Anglo-Saxon/Danelaw (410–1066)

500-671 AD. The local Anglo-Saxons were, like the rest of Britain, pagan. Their religion was based on nature gods and burials from this period show bodies buried in a North-South orientation, together with their belongings like this broach. The tweezers and comb show that personal hygiene, though perhaps not all that we would expect today, was still very important.

664 AD. During this period the Christian Church was sending missionaries to evangelise Britain. From Ireland, to Scotland and down from the North of England came the Celtic Church. Pope Gregory, according to legend, on seeing some blonde haired, blue eyed child slaves in the market place in Rome, asked where they were from. When he was told they were Angles, he replied, “Not Angles, but angels”. Following this he sent for Augustine and in 597 AD Saint Augustine arrived in Kent and so the Roman Catholic Church spread northwards. Finally, the differences between the two versions of Christianity proved a barrier to collaboration and so a council was held at Whitby in 664 AD to finally sort it out. The outcome was that the Roman Catholic traditions would be the pattern for Christianity in Britain.

670 AD. Penda, the King of Mercia, the kingdom in which Melton Mowbray was situated, finally gave in to the Christian missionaries and was baptised. His kingdom seems to have followed his lead as the burial site found on the Scalford Road contained 50 skeletons all with their feet facing East, towards Jerusalem, ready for Jesus Christ’s return. Buried with the bodies were beads, shields, spears and one burial had a long sword. This sword would have belonged to a local Chieftain as it represented his rank as well as being a weapon. He would have inspected it closely when he received it from the swordsmith.

700-800 AD The Danes overran this area but surprisingly little physical remains have been found. The small round broach is typical of the style of decoration liked by the Danish Vikings who held this area during the Danelaw period. Most villages around the Borough have echoes of this time in their names, ‘by’ (as in Asfordby) and ‘Thorpe’ (as in Thorpe Satchville) are both of Danish origin.

1042-66 AD. During the reign of Edward the Confessor the last Saxon King of England, Melton Mowbray was granted the right to hold a market.

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