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King Alfred and the Development of London

King Alfred and the Development of London

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"King Alfred and the Development of London" by Jeremy Haslam
"King Alfred and the Development of London" by Jeremy Haslam

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HISTORICALSYNTHESIS
KingAlfredandthedevelopmentofLondon
JeremyHaslam
TenyearsagoJohnClarkpublishedanarticlesummarisingthepositionwithregardtotheroleofKingAlfredintheearlydevelopmentofLondon,followingcontributionsbyGustavMilne,TonyDysonandAlanVince.'Sincethen,therehavebeensignificantdevelopments,butnofewerunresolvedquestions.MilnedevelopedhisoriginalmodelinrelationinparticulartohisstudyoftheCripplegatearea;anewoverviewwaspublishedbyDerekKeene;andthesubjectwasbrieflysummarisedrecently.2Whatfollowsisabriefsummaryofatwo-partstudy,tobepublishedelsewhere,inwhichIputforwardanextendedhypothesisormodelforthedevelopmentofLondonanditswiderhistoricalandspatialcontextintheperiod
874-886,
andwhichproposesaratherdifferentcourseofdevelopmentfromthatcurrentlyaccepted)Itistheseyearswhich,itisargued,covertheperiodinwhichKingAlfredwasabletocreatethebasisforthedevelopmentofLondoninsucceedingcenturies.AlmosteverycommentatorseesthedevelopmentofLateSaxonLondonasbeginningin
886,
whichassumptionispredicatedonaliteralexegesisoftheaccountofits'restoration'inthe
Anglo-SaxonChronicle
forthatyear.Thisis,furthermore,basedonthepremisethatthisyearmarkedthereplacementofaDanishoccupationofthecitybythe
English+,
Therearereasons,however,forsuggestingthatKingAlfredtookcontrolofLondonanditssurroundingarea,insomesortofdivisionofinterestsinMerciawiththeVikingappointeeKingCeolwulf,afterthedepositionofBurgredofMerciain
874.
ItcanbeinferredfromthepatternofthemintingofcoinsthatAlfredhadgainedcompletecontrolby
877,
usingLondonasthemainmintingplaceforareformofthecoinagearoundthistime.!Ihavearguedthatasaresultoftheso-called'partition'ofMerciain
877
hewasoustedfromthispositionbyanallianceofCeolwulfwiththeVikings,whothereaftercontrolledLondonwithoutAlfred,andmintedcoinsinthenameofCeolwulfalone.sJustafterthis,inJanuary
878,
AlfredsufferedanothersetbackbybeingdrivenintoexileintothemarshesofSomersetbyanattackbyGuthrum'sVikingsonhiscourtatChippenham,wherehewasspendingChristmas.IhavearguedthatasaresultofhisvictoryoverGuthrum'sforcesatEdingtoninthefollowingspring,Alfredwasabletocreateadefence-in-depthofWessexbythebuildingofasystemof
burhs,
whichwasdescribedinthecontemporary
BurghalHidage
document."Thiswasclearlyalsoanoffensivestrategywhich,Isuggest,wastargettedagainsttheVikingsinMerciaandLondon.Bylate
879
thissystemhadclearlybeendevelopedsufficientlytohavecompelledtheVikingstovacateMerciaandLondon.Guthrum'sarmyretreatedtoanewly-establishedkingdominEastAnglia,andanotherformidableVikingarmywhichhadoccupiedastrategicallyoffensivepositionatFulhamtothewestofLondon,neartheRomanroadleadingintotheheartofWessex,alsoretreatedbackacrossthe
Channel.s
ltcanbesuggestedthatatthispointAlfreddeposed,andprobablyassassinated,KingCeolwulfofMercia,whose'obituary'intheWestSaxon
Anglo-SaxonChronicle
showshimtohavebeenadespisedandhatedrivaland,byinference,animpedimenttothedevelopmentofAlfred'sinterestsinMercia.ThereafterLondon,aswellasthewholeoftherestofMercia,fellunderthecontrolofAlfredalone,creatinganewpoliticalentityandpolitywhichcontemporariescalledthe'KingdomoftheAnglo-Saxons'.?AlfredwashoweverquicktoappointealdormanAethelred,hisfutureson-in-law,ashissub-regentinMercia,arguablyfromsoonafterthiscrucialtimeoftransition.TherearereasonsforsuggestingthatAlfredwouldhavelostnotimeindevelopingthewalledRomancityofLondonasa
