Monday, January 24, 2011

The Kingdom of Elmet

Historical fiction writer Carla Nayland researches the lost British kingdom.
Bede specifically mentions Elmet once in his Ecclesiastical History:
A basilica was built at the royal residence of Campodunum, but this, together with all the buildings of the residence, was burned by the pagans who killed King Edwin and later kings replaced this seat by another in the vicinity of Loidis. The stone altar of this church survived the fire and is preserved in the monastery that lies in Elmet Wood and is ruled by the most reverend priest and abbot Thrydwulf.
--Bede, Ecclesiastical History, Book II ch.15

Loidis is modern Leeds. The site of Campodunum is uncertain. The two leading candidates are Doncaster and Slack, near Huddersfield, both the sites of Roman towns or forts. The Roman name of Doncaster, Danum, could be related to the second element of Bede’s name Campodunum. Both are within the boundaries of Elmet as suggested above. Bede uses the name Elmet not as the name of a region or province, but as the name of a forest, Elmet Wood. This may indicate that the name Elmet could refer to a specific locality, possibly part of a larger territory.

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