Anglo-Saxon and early Norman Cambridge

Roman <- Time Thread -> Twelfth Century
Index<- Introduction -> Origin of Cambridge University
One settlement was on the ruins of the Romano-British town and called Grantaceastr in the seventh century. Its name of The Old Borough survived to modern times. A burh was an Anglo-Saxon defended settlement. King Alfred (871 - 899) created a network of them to defend against the Vikings.

The other settlement was on the lower ground south and east of the river, centred roughly in the St Benet church area. They were united under Mercian rule as a port called Grantabrycge in the ninth century. The Anglo-Saxon bridge was probably built by King Offa (756 - 793).

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records that after the great Danish army wintered in Repton in 873/4, part of it came to Grantebrycge led by the kings Godrum, Oscytel and Anwynd. They'd passed through in 870 but this time stayed a whole year.

A few years later it came under Danish rule, which lasted 40 years. During this time the town acquired various Scandinavian features such as government by "lawmen" and a lasting aversion to outside interference. The Danes settled mainly to the south of modern Quayside, in the Holm, as indicated by the dedication of St Clement's church there - common in Danish settlements. They are also described as Irish merchants so may have originated from the Viking port of Dublin.

In 921 the town swore allegiance to the English king (Edward the Elder), which subsequently helped earn it recognition as the county town. The town minted coins from the tenth century until the Conquest.

There was a final visit of looting and burning by the Danes in 1010.

With its good trading links to the Continent and a market, Cambridge became prosperous. The Great Bridge (now Magdalene Bridge) was the last river crossing downriver to the mouth at King's Lynn. Merchants founded St Benet's Church about 1025. The churches from modern St John's Street to King's Parade probably were all founded before 1066 and by merchants in this area, above the main docks.

The first Norman Sheriff Picot treated the place (then known as Cantebrigge or Grentebrige) as his own, knocking down 27 houses to build a castle (probably of wood), seizing land, building mills and raising taxes. However his wife persuaded him to found St Giles Church just below the castle, which grew to become Barnwell Priory.

Various religious orders and hospitals became established, such as Leper Hospital and the Hospital of St John.

Domesday Book entry

This set out to compare property ownership and population before 1066 and in 1086.

The Burgum de Grentebrige was a Hundred - the subdivision of a county of roughly a hundred households (also known as wapentakes - weapon-takes - in the Danelaw). In the borough there were ten wards before 1066 but two were merged for the survey as 27 houses had been destroyed for the castle.
DwellingsDerelictPaying no duesRemarks
54218The ward in the castle area; various Norman noblemen and their tenant burgesses are mentioned
48213Another Norman mentioned; Bridge ward
45240Abbot of Ely had a church, probably St Botolph's
3703Frenchmen are the non-payers
3701A priest is the non-payer
It goes on to record some of the demands made by Sheriff Picot:

Picot also had a lot of land in the rest of the county.

The Isle of Ely, including the area up to Wisbech, was a separate county.

Roman <- Time Thread -> Twelfth Century
Index<- Introduction -> Origin of Cambridge University
Cambridge : History