burh,
andthatitwasatthistime-inlate
879
orpossiblyearly
880
-thatthisprocesswassetinmotion.Itwouldhavebeencreatedasanewcommunitywithinrefurbisheddefencesmannedbyagarrison,inwhichthenewburghalspacewasreorganisedanddevelopedtoincludeasystemofplannedstreets,wharvesandmarkets.Thiswouldhavehadasitsgoalthecreationofbothasecurely-garrisonedfortressandasustainablecommunitywhichwouldhaveguaranteedthemilitaryeffectivenessofthe
burh
inthelongterm,andwhosetradingandotheractivitieswouldhavecreatedanongoingrevenue-streamfortheking.Thiscanbeseenasbeingdevelopedonthemodelofhisnew
burhs
inWessex,forexampleatWinchesterandothernewurbanfoundationssuchasCricklade,WallingfordandExeter,whichhadbeencreatedinthepreviouscoupleofyears.Itwouldalsohaveconsolidatedtheking'scontroloverterritorieswhichhadpreviouslybeeninthehandsoftheVikings,ensuringtheallegianceofthepopulationtohimself.AnimportantevidentialbasisofthismodelistheexistenceoftheLondonMonogramcoinage,producedinlimitedquantitiesatthisjuncturetocelebrateAlfred'sre-captureofLondonandtoadvertisehisassumptionofcontrolofMercia,ofwhichLondonhadpreviouslybeenthehub.Atthesametime,celebratoryissueswerealsomintedinOxfordandGloucestertothenewweightstandardoftheLondonMonogramcoinage.tvOxfordhadalreadybeenincorporatedintotheburghalsystem,which,withBuckingham,includedpartofeasternMercia.Itcanbeinferredfromtheassociationofmintswith
burhs
atthistimeandlater"thatGloucesterwouldalsohavebeenplannedandlaidoutasanewburhandmarketatthistime.Theformationofnew
burhs
atLondonandGloucester,incorporatingOxfordasaregionalcentre,showsthattheburghalsystemofWessexwasextendedtoatleastsouthernMerciaatthisdate-
c.
880-
andthatthese
burhs
representedthedirectmeansbywhichAlfredwasabletoexertcontroloverhisnewlyextendedkingdom.Theargumentsto
 
."
""
"
i;rBt.,~_
':',
.
Bishopof
Worcester's
$0(&
o
200100
300400
.Til
metres
Fig.I:LondoninthetimeofKingAlfredStreets:Ae-AethelingStreetAg-AldgateStreetB-BishopsgateStreetBoL-BotolphLaneBr-BreadStreetBra-BroadStreetBL-BowLaneBu-BuddersburyC-CannonStreet(Candlewickstreet
I
Candelwryhttstrete)
DH-Dunstan'sHillE-EastcheapF-FenchurchStreetFSH-FishStreetHillGaH-GarlickHillGr-GracechurchStreetLa-LombardStreetML-MincingLaneMi-MilesLane
theeffectthatthe
BurghalHidage
wasproducedasaprescriptivedocumentinthecontextofthecreationoftheburghalsysteminWessexinthe18monthsorsobeforelate87912explainswhyLondonwasnotincludedinthelistof
burhs
itsetsout.TheLondonMonogramcoinswereissuedforashortperiodonly,soitisofparticularinterestthatthreeofthemwererecoveredfromexcavationsoftheLateSaxonforeshoreatBullWharf,adjacenttothelater
Queenhithe.t-
Thesefindsprovidedirectandcloselydateableevidencethattradingactivitywastakingplaceontheforeshoreintheearly880s,ratherthanonlybeginningattheiconicdateof886.AsJohn
MaH-StMary'sHillN-NewgateStreetP-PaternosterStreet
I
RowPo-PoultryRL-RoodLaneW-WoodStreetWFM-WestFishMarketGates:Asg-AldersgateAg-AldgateBg-BishopsgateCg-CripplegateLg-LudgateNg-NewgateStPg-'StPeter'sGate'
KING
ALFRED'S
LONDON
Clarkehaspointedout,they"reflecttheneedsofabusytradingenvironmentforsmallchange".14Thepresenceofimportedartefactsoftheearlyandmid-9thcenturyintheseearlylevelsontheBullWharfsite15showshoweverthatthishadbeeninuseasatradingforeshoreforsometimebeforethis.ItislikelythereforethatthestreetsleadinguptoCheapsidefromtheshoreandtheassociatedhithes,comprisingGarlickHill/BowLaneandBreadStreet,whichhavealreadyshownarchaeologicalevidenceofanearlyorigininbeinglaiddirectlyoverRomanlevelsandinbeingassociatedwithstructuresofthefirstphaseoftheuseofLateSaxonceramics,wereeithernewlylaidoutor
.'
