or tribute. This implies land ownership, boundaries, knowing who owned what and where. There are three names on the Tribal Hidage that are relevant to us: the Hwicce; the Arosæte, who were probably based at the Roman town of Alcester (Latin: Alauna), and only known from the Tribal Hidage; and the Wixna, again only really known from the Tribal Hidage.

Counties of Mercia
The name Mercia stems from 'Mierce', an old English word meaning borderlands and referred to a loose confederacy of Anglican tribes17. Some of these stroke tribal area, stroke kingdoms were large such as The Hwicca or the Wreocenaetan (around The Wreken), and some were much smaller such the Middle Angles around Peterboroiugh.

County or shire: (In the case of Mercia, 'province' is perhaps a better term), refers to an area separated from the central authority and administered by an Ealdorman. |These Ealdormen were probably originally kings or sub-kings as in the case of Hwicce, sub-king. The Ealdorman was responsible for governing, raising taxes and, when necessary, the fyrd (army raised for a military campaign). Unfortunately for Mercia the Vikings, especially in AD 877, when they settled at Gloucester for the winter, to a large extent destroyed its administrative organisation. Harvington would have felt their presence. Mercia was also reorganised, in the early 11th century, so we know very little of its provincial system. It probably adhered to the old sub-kingdoms that it had absorbed, such as Hwicce, Magonsaete or Pencersaete etc. For later Mercia we can get some idea though through the distribution of its Bishoprics. There are five: Lichfield, Lindsay, Leicester, Worcester and Hereford. It may be coincidental that the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle states under AD 827: 'Ludecan', king of the Mercian's, was slain along with his five ealdormen7.

Edric Streona
Now steps on to the stage '
Edric Streona', a powerful and disruptive figure of the late 10th and early 11th century. He was Ealdorman of Mercia until his execution in 1017. It is very likely that it was he who was responsible for creating the present county system of the Midlands. The old sub-divisions or provinces, (although not the hundreds) were swept away and the present system created, such as Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Staffordshire, Leicestershire etc. Note the regularity of their size. Their boundaries remained almost unchanged until 1974. It has been suggested that the extremely ragged nature of the boundaries between Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and Warwickshire are the result of Edric Streona's personal property in this area, if true then corruption was one of his lesser evils.

Harvington's county
Harvington and its parish, has been tucked into the south-east corner of Worcestershire and Warwickshire since the county came into existence between AD 1000 and AD 1016. Before this time Harvington was under the jurisdiction of the Hwicce at Worcester.

The Parish and county boundary near to the Salford Road and looking north.

Hundreds are an ancient Germanic land division, smaller than a county, which is thought to have originally evolved to cover one hundred families with a smaller division called Tithing, an area covering ten families. They also had a military aspect in raising men for a campaign10.

The hundred used a central place to meet such as a distinctive or prominent landmark, hill or mound, where the elders of the hundred would meet. The hundred often carried the same name as the meeting place. It will be noticed that many hundreds have a suffix of 'low' at the end of their name. Another meaning of 'low' is a tumulus or barrow. Most hundreds in this area predate the counties in which they are now set.

Harvington's hundred
From the 10th century to the present day, whether under the jurisdiction of Hwicce or Worcestershire, Harvington has been in the hundred of Oswaldslow, named after Oswald, Bishop of Worcester who died in AD 992. The hundred was set up in a charter by King Edgar and bishop Oswald at a Christmas meeting in AD 96410. The name Oswaldslow, called Oslafeslow before AD 977, is identified with Low Hill in White Ladies, Aston9. It was not a solid unit of land but a patchwork of Church property and was itself an amalgamation of three hundreds. They were named: Winburgetrowe, of parishes belonging to the bishop of Worcester; Wulfereslaw an ancient Episcopal hundred; and Cuthburgelow, parishes belonging to the monks of the cathedral priory. Previously Harvington was in Cuthburgelow and was subject to 'Royal exactions' (dues, fines paid to the king). This however changed when the new hundred of Oswaldslow was set up and Harvington became exempt, apart from the repair of bridges etc.10

One must realise that in the case of Oswaldslow, Winburgetrowe, Wulfereslaw and Cuthburgelow, they were all ecclesiastical hundreds and did not behave in quite the same way as the old lay hundreds. They were not compact units but were created to take into account parishes owned by the Church.

