Viking Revenge
Winteringham Massacre November 1012

Winteringham Local History and Genealogy

The Winteringham Massacre 12th November 1012

This account has been compiled from many different sources.  Even so, after 1,000 years many of the details are extremely sketchy, and may have been embellished over the years as the story has been passed down in local lore!

To understand why Winteringham suffered so badly at the hands of the Vikings (or Danes as they were called later), we need some background .... going back even further!  After the Romans had left, our area was settled by Angles and Saxons, and in particular, possibly by Wintra, the first King of Lindsey, and his followers, from which the village may have gained its name.

Later, the Vikings would raid all around the coast of the British Isles, starting shortly before the end of the 8th century, and continuing for several decades before they began over-wintering in Britain in the 850s, and from then it was natural that they looked to conquer their new “home.”  However, King Alfred was able to rid parts of England of the incomers, and resist their attempts to reconquer it - and his sons and grandsons finally defeated the Vikings in England at the Battle of Brunaburgh* in 937.

There now followed a generation of peace across England, though the last Viking King, Eric Bloodaxe, wasn’t expelled from Northumbria until 954.  However, the Kingdom of England now comprised “Englishmen, Danes and Britons.”

Ethelred II, who later gained the nickname “the Unready” started his long reign in 978.  Unfortunately for Ethelred, the start of his reign also coincided with the emergence of Denmark as a leading power under Harald Bluetooth, and the dawn of “the Second Viking Age.”

Viking raids returned to England’s shores, with the specific aim of extortion.  The Danes would return home, only once a very large sum of money was paid to them for doing so.  This “Danegeld” rapidly increased each time a large co-ordinated raid took place.  Ethelred seemed unable to resist the raids, but the last straw came when he heard rumours that he was to be murdered by the Danes, and they would take over his Kingdom.  He therefore ordered all Danes living within England to be murdered on St Brice’s Day and the evening before - 12th/13th November 1002.

According to some sources, Winteringham was particularly involved in the logistics of this massacre - a fact the Danes never forgot!

The raids continued, the Danegeld continued to be paid .... and on the tenth anniversary the Danes extracted a bloody revenge on Winteringham for its part in the massacre of 1002!  On the night of Thursday 12th/13th November, a large party of raiders landed at Winteringham and “the streets flowed with blood,” as men were put to the sword, and women and children carried off.  Undoubtedly, any valuables would also be taken, houses burned, and stored crops destroyed.  By the time the boats left, more than half the villagers were dead or had been taken prisoner, and Winteringham left in a sorry state.

The following year, Sweyn Forkbeard, King of Denmark since 1000, sailed up the Humber, passed Winteringham, and on to Gainsborough, where the people of Lindsey bowed to him and accepted him as their King.  His son Cnut completed the conquering of England by 1016.


*The Battle of Brunaburgh took place at an unknown location, which MAY have been in our area of Lincolnshire, and MAY have had some involvement with Winteringham.


Have you tried the other Winteringham Websites?
Winteringham News, Don Burton World of Nature Photo Archive (modern photographs of the village), What the Papers have said about Winteringham (since July 2004), High Resolution Historical Photographs, Winteringham Film Archive, Winteringham Nature Site, Winteringham Recipes, Winteringham Camera Club, Winteringham Village Hall, Winteringham Chapel


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