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Topic: The River Dibbin

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The River Dibbin

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I read somewhere that the Vikings when invading the Wirral came up the River Dibbin from the Mersey. Is that true do you think? It must have been much deeper and wider then than it was when I was a kid and used to paddle in it up by Bromborough woods. Did they come from Ireland?  I believe Dublin was a Viking stronghold.



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Dear Ruby
Yes you are absolutely right, the Vikings did come to Wirral and in large numbers, and many would have come from Ireland after being expelled from there after a major battle in AD902.  According to ancient Irish annals, backed up by Welsh and other sources their leader - Ingimund - struck a deal with the Queen of the English, Aethelflaed (daughter of Alfred the Great) - to settle in lands near Chester - Wirral.  The distribution of the many Scandinavian named places indicates that the main enclave was in the north and west of the peninsula with boundary at Raby (old Norse "boundary settlement") running to Ness/Neston westwards and northwards along the River Dibbin to Tranmere - another Norse name.
At the centre of the enclave was their place of assembly or parliament at Thingwall (one of only two definite Thingwall place names in England - the other across the Mersey near Knotty Ash). 

The Dibbin is considered to have been navigable in Viking times - according to local ranger Peter Miller who is very knowledgable on the Dibbin in the past - and of course Bromborough is strongly connected with the battle of Brunanburh, one of the most important battles in the history of the British Isles.  The Vikings coming from Ireland probably though came into Wirral along the north coast, in and around Meols, rather than along the Dibbin.
If you're interested I have a web page with a number of links you may find interesting (including Brunanburh):
http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/-sczsteve
All best
Steve Harding

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Steve Harding NCMH Laboratory University of Nottingham LE12 5RD http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/-sczsteve
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Thank you Steve. The history of the Wirral is facinating. Thank you for the links. I will follow them up. Thurstaston and Thingwall have a Viking'feel' don't you think? I didn't know about Knotty Ash but it's reasonable to assume if they were in Wirral they would be over the water in Lancashire too.  They seem to have been well established in Southern Ireland but what about the North? I have catholic O'Brien connections right on the border and  protestant Fletcher -Irish /Scot- connections in the North. What a volatile mix!

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Thanks Ruby, your story reminds me of the nice Spinners song (or a song the Spinners sang) "The orange and the green!"
The main concentrations of Vikings in Ireland appear to be in the south rather than the north - Dublin, Wexford, Waterford, Cork and Limerick were major bases. Wood Quay/Temple Bar in Dublin appears to have been their main base, certainly from all the archaeological finds there of the old Viking settlement (the museum is definitely worth a visit!) but also Woodstown in Waterford has been attracting a lot of recent interest .
When the Vikings came into Wirral a lot of Irish folks are believed to have come with them, and we have Irish place names like Liscard, Noctorum, and the old Norse "Irby" either means "settlement or farmstead of the Irish" or "settlement of Norsemen coming from Ireland". In Irby we have a field name "Heskeths" (there is another in Thornton Hough) - which comes from old Norse "horse race track" and thats a nice coincidence because we all know how famous Ireland is today for horse-racing.
Many of the Viking men - including Ingimund - probably had Irish wives.
All best
Steve

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Steve Harding NCMH Laboratory University of Nottingham LE12 5RD http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/-sczsteve
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.. whoops sorry Ruby I forgot to say the Church of St. Bridgets which gives West Kirby its name (Kirkby - the settlement at/with the Church) is named after one of the patron saints of Ireland. There is nothing left of the old Norse church building that would have once there ... apart from the magnicient hogback tombstone (one of two on Wirral) and remnants of Viking ring headed cross in the Charles Dawson Brown museum - again worth a visit if you haven't seen these!
One of the stain glass windows in the Church has a depiction of St.Olaf (Olave), Patron Saint of Norway.
Steve

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Steve Harding NCMH Laboratory University of Nottingham LE12 5RD http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/-sczsteve
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Stev! My family and I watched a very interesting documentory on the making of Scotland last Sunday. We were all delighted when the topic of the huge battle fought at Brununburgh actually came up! The Picts,Vikings,Gaels and Celts put up a brave resistance with terrible loss of life. Incredible to think they all forgot their differences and stood together to defend their land. We'll all be watching the next episode! Margaret

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Its a marvellous broadcast and I think Neil Oliver put this across very effectively and with a great deal of passion. He is a very good presenter.
You can see it again on BBC's web site:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/history/early_scotland/
and click on the link to the Battle of Brunanburh.
I wrote this piece which is appearing in a large book about the Battle next year, concerning the posisble location on Wirral for the battle:
http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/-sczsteve/Brunanburh_LocationsChapter_May09.pdf
With my colleague at Nottingham, Dr. Paul Cavill - who is probably the leading expert on the Battle, we are also writing a popular book about it which should hopefully be out later next year.

Best wishes
Steve

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I followed this in here via google after looking up the Dibbin. Someone contacted me on my own site about wirral trying to find out the actual course of the Dibbin in days gone by. I also would tell Ruby that I bought an excellent book, at the Jorvik Centre in York, not so long back, called Viking Mersey, Scandinavian Wirral, West Lancs and Chester by Stephen Harding of all people. Thanks Steve, a beautiful book.

