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Series: Artes Liberales
Author: Lindy Brady

The Welsh borderlands were a distinctive territory where two peoples came together throughout the Anglo-Saxon period. It was here that men skilled at law drew up the Dunsate Agreement, to solve the impending problems with cattle theft. This book explores what sets the Dunsate Agreement apart from other Anglo-Saxon law codes grappling with cattle theft, highlighting that creators of this document, and the community that it concerns, included both Anglo-Saxons and Welsh. It argues that the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle represents the military culture of the Welsh borderlands in a distinctive way which aligns its inhabitants with outlaws. The book articulates a discernible culture in the Welsh borderlands prior to 1066. Bede's The Historia Ecclesiastica has long been interpreted as a narrative of Anglo/British strife. His rancour towards the pagan Mercians provides substantial information about the life of Penda of Mercia, whose entire reign over this borderlands kingdom was defined by consistent political and military unity with Welsh rulers. Expanding on the mixed culture, the book examines the various Latin and Old English Lives of the popular Anglo-Saxon saint, Guthlac of Crowland. Vernacular literary tradition reveals a group of Old English riddles that link the 'dark Welsh' to agricultural labour through the cattle they herd, and who have long been understood to show the Welsh as slaves. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is frequently cited as a paradigm of Anglo/Welsh antagonism. The book reveals that the impact of the Norman Conquest on the Anglo-Welsh border region was much greater than previously realised.

Lindy Brady

5 •• The Welsh borderlands in the Anglo‑Saxon Chronicle The previous chapters of this book have proposed that the Welsh borderlands had a culture of their own and were understood as a distinct region by the authors of those early Anglo-Saxon texts that mention this territory. This chapter moves forward chronologically to the tenth and eleventh centuries and suggests that political alliance in the Welsh borderlands during the later Anglo-Saxon period was a significant pattern across time. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a major historical source for the later

in Writing the Welsh borderlands in Anglo-Saxon England
Lindy Brady

3 •• The Welsh borderlands in the Lives of St Guthlac1 Chapter Two argued that Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica depicts a mixed Anglo-Welsh culture in the Welsh borderlands in the seventh century. This chapter extends this argument into the eighth century through an examination of the various Latin and Old English Lives of the popular Anglo-Saxon saint, Guthlac of Crowland (d. 715). Guthlac’s Mercian youth and later career as a hermit in the Fens link him indelibly to two of Britain’s most geographically ambiguous spaces, and I argue that the group of AngloSaxon

in Writing the Welsh borderlands in Anglo-Saxon England
Lindy Brady

2 •• Penda of Mercia and the Welsh borderlands in Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica Bede’s eighth-century Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum, one of the earliest and most historically significant surviving texts of the Anglo-Saxon period, narrates the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity and the nascent formation of what might be called an ‘English’ identity. The Historia Ecclesiastica has long been interpreted as a narrative of Anglo/ British strife, because Bede is so critical of the Britons, who are in his perspective heretical. Yet because of Bede

in Writing the Welsh borderlands in Anglo-Saxon England
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Harold Godwinson, the last Anglo
Lindy Brady

7 •• Conclusion: Harold Godwinson, the last Anglo-Saxon in the Welsh borderlands The Welsh borderlands were a distinctive territory where two peoples came together throughout the Anglo-Saxon period. This conclusion looks just past the Norman arrival in England to the continued depiction of this region as a cultural nexus – both of English and Welsh, and of AngloSaxon and Anglo-Norman England – in the Vita Haroldi. This understudied thirteenth-century text is, as Stephen Matthews has argued, a work of ‘secular hagiography’1 which claims that Harold was not

in Writing the Welsh borderlands in Anglo-Saxon England
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The Dunsoete Agreement and daily life in the Welsh borderlands
Lindy Brady

1 •• Introduction: the Dunsæte Agreement and daily life in the Welsh borderlands Sometime in late Anglo-Saxon England, a territory called the Dunsæte was having problems with cattle theft. Men skilled at law from within this community sat down together and drew up a document outlining an agreement that addressed the situation. They thought about what ought to happen in a variety of circumstances. If a man sees the tracks of his stolen cattle leave his own property and cross into his neighbour’s land, who is responsible for following the trail and trying to

in Writing the Welsh borderlands in Anglo-Saxon England
Lindy Brady

argue that these riddles hinge on questions not just of ethnicity but also of class. Like the Anglo-Saxons, some Welsh were enslaved and others were warrior elite. The setting of these riddles on the Welsh mearc underscores the reputation of the Welsh borderlands as rife with cattle raiding. Contrary to the common perception that the Welsh borderlands in Anglo-Saxon England were defined by Offa’s Dyke, these riddles – coupled with historical evidence of drove roads – suggest that this region is better understood as a permeable zone within which both AngloSaxons and

in Writing the Welsh borderlands in Anglo-Saxon England
Lindy Brady

6 •• The transformation of the borderlands outlaw in the eleventh century Chapter Five argued that the Welsh borderlands are depicted as a politically allied and distinctive territory throughout the eleventh century in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. The military customs of this region are also singular in being closely aligned with a culture of outlawry, but those living in the borderlands during the Anglo-Saxon period were not divorced from society in the same ways as the outlaws of later romances. As Chapter Five has discussed, the characterisation of the

in Writing the Welsh borderlands in Anglo-Saxon England
Contested borders and blurred boundaries in On the Black Hill
Kate Woodward

Since the birth of film, the rugged mountains and rolling hills of Wales have attracted filmmakers from afar. Traditionally, Wales has predominantly been represented as an unknown but exoticised ‘Other’ in need of mapping, or a peripheral, distant land, geographically distant from the ‘centre’. In this chapter I argue that Andrew Grieve’s adaptation of Bruce Chatwin’s award-winning novel, On the Black Hill (1987), presents a rich and evocative representation of the Welsh borderlands that in numerous ways blurs the traditional representational boundaries of Welsh landscapes on film. This history of one family over the course of the twentieth century is played out amidst the dramatic landscape of the borderlands, but the role of the landscape goes beyond merely providing a backdrop to the border disputes, war and loss that punctuates the characters lives. The traditional relationship between characters and landscape (where the latter is used to define the former) is turned on its head, for here the characters become a function of the landscape. I explore how the film, through the relationship of the twins and the location of the farm itself, articulates the relationship between Wales and England as a ‘site of struggle’ based on landownership and power.

in British rural landscapes on film
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Jill Fitzgerald

fluid boundaries of Mercia, and of the Welsh borderlands’. 9 In Old English prose and poetry, saints appear specially armed with the ability to articulate the terms of this devotion, particularly when threatened by demons. The poems I examine in this chapter reveal a concern with spatial, geographical, and bodily protections against demons. Close encounters with the devil (or demons, as seen in the story of Guthlac) are common in episodes recounting the perfecting of a saint. 10 Whether it is their first interaction with the devil or one of many, ‘a common

in Rebel angels