About this time,
Start of Iron Age
Claudius sends legions to invade
complete the southern terminus of the
`Between Axmouth and Seaton was the site of the Roman station of Moridunum, from which the Romans carried their great Fosse Way inland to Lincoln, keeping almost parallel with the ridge road along the chalk downs, and the Cotswold Hills.'
`Moridunum, a settlement near Branscombe, is
tentatively placed on the Roman road between
More recent archaeological research has speculated the site of the ‘lost’ Moridunum is at Woodbury Farm, south-east of Axminster:
‘The area scheduled as a monument in 1988 takes the form of an eroded rectangular earthwork enclosing an area of approximately 2ha with modern farm buildings encroaching into the NE corner. Excavation evidence prior to the construction of a swimming pool adjacent to the modern farm house within the enclosure (Silvester and Bidwell 1984) and the watching brief during the insertion of the SWW water main (Weddell 1991 and Simpson 1993) revealed the presence of a first century Roman fort, a well preserved Roman road and suggested extensive extra mural activity. The location of the site at the apparent confluence of two Roman roads (the Fosse Way and the Dorchester to Exeter Road - Silvester and Bidwell 1984 - Fig 1, Margary 1973) has led to the suggestion that the Roman site at Woodbury may well have developed into a villa or posting station (mansio) and indeed it is this latter interpretation that is adopted by Silvester and Bidwell (1984). The discovery of a variety of Roman features during the insertion of both the SWW water main (Simpson 1993) and the 1992 slurry disposal pipe reinforced this interpretation and provided additional evidence to suggest the location of a more substantial civilian settlement (vicus) immediately W of the scheduled monument, possibly the site of the lost Roman town of "Moridunum" (Weddell 1991, Griffith pers comm).’ 
Branscombe is situated near the border between two
pre-Roman tribal confederations, the Dumnonii, and the Durotriges. Many of the Iron Age hilltop forts in
the only examples of contemporary pottery are
area and south
Yet Branscombe is
only a short distance from
`A vital component of the settlement hierarchy was the Romanised farm, or villa. The presence or absence of villas can be used in one kind of assessment of the cultural frontiers of Roman Britain.'
`When the Romans
`Long before the
decline of the empire, the Teutons were beginning to drive the Celts
westward and away, a process which is clearly marked in these islands by the
prevalence of place-names in the west country. Thus,
the percentage of Celtic place-names in
`A major problem
in assessing the importance of Celtic language is that it did not develop as a
written language in
The second Legion
Augusta, brought from
`The wide estuary
of the Axe at that time afforded a safe harbour, so a settlement came into
being on the banks of the river and gave rise to the need for a building
material and, to men accustomed to the use of stone in their homeland, the
sight of the nearby white cliffs of must have suggested a possible local
source. An investigative expedition would then have discovered, at the base of
the massive chalk cliffs, a seam of fine limestone of a similar texture to that
Quarrying from the shore would have been impractical, so they followed the steep wooded combe, which was later to become the village of Beer, inland and then westwards, parallel to the cliffs, until they discovered the outcrop on the northern slope of the hillside approximately one mile from the coastline ... Although it is apparent that the Romans quarried vast quantities of stone, the only authenticated findings of its use in buildings is in Honeyditches Villa, Seaton, the bath house of which was excavated by Henrietta Quinnell, in 1969 ... it is interesting to note that the method employed by the Romans in the building of the bath house walls, .i.e. the use of stone as quoins and the remainder of the walls local chert (flint), continues to be used in local buildings ... it is evident the Romans transported it even as far as Exeter, a great distance at that time. Here an air raid in 1942 exposed the west doorway of a Saxon church, which was found to be constructed from Beer stone of Roman origin ... It is probable that the Romans continued with their use of the quarry until their departure early in the fifth century.'
