Aspects of Anglo-Saxon history in the East Midlands, with special reference to the lower Soar Valley


This thesis illustrates features of Anglo-Saxon settlement in the valley of the river Soar, Leicestershire, between the northern limit of Leicester and the river Trent, herein called the lower Soar valley. It is a poorly attested area in documentary and archaeological evidence, and the place-name evidence presents difficulties of interpretation. These circumstances determine the methods employed and the structure of the thesis, which is in three parts.;Part One examines the pre-Conquest evidence for the area: an appropriate regional context is sought, firstly by examining the Anglo-Saxon history of the purely conceptual region of the East Midlands, and secondly by examining the Iron Age and Romano-British history of the area. Thus, it is hoped, an appropriate regional context is established, geographically and historically. The archaeological evidence for the early Anglo-Saxon settlement of the lower Soar valley is next considered, its value assessed, and some tentative conclusions formed about the organisation of settlement in the area. Documentation of the lower Soar valley during the Anglo-Saxon period is minimal, and the attempt is made to illuminate its history from developments in the neighbouring, better documented valley of the rivers Tame and Mease.;Part Two, which examines the post-Conquest evidence, employs retrospective analysis to illustrate the history of the lower Soar valley from a later, better documented period. Domesday Book, the Leicestershire Survey of 1129-30, the Rothley custumal of c.1245 and the Hospitallers Extent of 1338 are adduced. The Norman magnates holdings in the lower Soar valley appear to be arranged transversely, including land in the forest to the west, in the valley itself, and in the wolds to the east. This practice was also followed by the Anglo-Saxon lords. The 'mixed bag' of lands, vills and private jurisdictions presented by the Domesday survey of Leicestershire contrasts with the accounts of Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire, where a hundredal system distinct from the Danish system of wapentakes can be traced. In Leicestershire, instead of a recognisable jurisdictional, administrative and economic system controlled by royal officers, a patchwork of private jurisdictions existed, its organisation and economy determined by unregulated entrepreneurism.






Rollings, Anthony, “Aspects of Anglo-Saxon history in the East Midlands, with special reference to the lower Soar Valley,” Centre for Regional and Local History Theses and Papers, accessed April 16, 2024,