When the early Anglo-Saxons settled in the area, they established a settlement that later become known as Ludenwic. This settlement was sited 1.6 km’s from the ruins of Londinium, the Roman city (Named Lundenburh in Anglo-Saxon, to mean “London Fort”).
By around 600, Anglo Saxon England was divided into several small kingdoms known as the Heptarchy. Lundenwic came under control of the Mercian Kingdom in about 670, as the Kingdom of Essex became gradually reduced in size and status. After the death of Offa of Mercia in 796, it was later disputed between Mercia and Wessex.
By the 8th century, Lundwic was a prosperous trading centre, both by land and sea. The term “Wic” itself means “trading town” and was derived from the latin word Vicus. So Lundenwic can loosely be translated as “London Trading Town.”
Lundenwic was rediscovered by archaeologists in the 1980s, with more recent excavations unveiling a town that covered around 600,000 square meters, or 6,500,000 sq ft, stretching from the National Gallery today to Aldwych.
Such prosperity and wealth didn’t go unnoticed. London suffered numerous Viking attacks, which became increasingly common from 830 onwards. A raid in 842 was described (loosely translated) by the Anglo Saxon Chronicle “… there was great slaughter in London … ”
Lundenwic was attacked again in 851, where another raiding party, reputed to have 350 ships came to plunder the city.
“ … came three hundred and fifty ships came into the mouth of the Thames; the crew of which went upon land, and stormed … London … ”Viking Invasion : Great Heathen Army
In 865, the Viking “Great Heathen Army” (Anglo-Saxon Chronicle of 865) launched a large scale invasion of the Kingdom of East Anglia. They marched through England, conquering Mercia, Northumbria and controlled most of Anglo Saxon England.
By 871, the Vikings had turned their attentions south and reached London, having camped over winter within the old Roman walls of Londinium. The Anglo Saxon Chronicles are unclear as to what exactly happened during this period, but it’s likely that such close proximity to Lundwic would have meant Viking occupation and control for the inhabitants.
The tide turned in 878, when forces led by Alfred the Great defeated the Vikings at the Battle of Ethandun (Scholarly consensus identified its location with the present-day Edington in Wiltshire) and forced a peace agreement. Various treaties that followed led to the dividing of England into territories called Danelaw (Under Viking rule) and the Anglo-Saxon lands.
London was eventually restored to Anglo Saxon rule in 886. The town of Lundenwic was largely abandoned and the settlement re-established within the Roman walls of Londinium. Lundenwic gained the name of Ealdwic, ‘old settlement’, a name which survives today as Aldwych.
This new fortified settlement of London was named Lundenburgh (A burgh meaning “fortified dwelling place”) and formed a collective defensive system of “burghs” and fortified towns.
Within ten years, Alfred the Great had repaired the Roman walls, recut the defensive ditch (Roman fossa that encircled the walls of Londinium) and laid out the beginnings of the present day City of London. These boundaries today are still defined by the London Wall Road and ruins of some of the historic city walls.Viking Invasion by Sweyn Forkbeard
Peace reigned for London into the 10th century, until Viking attacks were once again continued by Sweyn Forkbeard of Denmark in 994. During this time, Æthelred II (Æthelred the Unready) was the Anglo Saxon King and favoured London as his capital.
According to the chronicles of John of Wallingford, Sweyn was involved in raids against England during 1002–1005, 1006–1007, and 1009–1012, to revenge the St. Brice’s Day massacre of England’s Danish inhabitants in November 1002. Historians have considered the massacre as similar to a large-scale ethnic cleansing of the Danes in England, a cleansing that was orchestrated by Æthelred the Unready.
As Sweyn swept across England, London was subject to a long Viking siege in 1013 and eventually capitulated to the Viking invaders.
King Æthelred sent his sons Edward (Ironside) and Alfred to Normandy, and retreated to the Isle of Wight, where he fled overseas in exile to seek support from his ally, the Norwegian king Olaf.
A Norse saga tells of a battle when King Æthelred returned to attack Danish-occupied London.
According to the saga, the Danes lined London Bridge and showered the attackers with spears. Undaunted, the attackers pulled the roofs off nearby houses and held them over their heads in the boats. Thus protected, they were able to get close enough to the bridge to attach ropes to the piers and pull the bridge down, thus ending the Viking occupation of London.
This story presumably relates to Æthelred’s return to power after Sweyn’s death in 1014, but there is no strong evidence of any such struggle for control of London on that occasion.Viking Invasion by Cnut the Great
War loomed again, when in the summer of 1015, Cnut the Great, son of Sweyn Forkbeard set sail for England with a Danish army of perhaps 10,000 men in 200 longships. The invasion force was to engage in close and grisly warfare with the English for the next fourteen months.
After Æthelred’s own death in 1016, his son Edmund Ironside was proclaimed Kind by the “witangememot” (meeting of wise men). Whilst Edmund was away gathering forces to bolster England’s defensives against Cnut, London once again was subject to systematic sieges by the Viking forces but repelled.London captured by treaty
During the Battle of Assandun on 18 October 1016, Edmund was defeated and ceded to Cnut all of England north of the River Thames. Accession to the reign of the entire realm was set to pass to Cnut upon Edmund’s death.
Edmund coincidentally died weeks later that led to Cnut gaining control of the remaining Saxon territories and London. His coronation to the throne of England took place in London on Christmas day that year.
