Thursday, March 01, 2007

Local Legends

As we all know from watching Time Team, Eastry used to be a royal capital. Saxon Kings of Kent had a palace there from the 7th Century. But, as often happens on Night of the Hats, there's more.

Egbert, King of Kent, was convinced by a nobleman called Thunor that his cousins Ethelred and Ethelbert were plotting against him to seize his throne. So they were killed and hidden behind Egbert's throne[1]. Unfortunately for Thunor and Egbert, a divine pillar of light pointed out the bodies for all to see.

Without going too much into it, it looks to me as thought this is both kin slaying (bad) and breaking of guest-bond (very bad), both of which were serious crimes for Saxons. Egbert had to make amends in some way. One suggestion is that the palace was turned over to a priory. A more interesting version suggests that Egbert promised to turn over as much land as Ethelred and Ethelbert's sister's pet deer could cover in one day, for use as an Abbey. Thunor objected to this but was interrupted when he was swallowed up by the ground.

Anyway, a cautionary tale for anyone who wishes to be King of Kent.

Update: The Wikipedia page for Eastry includes a legend on Thomas Russell, who lived there in 1556. Russell, it seems, was a prince of North Bohemia and had no penis. You can't make this stuff up (unless someone has and it noone has noticed since it was put there in October).

[1] This may have been some kind of poetic justice, in which case Egbert probably said something like "You want my throne? Well, you can lie behind it and look at it for all eternity" but wittier.