& the Isle of Ely

The Vikings 850-1066

Note: All entries in this colour cover other areas as well as Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely and can be regarded as general historic information.




The Vikings


The Viking invasion was sudden and overwhelming once again the Jutland invaders using the fenland rivers as a source of fast transport.


858 A.D.

Ethelwulf King of England died; Ethelbald & Ethelbert become joint Kings of England.


860 A.D.

Ethelbald King of England died and Ethelbert became the sole King of England.


865 A.D.

Norse invade East Anglia.


866 A.D.

First major incursion into the area by Halfdan, Ingvar and Ubba, sons of Ragnar Lodbrok. Organised campaign of plunder, their armies were reinforced each spring by new men from Denmark.

Ethelbert King of England died and Ethelred I became King of England.


870 A.D.

The great battle of Thetford finally overwhelmed the East Anglian resistance.


871 A.D.

Ethelred I died and Alfred became King of England.


875 A.D.

New wave of Vikings arrived under Guthrum and Oscytel establishing themselves in Cambridge before striking south-west against Wessex. At the peace of Wedmore, Cambridgeshire became part of Danelaw.

150 years of war ensued.


901 A.D.

King Alfred the Great of England died and Edward the Elder became King of England


905 A.D.

Edward the Elder of Wessex entered the county, overunning large areas of Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely up to the fenlands.


921 A.D.

The English complete the reconquest of East Anglia. peace reigns until the advent of Ethelred.

Army of Cambridgeshire swear loyalty to Edward the Elder separately from other East Anglian forces. The county town acquired its own defences (burh), courts, guild, market and mint sometime after this. The settlement broke from the Roman enclave on Castle Hill into the market area, with outlying villages at Barnwell and Girton; the population rose to around 1,600 making it one of East Anglia's largest cities.


925 A.D.

King Edward the Elder of England died and Athelstan became King of England


940 A.D.

King Athelstan of England died and Edmund became King of England


946 A.D.

King Edmund of England died and Edred became King of England


955 A.D.

Edred King of England died and Edwy became King of England


958 A.D.

Edwy King of England died and Edgar became King of England


958-975 A.D.

The abbeys that had been previously ransacked by the Danes were re-established by Edgar in greater number and estate. The new foundations included Ramsey and Chatteris. Ely was re-established in 974.


973 A.D.

Edgar orders striking of silver penny; Edgar crowned 'Emperor of Britain' at Bath


974 A.D.

The Isle of Ely becomes a legal unit. This means that this is an area over which the abbot has exclusive jurisdiction. This effectively splits Cambridgeshire into two units, Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely.


8 Jul 975 A.D.

Edgar's reign over England ends.


976 A.D.

Edward becomes King of England.


18 Mar 978 A.D.

Edward's reign over England ends.


14 Apr 978 A.D.

Athelred II becomes King of England.


991 A.D.

Spirited defence of Maldon stops Danes.


13 Nov 1002 A.D.

Danes massacred in England.


1004 A.D.

East Anglia spared from Danes by a major victory.


1010 A.D.

Battle of Ringmere, near Thetford, Danes win East Anglia and start major moves into the fens, plundering, looting and killing.


Dec 1013 A.D.

London surrenders to Danes.


1016 A.D.

Six major battles take place between the Danish king Canute (Cnut) and Ethelred's son, Edmund Ironside, the last being at Assandun (possibly Ashdon). Canute's victory led to undisputed control over England. Hadstock minster church built on battle site by Canute.

Although under Danish rule only two places retain Danish names, Toft and Bourne.


Apr 1016 A.D.

Athelred II's reign of England ends.


May 1016 A.D.

Edmund Ironside becomes King of England.


30 Nov 1016 A.D.

Edmund Ironside's reign of England ends.


1 Dec 1016 A.D.

Canute (Cnut) becomes King of England.


1016-66 A.D.

Anglo-Danish monarchy established Ely as a rival to Bury St Edmunds as the foremost abbey and shrine in East Anglia. Edward the Confessor, and other royal children, were educated here. The abbots were great nobles, intimately connected with the fortunes of the monarchy.


12 Nov 1035 A.D.

Canute's (Cnut) reign of England ends.


Dec 1037 A.D.

Harald 'Harefoot' becomes King of England.


17 Mar 1040 A.D.

Harald 'Harefoot' s reign of England ends.


18 Mar 1040 A.D.

Harthacnut becomes King of England.


8 Jun 1042 A.D.

Harthacnut' s reign of England ends.


2 Apr 1043 A.D.

Edward the Confessor becomes King of England.


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