The Saxon doorway, in South Street, was found to have been incorporated into the remaining west wall of the later medieval church of Saint George the Martyr, itself demolished in 1843:
‘The church was sited on the west side of South Street, nearly opposite the 14th century College of the Vicars Choral and on the corner of South Street with a narrow road called George Street. The foundation itself was ancient and a church dedicated to St George had been on this same location since at least the 9th or 10th century. This early Saxon church, constructed long before the Norman Conquest of 1066 was even thought of, was built of coarse rubble masonry, probably with a simple floor plan of a single aisle and chancel. At the very least, the stone-built Saxon St George's shows that Exeter was a flourishing Anglo-Saxon settlement with some relatively high status buildings in the early Middle Ages. (St George didn't become the patron saint of England until Edward III created the Order of the Garter in 1348.)’ 
`More than once in
Term of Scapula,
The beginning of Boadicea's initially successful revolt.
Roman Emperor Flavius Vespasian (to 70)
governor, Agricola, having conquered
The building of
A map of
There was an
established trade from the area with the Empire, at this time. The route from the
romanemperorsSeverus drives barbarian invaders from northern
As early as the
4th.century, Christian pilgrims journeyed to
300-900: The classic flowering of the Maya civilisation in the tropical rainforests of Meso-America.
A Roman military
tribune, , is martyred at
In about this year, St.saintsPatrick begins his Irish mission.
The English came
`The Anglo-Saxon conquest is traditionally accepted as beginning in 449, the date given by Bede for the landing of brothers (Hengest/Hengist?) and Horsa [`stallion' and `horse']. But raids on the coasts had been in progress for a considerable time before that, and small settlements of Germanic-speaking peoples were probably already in existence. Exactly what language the invaders found in this country is uncertain.'
`By the middle of the century Britain had been cut off from the rest of the Roman empire for at least a generation, and although some Latin speakers might have been found in the larger towns, it seems probable that Celtic was normally the language with which the invaders came into contact.'
`Alone among all the surrounding parishes, the name Branscombe is, I believe, of pure Keltic origin ... Our first idea is that, lying off the great western highway and being somewhat difficult of access, the Saxons did not meddle with the place as much as they did with the others.'
exterminated Christianity in
By the time the
`The decisive defeat of the Saxons in the battle of battlesMount Badon, circa 500 was followed by a long period of peace for British Christians, and it was then that the foundations were laid for the great expansion that lasted from the sixth to the ninth centuries and gave to Christianity its form and special characteristics. Historical information, in any strict sense of the term, especially for the earlier periods, is extremely scanty, for most of the extant "lives" of the British saints were composed not earlier than the eleventh century for other than historical purposes, though they often preserve earlier sources. For the later periods, information survives only as it has been edited by interested persons whose prejudiced outlook on the church was due at least as much to national and political causes as to ecclesiastical differences. Certain general characteristics of the church can, however, be distinguished.
In doctrine and worship it was one with the rest of western Christendom; in both respects it was orthodox and catholic. The charges of heresy later brought against it are misleading; such charges were weapons common to the armoury both of the Celtic church and its opponents.'
4 June: St.Petrock
officially comes to
The Benedictines establish in
Approximate year of martyrdom of Winifred, `...an obscure north saint.' Branscombe's parish church, St.Winifred's, is dedicated to her. It may be that the chapel at Edge was built on the site of an original Celtic monastic community dedicated to the same saint. A community of celebate clergy, observing a religious rule, and entrusted with the care of souls over a wide and ill-defined area. At some later stage, when the present parish church was built, the monastic community had ceased to exist, but the dedication was transferred. Hoskins gives parallel cases of this process. The term Barton applied to the site of Edge would also indicate an early importance as a farm-dwelling. `Wheat, rye, barley an oats were the standard cereals of Anglo-Saxon England ... Ground into meal for bread-making or converted into malt for brewing, barley easily eclipsed all other cereals. The Anglo-Saxons consumed beer on an oceanic scale. This will not surprise us when we bethink ourselves how much of their meat had to be salted for preservation through the winter months. The original meaning of beretun and berewic is "barley-farm" in each case, but barley was so clearly taken to be the principle Anglo-Saxon grain that both words came to be used of the establishments where corn of any kind was stored; hence the numerous Bartons and Berwicks to be found on the map today ... Until quite late in the Old English period the use of stone as a building material was confined to churches and some fortified strongholds. With a few exceptions, every dwelling-house was built of wood, turf, or some form of unbaked earth. This is true not only of farmhouses but of manors and even royal palaces.'
