A very warm welcome, whether you be a visitor from afar, or just ambling past from nearby.
Other visitors to this spot have ranged from woolly rhinoceros, mammoth, bison, reindeer, wild horse and wolf, to pilots of the latest military fast jets who use the corridor directly above Haunton to fly from their East Anglian airfields to training areas in Wales. Historic and modern aircraft are also to be seen skirting the village on their low level approach to commemorations at the National Memorial Arboretum, and villagers had front row seats in 2019 when the RAF took a formation of their retiring Tornado aircraft on a farewell tour of the UK.
Woolly rhinoceros ? Undoubtedly ! They would have been visiting what is now the Mease Valley 30,000 years ago, as the almost complete skeleton of a woolly rhinoceros was unearthed during gravel extraction in 2002, close to where the River Mease joins the River Tame just 4 miles away, together with evidence of those other ice age animals.
Gravel quarrying has also made a major contribution towards revealing progressive human settlement of the Tame and Trent river valleys, and there was thus associated settlement of the tributary valleys, including our valley of the River Mease.
Archeological investigation has proven the presence of Neolithic ritual and ceremonial monuments at nearby Catholme, including a cursus and a rare wood henge.
Although there is no record in Haunton, presence of Neolithic, Bronze age and Iron Age settlement has been recorded within a few miles , including 5 axeheads, with a Neolithic stone axehead having been uncovered by ploughing, east of Clifton Campville, and a bronze axe found north of Edingale, both less than 2 miles away. We have had neighbours here for nearly 4000 years.
The Roman era, did not leave the area untouched. That major thoroughfare, Watling Street ran through what is now Tamworth. Ryknield Street is just beyond the Tame. The forts at Manduessedum (Mancetter), and the staging post at Letocetum (Wall), are well documented, but a Romano British farmstead and a Roman farmstead have been identified at Elford and brooches, figurines, coins and pottery have been found at Harlaston, Clifton, Netherseal and Appleby Magna.
it would appear that the locality of Haunton is betwixt and between, as far as history is concerned.
Even the Anglo Saxons bypassed us, the Mercians having their Royal residences variously at Repton or Tamworth, but the Vikings and Danes must have had some impact, as their battle for territory for a hundred years from 873 caused the embattled border area to move to and fro from the north and to the south of this location, on several occasions. Residence here would have been highly precarious during that era. Reading this with your back to the track that pre-dated Main Road, as you are now, during that turbulent period could readily have resulted in Scandinavian warriors taking advantage as they advanced from across the Mease.
Although it is generally considered that “Mease” is derived from the Anglo Saxon version of Meos, which is the Old English term for moss or mossy that may have applied originally to the valley, Mease does also have a notable similarity to the Anglo Saxon word “Mierce” meaning boundary or border.
The trackway that had been the former Roman Watling Street has been regarded as one of the boundary lines between the territory of the English/Anglo Saxons and the territory controlled by the Vikings/Danes that became known as the “The Danelaw”.
However, the River Mease could readily have been defined as the border, as it does signify a distinction between the terms used for the local government/judicial areas that developed in those times. In the part of the country controlled by the Anglo Saxons these areas were known as “Hundreds”, but in the area of the country under The Danelaw, these areas were known as “Wapentakes”.
An area that includes Croxall, Lullington, Coton and Netherseal is shown in the Wapentake of Walecros, whereas the area that includes Chilcote, Clifton , Thorpe Constantine, Haunton and Harlaston is shown in the Hundred of Offlow.
Connections with the Viking presence in the area remain with us today, with names that have Norse origins, Ashby, Appleby, Thorpe Constantine, Oakthorpe, Donisthorpe, The “Dale” Farm, Catholme, Fatholme Farm and Tucklesholme Farm. Two homes in the village are occupied by residents who’s names have Norse origins, (although they were not residents in Haunton or Clifton at the 1851 Census).
Haunton 942 AD
The first written reference to Haunton occurs at this time in the 10th C, within a Charter of 942, whereby King Edmund I granted various areas of land to Wulfsige the Black, that include “8 hides at Clyfton et Hagnetun”. (a “hide” was regarded as sufficient land to support one family).
“Hagnetun”is thought to be derived from 2 sources. 1. Hagona’s or Hagena’s farmstead, or 2. (and more likely) the farmstead or enclosure within the hedges.
Other early references to Haunton refer to it as Honegeton (1231), Hagheneton (1249), Aunton (1259), Hauneton (1271), Hawnton (1565) with the current usage of Haunton emerging in 1695.
The 13thC references to Haunton all stem from the court papers of Henry III, from which we are able to glean some of the illuminating characters linked to the village, such as, Lueca de Keunville, Herbert de Hagheneton and his wife Alditha, Herbert de Wyke, William de Kamwill, Robert de Beverie, Geoffrey le Rus and Ralph de Grendon. We also learn about “virgates and carucates” of land, and the intriguing “feet of fines”. Some of the disputes related to dowers.
And, how about the gloriously named Wulfricus Spot(t) (a grandson of Wulfsige the Black), and his wife Elswitha who re-founded Burton Abbey about 1002, and endowed it with land in many locations including Haunton. There are some intriguing relatives to this holder of land at Haunton. His mother was Wulfrana who is particularly remembered for endowing a monastery at Heaton, becoming known as Wulfran’s Heaton and ultimately the City of Wolverhampton. His niece Aelfgifu, married Cnut, the future King of England.
The Hundred of Offlow that included the location of Haunton, created during the Saxon era is an interesting judicial/local government area, as it originally extended from the River Dove, north of Burton to Perry Barr & Handsworth (both now in Birmingham,), (West) Bromwich, Tipton and Wednesfield in the south, and was not wholly obsolete until the creation of Rural and Urban Districts in 1894. It was named after a tumulus or low hill between Swinfen and Shenstone, which would have been it’s original assembly/meeting point, but today is the location of a slightly less distinguished telecommunication mast.
Haunton’s past has for many centuries more often than not been indistinguishable from the history of Clifton (Campville), being in that Civil Parish since 1894, the Ecclesiastical Parish of St Andrews since the 11thC, and being part of the Manor and its Estate which existed virtually unchanged from the mid 11thC until 1905.
At the time of the “The Great Survey” commissioned by William the Conqueror in 1085, that was recorded in “The Book of Winchester” in 1086, the Lord of the Manor of Clifton was the King himself.
The celebrated mantle of “The Domesday Book”, by which we now know this survey, was not in common use until the late 12thC.
The entries within each local “Hundred” were not listed by locality, but by each Lord of the Manor or land holder, in descending order of rank, commencing with those Manors held directly by King William Of the 70 Manors listed within the Hundred of Offlow, the Manor of Clifton appears to have a degree of dominance. In terms of geld or tax due, it had the highest amount, based on 8 hides, and the second highest number of households at 43. This compares with only 3 hides and 13 houses at (West) Bromwich, and Willenhall having 5 hides and 16 households. Walsall doesn’t appear, but was comprised of the Manors of Bescot, Rushall, Shelfield and Bloxwich, totalling only 27 households, and taxed on 5 hides. Only Croxall had more households, there being 46, it was only taxed on 3 hides, and yet, the village that was there appears to have been abandoned by the 17thC with only undulations remaining in a field near the church to indicate where it was located.
Tamworth, one time base of Saxon royalty, does not appear in the Domesday Book, apparently an oversight, a distinction it shares with Bristol, Winchester and London.
Later history currently being edited, and a more complete history will shortly be added to the Haunton Village Website – http://www.hauntonvillage.co.uk