.
"
.
.
.
.
.
N
Churches:HT-HolyTrinityAldgateStAu-StAugustineStG-StGregoryStH-StHelen'sBishopsgateStM-StMartinIeGrandStP-StPeteradVinculaHithes:B-BillingsgateBW-BotolphWharfD-DowgateG-GarlidchitheQ-Queenhithe
(Aethelred'shithe)
werealreadyinexistenceatthistime(seeFig.
2).
Receivedopinionthatthesestreetswereonlycreatedsubsequentto,andconsequentupon,thegiftofasoketothebishopofWorcesterbyAlfredatQueenhithein889
16
mustbemodifiedtotakeaccountofthearchaeologicalfindingsfromBullWharf.ThesestreetswerealsoassociatedwithotherearlyhithesalongthisstretchoftheThames,suchasFishhithe,GarlickhitheandTimberhithe,whichmaywellhavebeendevelopedduringthisearliestphaseofthedevelopmentofpost-RomanLondon.Therearereasonsforarguingthatthesenewstreetswerepartofa
system
ofstreetslaidoutduringthisphaseof
SPRING20I0LondonArchaeologist209
 
i
-i
!I
KINGALFRED'SLONDON
thecreationofthenewburghalspace,ratherthan'developed'overanextendedperiodafter886.ThesestreetswouldhaveincludedGarlickHill/BowLane,BreadStreet,FishStreetHill(leadingtoLondonbridge),BotolphLane/PhilpotLaneandStMary'sHill!RoodLane,allleadinginuninterruptedlinesfromwharvesontheforeshoretoCheapsideinthewesternpartofthenew
burh,
andtoFenchurchStreettotheeastofLondonBridge.17Dowgatealsosharesthesecharacteristics,andcanbesuggestedasbelongingtothisinitialstreetsystem,connectinganearlytradingshorewiththeeasternendofthegreatmarketatCheapside.FishStreetHillandBotolphLanehaveshownevidenceeitherofanearlyoriginoroflate-9th-centurystructuresbytheirsides,andStMaryHillisofthesametopographicaltype.
18
AlthoughbothJohnSchofieldandTonyDysonhavearguedthatthetradingshoretotheeastofthepositionofLondonBridgewouldonlyhavedevelopedfromthelater10thcenturv,"?thismodelofthedevelopmentoftheburghalspaceimpliesthatthewharvesandforeshoretradingareaswhichthesenewstreetsservicedwouldalsohavebeendevelopedanewaspartoftheAlfredianphaseoftheinitialreplanningofthenewburghalspace.ItislikelythatalltheseprimarystreetswouldhavebeenconnectedtotheinternalareasbygatewaysintheoldRomanriversidewall,whichwouldhaveformedpartofthedefensivesystemofthenew
burh.
Cheapsidealsoseemslikelytohavebeenlaidoutasanewplannedstreetmarket,onadifferentalignmenttoitsRomanpredecessor,formingthecommercialhubofthenew
burh
atthistime,2oalthoughitispossiblethatthistoowasincorporatedintothenewlayoutfromanearlierphaseofMid-Saxonredevelopment.TherecentexcavationsatNo.1PoultryshowthattheeasternendofCheapsidewidenedintoanopencobbledarea,presumablyalargeopen
market.n
ThiswouldhavebeenconnectedbyanewbridgeovertheWalbrook(againnotonaRomanalignment)toapointonitseasternbankfromwhichstreetsledtothegatesintheeasternpartofthe
burh
(LombardStreet!FenchurchStreet,Cornhill!LeadenhallStreet,bothleadingto
210LondonArchaeologist
SPRING20I0
Aldgate,andThreadneedleStreet!BishopsgateStreet,leadingtoBishopsgate),theircoursestosomeextentinfluencedbythesurvivalofthestructureoftheRomanForum.22These,likeCheapside,maywellhavebeeninplaceatanearlierperiod.Inadditiontothesenewstreets,theeast-weststreetsofTrinityLaneandKnightriderStreet,tothewestofWalbrookandsouthofCheapside,werearguablylaidoutatthesametimetoformarectangulargrid.TheseconvergedtoformasinglestreetontheeastsideofWalbrook(CannonStreet,themedievalCandlewickStreet)formingacoherentsingleplanunit(betweentheWalbrooktothewest,FishStreetHilltotheeast,therivertothesouthandFenchurchStreettothenorth,andalsoextendingfurthertotheeast)whoseladder-likepatternofsidestreetssuggestscontemporaneitywithcomparableformsofurbanlayoutinothernewtownsoftheperiodsuchasWinchester.