Areas in pale pink refer to Oswaldslow, note Harvington within circle.
Map from Mawer's Place-names of Worcestershire.

Cuthburgelow initially only contained the manor of Cropthorne, but Harvington and others, being Church property, were taken from elsewhere and added to make up the numbers for the transference into Oswaldslow4. There appears to be politics here between church and vested lay interests. (For further reading, please see: Whybra's the Lost English County of Winchcombeshire). It is fairly safe to say that the creation of Cuthburgelow, or at least the inclusion of Harvington, took place in or slightly before AD 964. The next question is from where, or which hundred, did Harvington come?

Harvington in Þennecumbe
We are now back to AD 964 or thereabouts and there is need to explain the next step. We are now in a time long before the counties of Worcestershire and Warwickshire had been created and looking for a county, division, province or sub-kingdom of the Hwicce, a world stretching back to a much darker age in respect to our knowledge. My belief is that Harvington was in a hundred called Þennecumbe prior to it being transferred to the hundred of Cuthburgelow.

In an apparently early 8th century document, Harvington is described as in 'Þennecumbe'. The name is headed by the old English character Þ (thorn) meaning 'Th'. The document sites a number of local place names, including Þennecumbe. By 1086 the name Þennecumbe had changed to Fernecumbe. Þennecumbe will be discussed later, after considering the present Warwickshire hundred of Barlichway.

The hundred of Barlichway was created in AD 1175 out of a large hundred called Fernecumbe, and a small hundred named Patelau centred on Snitterfield in the present Warwickshire. According to the 'Victoria County History for Warwickshire', Barlichway was identical to and a replacement for the 'old' hundred of Fernecumbe, except for the addition of Patelau. There are now four hundreds in Warwickshire and that of Barlichway covers a large block of land in the south western quarter of the county. There are two meeting places in Barlichway, one at Barlichway Greve near Temple Grafton and the other at Bredon Cross near Ipsley.

The name Þennecumbe is a compound of fen and combe. The first part deriving from fen, meaning low lying, swampy, subject to flooding, water meadow and is probably southern English or Saxon in origin. The second part is from combe and again is probably southern English. The word means a type of valley, and was used in a variety of ways depending upon the shape of the combe.

By 1086 Þennecumbe contained 52 parishes, including Alcester, Stratford-upon-Avon, Bidford-on-Avon, Wixford and our neighbouring parish Salford Priors. Its origin and meeting place is not known but it appears that we are looking for a low lying combe, subject to flooding. If the above calculations are correct then the hundred of Þennecumbe was already in existence by AD 964 and Harvington was probably within its jurisdiction.

As stressed before, hundreds are an ancient land division and not subject to frequent change. Þennecumbe was certainly a political land division in Hwicce, and there is a possibility that it was at least an entity if not a hundred as far back as AD 709. Who set up Þennecumbe as a hundred? Was it the Hwicce or is there a memory here of an older entity. Was Þennecumbe originally part of a seventh century sub-kingdom controlled by the Arosæte from Alcester? This is where, at present, the trail goes cold and we are entering the realm of theory.

There are a couple of slight doubts regarding the mention of Harvington in Þennecumbe in the AD 709 document, hense the words 'probably' and 'possibility' incerted above. This document will be discussed later but the other doubt is that if taken literally, the origin of the name Harvington is down at the ford on the river Avon and coincidentally is set within a low lying combe subject to flooding. Was this Þennecumbe simply a local term describing the area in which Harvington was once set?

Harvington in Charters
Charters are amongst the oldest written records to survive and we are most fortunate to have several mentioning Harvington. They are extremely valuable in giving names of people and of places, some long gone, some still with us. They suggest ownership, property boundaries, a world of order and structure. Upon studying the documents below you will get a sense that there was a place called Harvington, it was owned, tenanted, had boundaries with neighbours and passing trade from road and river. The landscape surrounding Harvington appears to be settled, whether by English or British. One has to be careful however as monastic establishments were not as honest as one might think. There were many forgeries, sometime complete fabrications, sometimes attempting to replace lost or destroyed documents.