Barton, or Bere tun, is the Saxon word for a place
enclosed for the storage of barley in ricks. The
The bishops of
Ine is King of Wessex. Between 688 and 694 he commits to writing a code of law which remains one of the few documents remaining in modern times that give any insight into the workings of Anglo-Saxon society. It is clear from this and earlier documents that slavery is accepted by both state and church as part of a natural order of society. Crimes against individuals, including murder and rape, were subject to a scale of fines, depending on the status of the individual or the person they belonged to, or on whom they were dependent. Slaves were an important part of the booty arising from tribal/regional conflicts.
Dwellings at this time were either wood and/or mud and thatch long-houses which included shelter for animals, or simple wattle and daub covers over holes. There were very few stone buildings, even for manors or palaces. Those that were built were mainly churches or strongholds.
Charles Martel defeats the Moslems at
Death of Bede, the scholar-monk of Jarrow.
The first written form of the word combe is found in a Saxon document attributed to about this year, according to the Oxford English Dictionary.
is a form of coomb (also comb,
cumb, coomb). Coomb in Old English [Anglo-Saxon] is cumb, a masculine
word, meaning a small valley, or hollow. It occurs in charters, in descriptions
of local boundaries in the south of
As a separate
word, it is not known in Middle English literature, but has survived in local
use, in which it is quite common in the south of
The Old English cumb is usually supposed to be of
British origin. Modern has cwm
in the same sense, also in composition in place-names. There are a large number
of place-names beginning with cum in
such places as
The Saxons and Angles brought an old Germanic word, kumb or kump, which was remarkably similar in meaning, being a cup or small measure, a round deep basin, or trough. This coincidence would favour its retention and common use, even after colonisation. This might further be strengthened after the Norman Conquest by the existence of a French combe, meaning a small valley surrounded by hills. There are also equivalent words based on comba, in Spanish, Portuguese and northern Italian. Indeed, a Celtic origin has been claimed for all these.
Polwhele suggests bran means crow, thus: valley of the
crows. This is supported by George P.R. Pulman, who
suggests Branos means young crows. On the subject of combe, he points out that
‘The Celts were already resident in
Hoskins suggests Braunton, in northern
`[Branxton, Northumberland] earlier Brankeston, Branxston, contains a personal name as its first element. It was probably Brannoc, a diminutive of Brand, a name found also in Branscombe and Branxholm, Roxburgh.'
`The name Brand in English is usually taken to be of Norse origin, but it may be noted that, as early as 1046, we find Bransbury, Hampshire, as Brandesburgh, while Branston, Staffordshire, is Brantestun in a charter dated 956.'
`In or about 789
three ships' crews from
The sacking of
Death of King
monarchsOffa marks the end of
`Wealth and authority were synonymous with the ownership of land. On his manorial estate, the lord, who was sometimes an abbot, stood at the head of a descending hierarchy of tenants.'
monarchsEgbert (I) ascends throne of
The Emperor Charles
the Great, (Charlemagne) dies at
`Charlemagne soon became a legend, and was placed, as a universal hero along with Abraham and among the Nine Worthies revered in Medieval times.'
`Charlemagne's development of the lord/man relationship, allied with a system of land tenure which linked vassal to lord by an oath of fidelity, became the basis for the later feudal organization of society.'
The first King of England, MonarchsEgbert of Wessex, ascends the throne (to 839). First of the Danish and Saxon kings, (829-1066).
Carey's Castle: `It was here that monarchsEgbert had his headquarters, in 833, when defeated by the Danes at Charmouth.'