Cnut maintained his power by uniting Danes and Englishmen under cultural bonds of wealth and custom, rather than by sheer brutality. The protection he lent against Viking raiders (many of them under his command) restored the prosperity that had been increasingly impaired in England.
Historian Norman Cantor has made the statement that he was “the most effective king in Anglo-Saxon history”, despite his not being Anglo-Saxon.
Cnut ruled England for nineteen years….
As the site of one of the most infamous and bloodiest battles to take places in the entirety of the war the battlefields are a popular tourist attraction.
There is a Circuit of Remembrance at the site; it consists of a forty-mile route that starts at either the town of Albert or Peronne. The tour allows visitors to see various battle sites, memorials and museums.2 Fort Douaumont
The fort was originally built following the Franco-Prussian wars around 1885 and was considered a crucial defensive post due its sunken position on high ground.
It is the site of the Battle of Verdun that was fought in February in 1916. Today the fort stands in the same condition as it did at the end of the war and contains well-preserved barracks, command posts and a graveyard. Visitors are able to take a tour around the site.3 Lochnagar Crater
The Lochnagar Crater resides in the French village of La Bosisselle and was the site in which the first explosion of the Battle of the Somme took place.
The Bristish deployed the explosion on 1st July 1916 and at the time was one of the biggest that had ever been detonated. Today the crater can be visited as part of the Circuit of Remembrance or as an individual site. It is well worth a visit to see the 100-meter diameter and 30-meter deep crater.4 Anzac Cove
Anzac Cove is located in the Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey and was the landing site for the Australian and New Zealander troops on 25th April 1915.
For 8 months the cove was used as the base for the Australian and New Zealander troops whilst they attempted to remove Turkey from the war.5 Menin Gate
Menin Gate is located in Ypres, Belgium and is a memorial to the soldiers who went missing in Belgium during the entire war.
The memorial gate was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfiled and was built in 1927. The town of Ypres is also well known for being the site of three battles known as The Battles of Ypres. Today the memorial contains 54,896 names of British and Commonwealth soldiers.6 Étaples Military Cemetery
During the war Étaples Military Cemetery was the site of a large military hospital and resides near Boulogne, France.
King George V and General Douglas Haig inaugurated the cemetery on May 14th 1922. The cemetery contains the graves of over 10,000 Commonwealth troops, along with over 500 non-commonwealth troops.7 Aisne-Marne American Cemetery
The Aisne-Marne American Cemetery resides in Belleau, Northern France at the site where the Battle of Belleau Woods took place.
This battle was fought by the Americans from 1st June-26th June 1918, which secured the area from the German army. The cemetery is an astounding 42 acres and contains 2,289 graves.8 Chateau-Thierry American Monument
Also known as the Hill 204 Monument, Chateau-Thierry American Monument overlooks the River Marne in France.
The monument commemorates the American soldiers that fought during World War I. The monument also boasts a mesmerizing granite structure with colonnades and heroic statues. Visitors can take the chance to learn about the battles that were fought in the area.9 Fort Vaux
Also known as ‘Fort De Vaux’, Fort Vaux lies near Verdun and was originally a 19th century fort.
Fort Vaux is famous for the defenses of the French during its capture. It was the second fort to be captured during the Battle of Verdun and the soldiers would not surrender, despite running out of resources, and famously carrier pigeons. Visitors are able to undertake a tour through the fort.10 Irish Peace Tower
The Irish Peace Tower is also known as the Island of Ireland Peace Park and is a memorial to both Catholic and Protestant soldiers of World War I.
Mary McAleese, President of Ireland, Queen Elizabeth II and King Albert II, King of Belgium opened the memorial back in 1998. The tower rises 100 meters and is located on the site where both Protestant and Catholic Irish soldiers fought together for the only time against a common enemy.
Header Image Source: Wikimedia
The West Derby Carnegie Library, known locally as Lister Drive Library, was established with funding from an Andrew Carnegie grant, and opened in 1905. The library is a one-storey brick built structure with stone dressings, a slate roof and an octagonal turret. It was designed by Liverpool Corporation architect Thomas Shelmerdine who was responsible for a number of Liverpool’s libraries. The library originally contained a lending library and a number of reading rooms. Sadly, following health and safety concerns, the library closed in 2006 and has remained vacant since. This period of un-occupation has resulted in the library being subject to theft, vandalism and neglect. Items stolen from the library include lead flashings, the glazing to roof lights and feature ridge tiles. There has been substantial rainwater ingress which has severely damaged the timber structure and internal decorative plasterwork and joinery and dry rot is common throughout the building.
The ‘Lister Steps Carnegie Community Hub’ project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, is currently in its development stage, however once completed Lister Steps aim to relocate their existing childcare services into the building. The regenerated building will also serve as a centre for community engagement, a ‘hub’ offering refreshments, activities and training opportunities for the local community and visitors.
The project will shortly begin a period of consultation with stakeholders and members of the community. The project aims to host a number of heritage activities in the near future such as tours of the library and grounds, an oral history project, building recording activities and training opportunities. We welcome comments, suggestions and advice from Heritage Daily subscribers via our online survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NPBB39Z and we are keen to hear from subscribers willing to share best practice ideas and suggestions for match funding.
Please follow our progress on Facebook (facebook.com/listerstepscarnegiecommunityhub), Twitter (@ListerStepsHub) and our website (https://listerstepscarnegiecommunityhub.weebly.com)
Kerry Massheder-Rigby, Heritage Development Officer, Kerry Massheder-Rigby@listersteps.co.uk
Header Image Source: Wikimedia
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