The charters of the early West Saxon kingdom
This thesis relates to the earliest West Saxon charters, that is those dating from the period c. 670 to the end of the reign of Ecgberht in 839. All charters which have any direct and specific relevance to the West Saxon kingdom in this period are included. The early West Saxon charters are among the most problematical and neglected of all Anglo-Saxon charters. There are various reasons for this: only a small amount of material survives, and it is difficult to form any judgement of, or base any conclusions on, such fragmentary evidence; there are no original West Saxon charters for the period before 838, and consequently no fixed point from which a study of the material could proceed; the main collections, such as those of Malmesbury and Glastonbury, have been widely regarded with suspicion; there is a dearth of other types of evidence for the period which might have illuminated the charters; and the whole period has been largely neglected by modern historians in comparison with the earlier and later periods of West Saxon history. The purpose of this study is to examine each of the documents in detail, to establish as far as possible which of the texts or portions of them are authentic, and to identify a body of genuine material which scholars may in future use as historical evidence with some confidence. Charters are arranged under the archives in which they survived in the medieval period, and each document is discussed individually. Judgements regarding authenticity are presented, and, where the document is genuine in whole or in part, some attempt is made to suggest the historical conclusions which can be drawn from it. A summary of early West Saxon diplomatic is provided and an analysis of the charters according to authenticity. The chief conclusion of this study is that a substantial proportion of the early West Saxon charters are authentic in whole or in part, and that they constitute a considerable body of evidence for the history of the early West Saxon kingdom.