The Thegns have been proud to be involved, this year, in helping St Luke's Church to communicate and promote Cannock's rich history as part of their 900-year anniversary celebrations.
As part of this effort, the Thegns were commissioned to produce a special reconstruction to mark the 900 year anniversary.
Although the earliest mention of the settlement of Cannock, by name, in historical documents appears in the late 11th century Domesday Book (then referred to as 'Chenet') an earlier and extremely locally significant document makes explicit and detailed reference to the area. Charter S1380 marks the transfer of a large area of land from Lady Wulfrun (earlier granted to her from a pre-existing royal estate) to the church at Hamton (now Wolverhampton) in the late 10th century.
This important piece of local history was chosen to be reproduced for St Luke's by the skilled hand of Thegns-of-Mercia and English Companions member Harry Ball; a specialist in Anglo-Saxon texts and their reproduction with authentic techniques.
Although the charter's authenticity has been questioned, it does refer to a real event, and the boundaries described are from a genuine pre-Conquest survey. However, as the form in which the text comes down to us is itself a copy-of-a-copy (produced by the 17th century antiquarian Dugdale) the original form of the charter is not known.
With reference to other, more provenanced charters (including, in particular, the contemporary charter S878 for nearby Abbots Bromley) Harry has reproduced the relevant parts of the charter (the overview, description of the bounds of the Hatherton parish, and the witness list) in insular minuscule script handwritten by quill on high-quality sheepskin parchment, producing a result close to how the original may have looked when it was first produced.
In Christ. This be the land boundary that Wulfrun has done into the minster of Hamton*, and the town names that this privilege about speaks. First from Arley and Ashwood and Bilston and Willenhall and Wednesfield and Pelsall and Ogley** and Hilton and Hatherton and Kinvaston and the other Hilton and Featherstone.
This is the boundary of Hatherton. First from Sarebrook ford on to the hollow way, and from the way onto the long street***, and from the street to the boundary hedge ford. Along hedge to three boundaries, and from three boundaries to Ethelwey's hedge on to the open field on to the low and thence to the ditch at the shaw, along ditches at the valley against the mast oak. Along the valley, up on the river and eastward to the valley, after the valley on to the white stanes. And then on the street that shoots from the miry place, along the street by the enclosure hedge. After the street in to the white ditch, after the ditch on to the white nook, and there on to the brook. Along the brook and then in Sarebrook even further along the brook again to the ford, which hither from went.
And many good men also with these both ecclesiastics and laymen. ****
** Ogley - Now known as Ogley Hay -nearest known settlement from Anglo-Saxon times to the find-site of the 7th century Staffordshire Hoard.
*** Long Street - Phrase usually used in relation to old Roman roads, and in this case almost certainly referring to Watling Street, now the A5.
**** The copy of the charter from which this replica is based included a further 26 additional witness names, which are glossed here using this familiar phrase borrowed from charter S1459.