There are two prime sources for published early charters and grants, some in Latin, some in old English: Cartularium Saxonicum by Walter de Gray Birch and Codex Diplomaticus Aevi Saxonici by John Mitchell Kemble. Some of the charters have since been translated by subsequent historians.

Here follows a list of the Charters found, coupled with Editor's comments:-

  1. AD 709, This document is to be found in Birch's Cartularium Saxonicum10, No.125. It is thought to date from AD 709. It is a grant of land by Coenred, King of the Mercians, and Offa (see paragraph on Offa), King of the East Saxons, of lands on the banks of the river Avon, etc. to Eve's homme (Evesham Monastery). It is a lengthy document written in Latin in which there are a number of local places mentioned in English, including Harvington.

    The grant is the first document we have that records the place Harvington. It was made by the two kings to the new Abbey at Evesham. It does not tell us what Harvington was or who owned it. The following circumambulation however does suggest that the parish or estate boundary of Harvington was already in existence. It is mentioned as a point of reference in a perambulation (walking the bounds) of lands allocated to Evesham Abbey. It does not include Harvington but defines its western and southern boundaries.

    A small part of the AD 709 grant mentioning Harvington.

    In the first instance from Twiford (Twyford) on the southern side a circumambulation of the place stretches up to Cronochomme (Evesham) near the downward course of the river. And from there near the water up to the division of the land from Fladeburg (Fladbury) which is called Meredic. In this way (sic) in the direction towards the incline of the mountain and towards the middle (of?) Aeldegaren to Aaldenedsthinhage. From Aeldenesthinhage to Boelagesette. From Boelgesette in or to Norphenol. From which through Lenedune up to the divison of the land/territory from Lench (The Lench Hills), and from Herverton (Harvington) in Thennecumbe. From there through Fulan Broc [Full Brook] right up to Harenthilles. From Harenthilles in/into Carkeforth (Carkford). But from there in(to) Goldthelle. And so along the length of the river, up to Smalenmoresyc. And from there into the oats [ avena is ‘oats’] fields. And so in/to Offepole (Offenham]. From Offepole to Pikereshomme. From Pikkeresholme to Burglences. ‘ahlence’ [not a Latin word - a place?] to Ealdenedune. From Ealdenedune to Ealdenemyxan. From where/which to Buggildestret [Buggild Street] in Semeslod. And from there to Chirchestige (Church ------). From Chirchestige to Flittindgare. And so to Blackanpyt [Blackpit].

    This is a fascinating document and needs some explanation of the interesting place names that appear in the section published here and the conclusion that it draws. One does have to take into account that it is a mixture of Latin grammar and old English place names, coupled with the two English characters of thorn 'Þ' & 'ð' eth representing the two pronuniations of 'th'. As one follows the course of the circumambulation, one notices that it appears to follow firstly the river and secondly the parish boundaries of Evesham, Norton, Fladbury, Harvington, and maybe the Littletons and Offenham. One can get a good idea from modern names but the scribe is only using fixed names where possibly such as 'Fladbury'. As a fill in he uses names that are not necessarily fixed in the common vocabulary of the time but simply a description he has made of his route such as the 'oat field'.

    The document needs more work on the identification of some of the locations and the route taken. Our scribe starts at Twiford (Twyford = two fords), the border between Norton and Evesham parishes and heads down the river Avon to Cronochomme (Evesham = possibly from crane [heron] and ham). He follows the course of the river as it sweeps round the Evesham peninsular and eventually comes to Meredic (a boundary ditch or dyke presumably marking the boundary between Evesham, Norphenol (Norton) and Fladeburg (Fladbury from a lady's name such as Eanflaed and burg). From here he leaves the river and heads up hill and towards the middle of Aeldegaren to Aeldenedsthinhage (both places as yet unidentified 'Aeld' means old and 'hage' means enclosure or enclosed), and on to Boelgesette (sette may mean place or position). He is now in the Lenches and on the upper reaches of the parish of Norton. He then heads through 'Lencdune' (land or territory of the Lenches, which apparently mean hills), to the north western corner of the parish of Harvington then in the ancient hundred of Þennecombe.