The reign of monarchsEgbert ends (since 829). The second King of England, monarchsEthelwulf, ascends the throne (to 858).
`According to the
chroniclers, the ancient Pictish kingdom of north
monarchsEthelbald usurps monarchsEgbert as king of
Branscombe manor in Colyton hundred in 857 the property of the crown, and mentioned in monarchsEdulwulf's (monarchsEthelwulf?) will.
The reign of MonarchsEthelwulf ends (since 839). MonarchsEthelbert ascends the throne (to 866).
Reign of rival king MonarchsEthelbald ends (since 855).
The Danes land in strength in
Reign of king monarchsEthelbert ends (since 858). monarchsEthelred I ascends the throne (to 871).
Reign of King MonarchsEthelred I ends (since 866). monarchsAlfred the Great ascends the throne (to 899).
`Saxon Exeancester was defended by King Alfred but twice ravaged by the Danes.'
sponsors compilation of the
Chronicle, the first history of
Reign of monarchsAlfred the Great ends (since 871). monarchsEdward the Elder ascends the throne (to 925).
Branscombe manor in the Hundred of Colyton given by King Alfred to his younger son, Aethelweard, in 901. When he died before his father, Branscombe passed to MonarchsEdward the Elder, and from him to MonarchsAthelstan. (c.895-940)
King Alfred's son
Edward builds a small fort on each bank of the
Reign of King Edward the Elder ends (since 899). monarchsAthelstan ascends the throne (to 939).
The manor of Branscombe is
given to the Abbey Church of St.Peter, by Athelstan, King Alfred's
grandson. The Benedictine monks have been resident in
The remains of Saint Branwallader are removed from Branscombe to Sherborne Abbey?
It was a stormy night, such as we had never seen
The wind was stronger than it had ever been
The sky was alive with light, and thunderous groan
The waves pounded the shore, high the spray was thrown
And into this, came a boat with strangers to our land
Seeking shelter in the corner of the bay, upon the sand.
By day, the strangers made a shelter of wood upon the hill
Although their tongue was strange, they seemed to bear no ill
And as the days turned into weeks, and months, we heard
And understood, and soon our people were enraptured
And took to joining in the lilting chant they sang
But my heart was troubled, and at this I felt a pang.
To the North of the corner of our bay, there was a sacred grove
A place of ancient stones where mystic charms were wove
And we revered this site of the gods of streams and stones
This place in which we saw dreams foretold from buried bones
The tomb of Hélène, the name here from times long past
In which we made our sacrifice of blood to placate the ghast.
But now the tomb fell silent, as all but few had left the sacred way
Processing away instead, with wooden cross held high, to pray
To this man they say was god, who died and rose again
Gave a promise that this sacrifice was for each and all men
And we few make a lonely vigil, to sing the ancient song
At our own stone table, where our beliefs still belong.
Their leader, Branwallader by name, saw us there
And took himself to the rocks in solitude and prayer
When he returned, he gathered all his folk, and all the tribe
And we knew then that our worship he would proscribe
Soon the dance of the oak would end, the stones be gone
And all would be lost, no one to praise our pantheon.
By night, they lit torches, and while we slept, they worked
A dozen hauled the stones down from the hill, none shirked
Until the task was complete, and our sacred tomb taken away
And our gods did nothing to prevent this to our great dismay
The stones themselves were broken up, apart from very largest
Which were made a foundation, and here they were craftiest.
This was the tale of Tomberlaine, our sacred shrine of stone
And how they took it from where it stood to the very last bone
That lay buried there, and moved it downwards by the sea
And scattered what they could not use, then what was left to be
To form a cornerstone for their new shrine, their risen man
And so the old beliefs would wane away in just one brief lifespan.
I am the last of the cult of the oak and tree and stone and rain
And there is nothing left now but in sad memory pain
I tell the tale so that my children will not quite forget
Although in strange form it may be retold, and beget
When none remembers where the stone table once did lay
For all, but I, have now left to rejoice and pray. 