23
Thisplan-unitwashoweverlaidoutonan8-polemodule,incontrasttoa16-polemoduleappliedinthelayoutofWinchester.24ThisstreetcontinueseastwardsalongEastcheapinanunbrokenlinetoagatewhichIhavearguedelsewhereexistedintheeasternwallonthesiteofthelaterTowerofLondon.25OthernewstreetslaidoutaspartofthisplannedsystemarelikelytohaveincludedWoodStreet,leadingnorthwardsinanuninterruptedlinefromCheapsidetoagateatCripplegate,aswellasNewgateStreetitself.ThissystemisalsolikelytohaveincludedalargeareaatSmithfieldoutsidethewalls,approachedfromthenorthbyanancientdroveroad,forthesupplyandmarketingofcattle.Itispossiblethatroyalandecclesiasticalelementscouldhavebeenrepresentedinthenew
burh
bythefoundationofanewminsteratStMartinIeGrand,whichliketheNewMinsteratWinchestermayhavebeencreatedadjacenttoaroyalresidence,sitedpossiblynearStMartin's,andthe'OldMinster'atStPaul's.Otherchurcheswerepossiblycreatedatthistime-StHelen'sBishopsgateorStPeterinCornhill,theprecursorofHolyTrinityAldgate,andStPeteradVinculaatthelaterTowerofLondon-eachwitha
parochia
whichappearstohavebeenthedirectprecursortoaward,thoughthispatternisadmittedlyspeculative.ItwasprobablyatthistimethatthebishopofLondonwasgivencontrolofalargeareaorsakewhichcomprisedmuchofthecentralpartoftheareatotheeastofWalbrook.z?Althoughthismightwellhavehadearlierorigins,itcouldbeseenaspartofwhatmightbecharacterisedasapartnershipagreementbetweenthebishopandKingAlfredwhichwasintendedtofacilitatetherenewalofthearea.AnotheressentialphysicalandfunctionalcomponentofthenewburghalspaceofAlfred'sLondonwouldarguablyhavebeenthebridge.AlthoughthereceivedparadigmhasbeenthatLondonBridgewasfirstcreatedontheoccasionofAlfred's'restoration'ofLondonin886,26recentviewshavecastdoubtonitsveryexistencebeforetheendofthe10thcentury,whenitwasfirstmentionedindocumentsandwhenthefirstarchaeologicalevidenceforitspresencecanberecognised.
28
Butthestrategicreasonsforpostulatingitsexistenceatleastfromthefoundationofthe
burh
byAlfredaretooimportanttobeignored.Itwouldnotonlyhavemadeanessentialconnectionwiththealready-existing
burh
atSouthwarkontheothersideoftheriver;itwasalsothekeytothedominationbothofpassagealongtheThamesandoflandrouteswhichfocussedonitspositionasthelowestcrossingpointoftheriver.AssuchitwouldhaveformedacrucialtacticalinstrumentbothtopreventthepassageofVikingwarshipsfurtherupriver-whichofcoursewasamajorstrategichighwayleadingrightintotheheartofAlfred'snewkingdom-andtofacilitatemovementacrosslandofthe
fyrd,
Alfred'snewmobilefieldarmy.Itwouldhavehadparallelswithotherburh-bridgeunitsoftheperiodinbothEnglandandtheFrankishempire.z?Itswiderarchaeologicalandtopographicalcontext,furthermore,providesstrongreasonsforsuggestingthatitwouldhavebeenthesuccessorofanearlierbridgewhichinallprobabilityutilisedthestarlingsofthefirstRomanbridgeovertheThames.InthisithasmanyparallelswiththeRoman,SaxonandearlymedievalbridgeatRochester.3
0
Itisthiscontinuityofsite(thoughnotnecessarilyitsfullfunctionalor

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