    He now turns south and follows the Fulan Broc (Full Brook = Harvington Brook), past Harenthilles, not identified but may mark the crossing of the Eveshm Alcester road, and on to Carkforth (Carkeforth = Carkford. Cark, meaning care, is a ford where the road once crossed the Harvington Brook and parish boundary, just before entering Harvington from Norton, it is now just a bend in the road. He now follows the brook to where it enters the river Avon at a place he calls Goldthelle (The first part of this name is from a female name such as in Goldgiefu). He then walks up the river bank to Smalemoresye (Smalemeresuch, the small boundary ditch that separates Harvington and Salford. He now crosses the river to Offpole (Offenham, the ham of Uffa), near to a field of oats.

    Pikereshomme is a meadow on the Avon in Littleton parish and comes from the personal name Picer's ham. He heads through the Littletons to Buggildestret, Buckle Street is the Roman Road running through the Littletons. He turns west and then north passing Ealdenedune, an old place possibly indicating a Romano-British settlement, past a church and back to the river.

    Offa, King of Kent
    It is curious that the scribe mistakenly drew up the above document stating that Offa was King of the East Angles whereas he was in fact King of the East Saxons. Does this imply a re-written document from a later date? Finburg in his Early Charters of the West Mindlands states that Offa, King of Essex, was a major landowner in this area and gave the Littletons, Aldington, Badsey, Bretforton, Poden, Honeybourne and Wickhamford to the newly founded abbey at Evesham. He also owned Offenham. Finberg also states that Offa's property in the area was inherited and suggests that it may have come via his mother Osgith, who was possibly connected with the Hwiccian royal line. The Evesham Chronicle states that Æthilheard of Hwicce son of king Oshere was a kinsman of King Offa.

  2. AD 709, Kemble's Codex Diplomaticus Aevi Saxonici11. There is apparently a reference to 'Herefordinne', but despite a number of searches in the document, it has not been traced.

  3. AD 799, " Coenwulf King [of the Mercian's], to the Abbot Balthun, in exchange for 12 "manentes" at Hereford (Harvington). 30 "manentes" belonging to the minster at Kemesei Kempsey, free of all but the three common dues, with liberty to choose his heir. No payment other than compensation to a victim of crime is to go outside the estate"4 & 8.

    Deneberht's charter to Abbot Balthun from
    Birch's Cartularium Saxonicum.

    Firstly the word 'Manentes', appears to be equivalent to a hide. A hide was traditionally used as a measurement of food rent, either for one family or group, pertaining to a smallholding and more for value of land rather than an area.

    To clarify the above: Coenwulf gave Abbot Balthun of Kempsey Monastery, worth 30 smallholdings in return for the military service and maintenance work at Kempsey, in exchange for 12 'smallholdings' at Harvington.

    If one accepts that a smallholding = one family, which seems likely in this case, then the King received back 12 smallholdings from Baltham. Was Balthun the priest at Harvington, who was moving on to better things? Was this the whole parish or part? The whole village at present seems more likely as 12 hides or smallholdings as the Domesday Book over 250 years later only recorded 3 hides and 17 villagers. This leaves us, or rather King Coelwulf (king AD 796-821) with 12 manentes at Harvington. Was the beneficiary Deneberht (Bishop of Worcester AD 800-822)? Balthun (the Priest) received more land in another charter dated AD 8025.

  4. AD 814, (AD 802 in Birch) Deneberht, bishop, and his cathedral clergy, to Eanswith; lease, for her lifetime, with reversion to the church of Worcester. 2 "cassati" at Hereforda, on condition that she keeps the church's vestments in repair"4.

    Deneberht's grant to Eanswith from
    Birch's Cartularium Saxonicum.

    Finberg1 states: "The date is a lease.

    Harvington's first known tenant was a lady called Eanswith1 whose name suggests she was a member of the Hwiccan elite. Geoffrey Hindley in his A Brief History of the Anglo-Saxons17 has a little more and fascinating information on this lady and her lease. She was granted by Bishop Denebert 200 acres of land in return for the maintenance and enlargement of the cathedral's vestments. His conclusion drawn was that she was carrying out business in her own right and employing crafts women, or men, to carry out the work. She probably visited Harvington but did she ever live in the village?