Reign of King MonarchsAthelstan ends (since 925). MonarchsEdmund ascends the throne (to 946).
Reign of King Edmund ends (since 939). MonarchsEdred ascends the throne (to 955).
when, according to legend, Kupe discovers
Reign of King Edred ends (since 946). MonarchsEdwy ascends the throne (to 959?).
monarchsEdgar becomes king of all
?Reign of King Edwy ends (since 955). MonarchsEdgar ascends the throne (to 975). Edgar has been King of Mercia since 957.
Reign of King Edgar ends (since 959). MonarchsEdward the Martyr ascends the throne (to 978).
Reign of King Edward the Martyr ends (since 975). MonarchsEthelred II Redeless ("Unready") ascends the throne for the first of two reigns (this time to 1013).
`The conversion of
Prince Vladimir of
The s defeat the
It inspires an Old English poem, The Battle of Maldon, which celebrates the unyielding courage of an English bodyguard which refused to retreat when their leader was killed, but fought around his body until all were dead. The very core of the sentiment is expressed by an old retainer called Beorhtwold:
`Heart shall be bolder, harder be purpose,
more proud the spirit, as our power lessens.'
In Tolkien's poem, The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth, Beorhthelm's Son, the words are not given to Beorhtwold, but form part of a dream dreamt by the poet Torhthelm:
`It's dark! It's dark! and
Is no light left us? A light kindle,
and fan the flame! Lo! Fire now wakens,
hearth is burning, house is lighted,
men there gather. Out of the mists they come
through darkling doors whereat doom waiteth.
Hark! I hear them in the hall chanting:
stern words they sing with strong voices.
"Heart shall be bolder, harder be purpose,
more proud the spirit as our power lessens!
Mind shall not falter nor mood waver,
though doom shall come and dark conquer,"'
© 1996-2011 Ronald Branscombe
Email: genealogy (at) branscombe (dot) netNorthumberland
 Hippisley-Cox, The Green Roads of England, p.68
 Jones & Mattingly, An Atlas of Roman Britain
 M A Cole and N T Linford, Report on the Geophysical Survey at Woodbury Farm, English Heritage Ancient Monuments Laboratory report number: 88/93, 1994. Source, April 2011: http://www.eng-h.gov.uk/reports/axminster/
 Jones & Mattingly, An Atlas of Roman Britain
 ibid., p.153
 one of those is the combe in Branscombe
 Barfield, History in English Words, pp.45-46
 Scott & Gray, pp 4-5
 ‘Wolfpaw’ blog Demolition Exeter – a century of destruction in an English cathedral city. Source April 2011: http://demolition-exeter.blogspot.com/2011_01_01_archive.html
 Fox, p.3
 Which? Guide to the West Country, p.114
 Hod Hill is a long way from Axmouth!
 Hengistbury Head,Dorset?
 Encyclopaedia Brittanica, Vol.8, p.538
 Elijah Chick, The Parish & Church of Branscombe, p.18
 head-shaving styles
 E.B. Vol.5, 1966, p.148
 location uncertain,but possibly near
 E.B. Vol.5, 1966, p.148
 Izacke, Remarkable Antiquities ...
 later to become
 ibid., p.220
 Finberg, The
 George P.R. Pulman, Local Nomenclature (1857), p.129
 Finberg, The
 Finberg, The
 Polwhele, History of Devonshire Vol II, p.236
 George P.R. Pulman, Local Nomenclature (1857), p.56
 Philip Durkin, Principal etymologist at the Oxford
English Dictionary, http://www.askoxford.com/worldofwords/history/?view=uk
 A History of Northumberland, 1922, p.104
 Mawer, The Place-names of Northumberland & Durham, 1920
 Finberg, The
 Rowling, p.18
 Rowling, p.11
 Rowling, p.12
 Hippisley Cox, p.67
 Which? Guide to the West Country, p.114
 Tony Bellows <http://www.societe-jersiaise.org/whitsco/index.html>
 Shippey, The Road to Middle-Earth, p.118