Thursday, May 21, 2009

Of sokes, wapentakes and hundreds

Here's "" @ 20:19 responding to a thread on conservativehome:
I am a 'nationalist'. My nationality is English with a footprint back to the Wapentake of Domesday and beyond. I am more Anglo-Saxon than a Saxon bloke from Angloshire with a really big shield saying Battle of Senlac Hill Home Match 1066.

A namesake died in the Charge of the Light Brigade and my family fought for Cromwell as part of a Leveller regiment.

But I would sooner vote BNP than pot roast my genitals not because I think that the BNP is the personification of Neo-Nazi Evil but because they play to hate not to hope.
When Malcolm unscrambled that (it seems to be missing a negative and a pair of helpful quoatation marks), he:
  • quite enjoyed the touch of humour;
  • recognised the sentiments; and
  • felt a pang of envy.
For he has been looking for an opportunity properly to use (and he is less than certain that it is used quite correctly there) words like "wapentake" and "wayzgoose".

When Malcolm's dear old Dad lived and voted in the Claro Ward of Harrogate, North Yorkshire, the locality took its name from such a wapentake. Cue the OED:
A subdivision of certain English shires, corresponding to the ‘hundred’ of other counties.

The shires which had divisions so termed were Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Notts, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, and Leicestershire; in all of which the Danish element in the population was large. In Derbyshire there was latterly only one wapentake (that of Wirksworth), the other divisions of the shire being termed ‘hundreds’. In Lincolnshire most of the county divisions were ‘wapentakes’, but a few were called ‘hundreds’ and ‘sokes’. Traces of the existence of the term remained in popular use in other counties, as Cheshire and Cumberland into the 20th cent.
Now, there's Malcolm's point of issue with "". The word derives from Old Norse, and would literally mean "weapon-taking". The assumption is that the assembly approved of a decision by a show of weapons, just as later generations would agree a vote by a show of hands. Yes, we are that close to our distant ancestors.

Yet, it is a term which belongs specifically to those parts of (take your historical pick):
Ænglaland, Anglaland, Englalond, Ængleland, Englaland, Englæland, Engleland, Aenglelond, Englalande, Englelond, Englelonde, Anglenelonde, Engleneloande, Englenelond, Englenelonde, Ængeland, Eangelond, Engelande, Engelond, Engelonde, Enguelonde, Enkelonde, Ingelond, Ingelonde, Inglond, Inglonde, Yngelond, Englond, Englonde, Ingeland, Ynglond, Englande, Ingland, England, Eingland, Eyngland, Yngellond, Inglant, Englone, Engelande, Englande, Englonde, Ingland, Inglande, Yngland, Ynglande, Ynglond, England
where, following the Treaty of Wedmore (AD878), Danelaw applied. That is, the area north and east of Watling Street, where the law of the Danes (rather than the code of the Saxons) applied. Which suggests that "" might have a touch of the fjords about him, and not the true, the pure, the undefiled Anglo-Saxon.

As if it mattered

What this does remind Malcolm is the essential fallacy of that "British" thing, so beloved of the BNP and other weirdo extremists. So, let's resort yet again to the OED:
Briton (noun and adjective):
A member of one of the Brittonic-speaking peoples originally inhabiting all of Britain south of the Firth of Forth, and in later times spec. Strathclyde, Wales, Cornwall, and Brittany, before and during the Roman occupation.
Got that? You're not a true Brit (and "Brett" and "Britt" have some two millenia of usage behind them) unless you have impeccable Celtic ancestry. Ironically, then, all those Ulsterfolk, of both persuasions, are more likely to be entitled to call themselves "British" than the mere Anglo-Saxons of the Home Counties. That, of course, ignores the recent DNA evidence that the genetic make-up of English, Scots and Irish is remarkably similar: only in the Orkneys and Shetlands does the Norse line run more true.

A good night out?

Now all Malcolm requires is a congenial group of journeymen-printers, well financed by their Master, for a booze-up around St Bartholomew's Day (August 24th). Then he could report here on a wayzgoose (or, as the OED suggests, more properly a "way-goose").

He might be hung-over; but he would have fulfilled the ambition to employ that word.

And on a different topic

Prompted by that passing mention of Bartholomewtide, Malcolm hastens to add a bit of reading.

Last Saturday, deserted by his lovely lady, Malcolm betook himself to Highgate for a solitary pint (or two). Never one willingly to pass a book-shop, he entered the Oxfam shop on the High Street. All the usual stuff, with a few titillating exceptions.

Since Malcolm already had Patterson on The Lough Swilly Railway (albeit, now a very tattered copy), he passed up on that.

Now, what's this from the fiction shelves?

It's a Hunter Steele: The Lords of Montplaisir, in a Scottish publication (which, presumably, came before the Macmillan edition).

Steele is a year or three younger than Malcolm, and did some good work in the late 70s (The Wishdoctor's Song) and 80s. Look out for a delightful variation on the usual in Lord Hamlet's Castle.

This one comes from late in that period. It's big, but not cumbersome, plays games with time sequences, has a (nearly) predictable love-interest plot, melodramatic villains, roistering sexuality, and a thoroughly-researched background in sixteenth-century France. Dumas would have been prepared to adopt it as a racier and more readable addition to his own oeuvre. Since one of the grim bits involves the St Balthomomew's Day massacre of the Huguenots, that's the connection with "wayzgoose".

Now that's on its way to join the other Steele novels on the fiction shelves of Redfellow Hovel, Malcolm reckons that was a good two-quid's worth. Sphere: Related Content

1 comment:

Robert said...

Well spotted. I am outed as a Dane. The family is Lincolnshire born and bred with a vaguely stately pile named for it and a grotty street in Boston.


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