Boundaries, Law and Governance
: The Landscape of the Danelaw Boundary

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Abstract

The initial purpose of the Danelaw Boundary in the late 9th century may have been to create a peace agreement between Kings Alfred and Guthrum, but its role for continuity of trade must also to be taken into consideration. The purpose of the Boundary is both complex and contradictory, not merely because of its disputed position within the topographical landscape, but also the way in which it relates to the legal culture of the time. The intricate nature of the Boundary and the difficulties this raises appear to resonate with the wider discourse on Early Medieval boundaries where many uncertainties about the use of territorial borders and the methodology employed to examine them persist. Yet the Danelaw Boundary provides a valuable insight into an interconnection between boundaries, the law and, to a wider degree, governance. This thesis will explore the nature of the relationships the Danelaw Boundary had with the law and Anglo-Saxon governance employing both a hybrid theoretical and practical approach. The route and date of the Danelaw Boundary will also be discussed, and, in addition, Kernel density heat maps will be employed to explore whether the Danelaw Boundary was an open border, particularly with regard to trade. The Boundary’s influence on the development of Early English governance will be examined through the various extant law codes, and as an extension to this, the implications for potential legacy. In conclusion, whilst there is evidence to suggest the Boundary had a legal legacy – and was perhaps even re-used – at present this is not yet substantial enough to challenge the existing view that the Danelaw Boundary was short-lived.
Date of Award21 Jan 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorMark C Horton (Supervisor), Stuart J Prior (Supervisor) & Joanna M Bruck (Supervisor)

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