    From: Magna Britannia Antiqua & Nova, Survey of Great Britain by Thomas Cox, circa 1738.
    "Denebert, who was consecrated the same year (799?), and was present at the synod of Cloveshoe in AD 803, where he confirmed the agreement made in the year 789, by his Predecessor with Wulfheard. He also, in the same synod, settled a dispute between himself and the Bishop of Hereford about the bounds of their Diocese. He was also present at the synod of Celycuth, in 806. He gave to the Church out of his own patrimony, the Manor of Herforton. He died Anno 822."

    There is no record of Denebert's parents or family and therefore no record of who owned Harvington prior to Denebert, although the suggestion is that they were well placed.

  5. In AD 852, Beorhtwulf, King of the Mercian's, transferred to his thegn Eadgar for 700 shekels of gold, three "casseti" in Wiburgestoce (Wiburgestoke) in Harvington4.

    Name of Wiburgestoke
    This charter is intriguing as it raises a number of salient points.

  6. AD 964, Harvington is mentioned as being, among other holdings, held by St Mary's Abbey, Worcester as a re-affirmation of lands by King Edgar"4 & 8.

    This is a confirmation of what we already know.

    An informative website on extant old English documents, both in English and Latin is: Kemble, The Anglo-Saxon Charters. Also Dorothy Whitelock's, English Historical Documents, c.500-1042. Publ: 1979.

    This is the unnamed ditch that the scribe in an early charter described above, called Smalemeresuche as a passing reference. This ditch has been a county boundary between Warwickshire and Worcestershire for over a thousand years. It was named in the Charter of AD 709 as part of a perambulation of lands belonging to Evesham Abbey. The name is descriptive: smale, is a Teutonic and Old English form of small; mere, can either mean a place of standing water or a boundary; suche, is a complicated word but in this case would have meant 'as such', thereby reinforcing the words smale or mere in a document. This of course may have been the only time our brook received this name, hense the word as 'suche' like.

    This article has been an interesting study of the origins of Harvington up to the time of the Norman conquest of England. We are most fortunate that Harvington and its parish has been a stable entity under the ownership of the church at Worcester for so many centuries. This has safeguarded the survival of a number of old English documents. It is hoped that in future, archaeological research will increase our knowledge of this period and as it does so it will be added to this page, plus of course any historical material that may come to light.

    Julian Rawes, Crooked Walls, 2015.


    1. Gloucestershire Studies by H.P.R. Finberg. Publ: Leicester UP.
    2. Roman Britain and the English Settlements by R.G. Collingwood and J.N.L. Myers. Publ: Oxford UP 1986.
    3. The Earliest English Kings by David Kirby. Publ: Routledge, 1990.
    4. The Early Charters of the West Midlands by H.P.R. Finberg. publ: Leicester UP 1961.
    5. Chartalarium Saxonicum by Walter de Gray Birch. Publ: Whiting 1883-93.
    6. Place-Names of Gloucestershire by A.H. Smith. Publ: Oxford UP 1986.
    7. The Lost English County of Winchcombeshire by Julian Whybra. Publ: Boydell 1990.
    8. Anglo-Saxon Charters by P.H. Sawyer. publ: Royal Historical Society 1968.
    9. The Place-Names of Worcestershire by Allen Mawer. publ: Cambridge UP 1927.
    10. Land Tenure in Early England by Eric John. publ: Leicestershire UP 1960.
    11. Codex Diplomaticus Aevi Saxonici by John Michell Kemble. Publ: London 1845.
    12. Domesday Book - Worcestershire publ: Phillimore 1982.
    13. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle edited by Dorothy Whitelock. Publ: Eyre & Spottiswoode 1965.
    14. Anglo-Saxon England by Frank Stenton. Publ: Oxford UP 1971.
    15. A History of the County of Warwick Edited by Salman & Styles. Victoria County series Vol.3, p.155. Publ: Oxford UP 1945.
    16. Mercia by Sarah Zaluckyj. Publ: Logaston Press 2013.
    17. A Brief History of the Anglo-Saxons by Geoffrey Hindley. Publ: Robinson 2015.

    • Plus website links throughout.