Gyrwas facts for kids

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Fenland pasture - geograph.org.uk - 599587
Fenlands, home to the Gyrwas

Gyrwas (also called Gyrwe) was the name of an early Anglo-Saxon people. They lived mainly on the western edge of the grassy wetlands called the Fens in eastern England. They were divided into two tribal groups; the northern Gyrwas and the southern Gyrwas. This is how they were recorded in the Tribal Hidage.

The name Gyrwe means 'fen-dweller'. The territory of the Gyrwas included Lindisfarne, Hatfield, Nottinghamshire, Northern Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire, and as far south as Peterborough in Northamptonshire. The area around Jarrow was in their territory as well. The Fens supplied the Gyrwas with fish and gamebirds but they lived on the drier lands and islands nearby.

The Gyrwas had their own leaders as late as the first half of the 7th century. Bede records a Tondbert, priceps of the South Gyrwas. He asked for the hand in marriage of Etheldreda, the daughter of King Anna of East Anglia. Tondbert died shortly after the wedding and Ethelreda was then given in marriage to Ecgfrith of Northumbria. Underkings and leaders of tribes like the Gyrwas probably did not claim descent from ancient Germanic gods, as many kings of the heptarchy did. But they were of high enough status to marry Anglo-Saxon royalty.

For a time the territory of the Gyrwas formed a buffer state between the Mercians and the East Anglians. The Gyrwas were later absorbed into Middle Anglia.


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