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The Romney Marsh origin of being ‘scot free’….

Romney Marsh
from Daily Telegraph, photo Clara Molden

The following paragraph is extracted from the Rye Museum :-

“….The river (which we know as the Rother) made its way south east from Appledore across the marsh to an outfall into the sea at New Romney; by the 12th century this marsh river was converted into a canal 6 miles (9.7 km) long to Old Romney. The 13th century was remarkable for a series of storms accompanied possibly by a rise in sea level. The first was in 1236 followed in 1250 when the town and port of Old Winchelsea were overwhelmed; there was a temporary recovery until it finally succumbed in the storm of 1287 by which time the new town of Winchelsea on the hill of Iham was being colonised….”

And so Dymchurch Wall was built. Romney Marsh is generally below sea level, and has long been protected from inundation by the old wall, but today I learned that this ancient embankment was responsible for the expression ‘scot free’, which is so very widespread today.

Here is the explanation, which is from the Romney Marsh :-

“….During the 13th century storms, battered Dymchurch and the maintenance of the wall became the responsibility of The Corporation of Romney Marsh. In the 15th century, a “Scot* Tax” was levied on every landowner on Romney Marsh for continuing repair of the wall. If your property was above the sea level you got off “Scot Free”….”

*According to Merriam-Webster a scot is ‘an amount of money assessed or paid’.

We learn something new every day!

A RIGHT ROYAL TAX SCAM

Somerset’s Chew Valley is an interesting place. Around the shores of the artificially made Chew Valley Lake, lie dozens of  medieval villages  and the signs of habitation, burial and ritual left by prehistoric man, including the mysterious stone and timber circle, Stanton Drew. Appledore, where a subsequent battle took place, lies in the next county.

Chew Valley also held an intriguing secret, kept hidden till two metal detectorists had a chance discovery in August 2019. Deep in the soil of the valley  lay a hidden hoard of silver coins  buried just after the Battle of Hastings, probably by a wealthy local.

It was also a medieval tax scam.

The coins bear the heads of both King Harold and William the Conqueror (a small number also sport the image of Edward the Confessor.) Some coins even have one  king as heads and the other as tails. This seems to indicate the person striking  the coins was deliberately using an old tool to avoid paying taxes on a new one with an updated image.

The Chew Valley coin hoard is the largest Norman find in England since 1833 and may be worth millions.

And it also shows that when it comes to taxation, some things never change no matter what century you’re in.

 

CHEW VALLEY COIN FIND

 

BAY

COIN

Another eleventh century struggle

This article reveals the little-known sequel to the battle of Hastings. It took place in North Devon, between Appledore and Northam near Bideford, on 26 June 1069 and was led by Brian of Br_88394404_battlefieldbbcittany and Alan the Black for the Normans against Godwine and Edmund, sons of Harold II, for the Anglo-Saxon “resistance”. The result was very similar.
It seems that Harold’s teenage sons had taken refuge in Leinster after their defeat at Hastings and sailed back with a Dublin fleet supplied by Diarmait, king of that province. During 1069, when the “Harrying of the North” was in progress”, Edgar the Atheling was in exile at the Scottish court where his sister, Margaret of Wessex, married the widowed Malcolm III that year or the next. For the location, you should seek “Bloody Corner“.

Gytha (sister to Godwine and Edmund) is among Richard III’s ancestors, as are Malcolm, Margaret and Domnall mac Murchada (Diarmait’s successor).

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