Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Lost History of Eire: Excerpts from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

While researching Anglo-Saxon history, Dr. Baelor stumbled upon a collection of early medieval manuscripts at a parish church near the township of Durham in Northumberland. One of the manuscripts read cronica duo Anglica as its title and I now believe that this manuscript is the same as the missing Anglo-Saxon Chronicle that acted as the record for northern England during the reign of Alfred the Great. This version of the chronicle was last recorded in the mid-twelfth century at a monastic library in Durham before disappearing from all records.

Interesting among all the copies of the Chronicle still in existence, this version includes expanded sections of the period in which our story now relates. I personally have not viewed the cronica as Dr. Baelor did not give a detailed explanation of its location. However, he did copy over into English the entries for A.D. 526, A.D. 527, and A.D. 529. Among these, a better picture of the plight of Eire can be determined:
"A.D. 526. This year darkness overtook the sun and the crops failed. Famine and pestilence took over the lands and many died. Refugees from Eire arrived on the west coast but none could support them.
"A.D. 527. This year Cerdic and Cynric fought with the Britons in the place that is called Cerdic's-ley. After this the waters around Britain retreated far out into the sea and the darkness ended. Great waves returned late in the year, crashing upon the shores and flooding the fields. Famine and pestilence again overtook the lands and many more died.
"A.D. 529. This year bodies washed ashore on the west coast. The dead looked to be Gaels from Eire, but none would touch their bodies. The stench of the corpses remained for many months until the bodies were washed back out to see. Smoke was seen off the coast toward Eire and it is thought that a great burning had decimated the land."
No other entries made mention of Ireland again and it is thought that all communication with the wayward isle ceased following 526. Communication with the Isle of Man was restored in the middle of the twelfth century and is recorded in the same chronicle as an obscure entry:
"A.D. 1134. This year a delegation from over sea came to Lancaster to petition King Henry for an audience but he was denied. The men returned to the sea on a large ship and were not seen again."
It can be guessed that this "delegation from over sea" was likely representatives from the Isle of Man who had finally achieved adequate ship craft and a large enough population to risk a voyage. The fact that they were denied suggests Henry was otherwise occupied with matters of state. His death the following year and the descent of England into the Anarchy explains why no further mention of these diplomats appears in the text. The last entry in the Chronicle is 1154 and one must look to other sources to find further information on the matter.

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