As a former Wirral resident from 1950 to 1981, I have always been interested in local history and have developed my own site on the subject, mainly North Wirral though. What I didn't know much about was the Viking connection, so am about to start reading Stephens book.

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Lovely to hear from you Redevil! I was born and brought up in the Wirral-Oh place of happy memories. Went to Australia in 1965 with my Husband and 5 of our 7 children. I still call Wirral my home. My Husband and I used to have a holiday in the U.K. every 2 or 3 years. Jorvik is so incredible! What do you think of the village of Shotwick? That was another of our regular destinations. Such atmosphere! One year my Husband and I did an in depth walk around Bromborough Village finding all the remnants of ancient places. Farms,houses, even stone gate posts etc. Sad reminders of days gone by. The Village has changed so much now. I find it hard to recognise the places of my childhood. The Bradmore field which we were told was part of the huge battle site is now a carpark I think. How many of the present day children realize its history? My head master was Arthur Oakes a keen historian who gave me my love of history.
Cheers! Ruby.

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Never been to Shotwick? Will look it up soonest. I was dragged up screaming and kicking in Moreton, but my wife lived in Allport Road



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Dear Red Devil.  Many thanks for the comments about the Viking Mersey book. I hope you enjoy it.  I too am an exile, being a resident from 1955 until 1971.  I too spent my first few years in Moreton (off Chapelhill Road and then Lingham near the shore) before we moved to Overchurch in 1960.  My Mum's side of the family (the Whartons) have been Mortonians for very many generations.  Many good memories,
Steve



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Steve Harding NCMH Laboratory University of Nottingham LE12 5RD http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/-sczsteve
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Steve - I knew a Margaret (Mickey) Wharton. Memories are vague but she must be about the same age as me (61).

PS sent you an email about your book (Mike)

I actually left Moreton in 71

-- Edited by red devil on Thursday 10th of March 2011 07:36:55 PM

-- Edited by red devil on Thursday 10th of March 2011 07:38:56 PM

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Two quick questions. First, I hear that a Viking hogsback tomb was found at Bidston church. I was a choirboy myself there in the '60s, and the churchyard was always wonderfully romantic - though I gather the thing was actually found at the vicarage, which was further down school lane - and not all that old, as I recall. Does anyone have any further information?

Second (river-related) question: old maps show the Wirral as a semi-island, with a river somewhere up near Chester cutting right across the peninsula; one end draining into the Mersey, and the other into the Dee. It seems to have disappeared from the maps by about 1700, and I can't find any trace of it today (I live in Thailand, so I'm not in a position to go looking!). Does anyone know anything about this 'lost' river? Was it incorporated into the Elllesmere Canal, or something?

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Woops! Wrong thread...


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Two quick questions. First, I hear that a Viking hogsback tomb was found at Bidston church. I was a choirboy myself there in the '60s, and the churchyard was always wonderfully romantic - though I gather the thing was actually found at the vicarage, which was further down school lane - and not all that old, as I recall. Does anyone have any further information?

Second (river-related) question: old maps show the Wirral as a semi-island, with a river somewhere up near Chester cutting right across the peninsula; one end draining into the Mersey, and the other into the Dee. It seems to have disappeared from the maps by about 1700, and I can't find any trace of it today (I live in Thailand, so I'm not in a position to go looking!). Does anyone know anything about this 'lost' river? Was it incorporated into the Elllesmere Canal, or something?

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Dear Winward
Many thanks for this. Yes indeed in Wirral we have two Viking hogbacks, one at St. Bridgets Church West Kirby, found in the 19th century and dated to around AD1000 and the other - a much smaller one and dating from a little earlier - found only a few years ago by Mr. Peter Crawford. It was identified as a Viking hogback by local amateur archaeologist Jenny Whalley and an expert on medieval stonework at the University of Newcastle, Richard Bailey who according to a report in the Wirral Globe described it as one of the most impressive finds he has ever seen. There is a link to the 2004 article here: https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/-sczsteve/Globe_23Jun04.JPG
More evidence that Wirral is a Viking "hotspot"! There was a mistake in the article though - the discovery did not confirm that Vikings appeared earlier than previously thought and certainly not 500 years!

2nd question about the semi-island there is an old map dating from not long after 1700 on my own web page
http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/-sczsteve, but maybe other bloggers can help re: the construction of the canal?

Best wishes
Steve


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Thanks for the reply. Yes, I noticed the map on your site, which is one reason I asked - I saw this map (or one very like it) years ago, but the Dee branch of the river doesn't seem to appear on other maps of about the same vintage. I did wonder if it was some sort of tidal feature - presumably the relative water levels in the Dee and Mersey go in and out of sync all the time, given the narrow mouth / wide hinterland of the Mersey. Probably not...

Incidentally, I notice that my surname appears on the list of names being sought for the latest iteration of the genealogical project at Nottingham / Leicester. I did offer to post some epithelial cells from Thailand, but have had no reply so far...

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