Wulfnoth Cild
Wulfnoth Cild was a South Saxon thegn
The term thegn , from OE þegn, ðegn "servant, attendant, retainer", is commonly used to describe either an aristocratic retainer of a king or nobleman in Anglo-Saxon England, or as a class term, the majority of the aristocracy below the ranks of ealdormen and high-reeves...

 who is regarded by historians as the probable father of Godwin, Earl of Wessex
Godwin, Earl of Wessex
Godwin of Wessex , was one of the most powerful lords in England under the Danish king Cnut the Great and his successors. Cnut made him the first Earl of Wessex...

, and thus the grandfather of King Harold Godwinson
Harold Godwinson
Harold Godwinson was the last Anglo-Saxon King of England.It could be argued that Edgar the Atheling, who was proclaimed as king by the witan but never crowned, was really the last Anglo-Saxon king...

. It is known that Godwin's father was called Wulfnoth, and in the view of Frank Barlow
Frank Barlow (historian)
Frank Barlow CBE FBA FRSL was a British historian, known particularly for biographies of medieval figures.Barlow studied at St John's College, Oxford. He was Professor of History at the University of Exeter from 1953 until he retired in 1976 and became Emeritus Professor...

, the Godwin family's massive estates in Sussex are indisputable evidence that the Wulfnoth in question was the South Saxon thegn.

In 1008, King Æthelred the Unready ordered the construction of a fleet, and the following year 300 ships assembled at Sandwich
A sandwich is a food item, typically consisting of two or more slices of :bread with one or more fillings between them, or one slice of bread with a topping or toppings, commonly called an open sandwich. Sandwiches are a widely popular type of lunch food, typically taken to work or school, or...

 in Kent
Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the Thames Estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of...

 to meet a threatened Viking
The term Viking is customarily used to refer to the Norse explorers, warriors, merchants, and pirates who raided, traded, explored and settled in wide areas of Europe, Asia and the North Atlantic islands from the late 8th to the mid-11th century.These Norsemen used their famed longships to...

 invasion. There Brihtric, brother of Eadric Streona
Eadric Streona
Eadric Streona was an ealdorman of the English Mercians. His name a loose translation of the Anglo-Saxon "the Grasper." Streona is historically regarded as the greatest traitor of the Anglo-Saxon period in English history....

, brought unknown charges against Wulfnoth before the king, unjustly according to John of Worcester
John of Worcester
John of Worcester was an English monk and chronicler. He is usually held to be the author of the Chronicon ex chronicis.-Chronicon ex chronicis:...

. Wulfnoth then fled with twenty ships and ravaged the south coast. Brihtric followed with eighty, but his fleet was driven ashore by a storm and burnt by Wulfnoth. After the loss of a third of the fleet the remaining ships were withdrawn to London, and the Vikings were able to invade Kent unopposed. Æthelred almost certainly confiscated Wulfnoth's property as a result.

Wulfnoth Cild died by June 1014.

He is one of the major characters in Justin Hill
Justin Hill
Justin Hill is an English novelist whose novels have been nominated for the Man Booker Prize three times. Born in Freeport, Grand Bahama Island in 1971, he grew up in Yorkshire. He was educated at the historic St Peter's School, York....

's novel, Shieldwall (2011), the first of the Conquest Trilogy.


The church of St. Mary Woolnoth in London was founded by an Anglo-Saxon nobleman named Wulfnoth, who may be the same as Wulfnoth Cild of Sussex.

Secondary sources

  • Barlow, Frank, The Godwins, Pearson Educational Limited, 2002 ISBN 978-0-582-78440-6
  • Walker, Ian. Harold: The Last Anglo-Saxon King. Stroud: Sutton, 1997. ISBN 0-7509-2456-X
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