Why Grateley? Reflections on Anglo-Saxon Kingship in a Hampshire Landscape

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Why Grateley? Reflections on Anglo-Saxon Kingship in a Hampshire Landscape

By Ryan Lavelle

Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club and Archaeological Society, Vol. 60 (2005)

Abstract: This paper focuses on the context of the promulgation of the first ‘national’ lawcode of King Athelstan at Grateley (c.925×30; probably 926×7). A localised context allows a consideration of the arrangements of the royal resources which supplied the Anglo-Saxon ‘national’ assembly, the witangemot. In so doing, the paper looks at royal estate organisation in Andover hundred in northwestern Hampshire, making a case for the significance of Andover itself. Finally, the role of the landscape in the political ritual of lawmaking is discussed.




Introduction: This paper addresses the exercise of Anglo-Saxon kingship, manifested in land organisation in the hundred of Andover. For the most part, the area under discussion is an undulating chalk downland landscape to which some distinctive character may be ascribed. It is dominated by pasture and the River Anton and its tributary, the Pilhill Brook. Field names indicate that the area was formerly characterised by woodland; indeed in the twelfth century the region was part of the Forest of Chute, which may have had pre-Conquest origins.

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Sharan Newman