Part 2: The origin of the Rapes
Many early Saxon names
that identify towns and villages in Sussex must have been in common
use amongst the settlers who first colonised the coastal territory
of the two counties (East Sussex and West Sussex).
Although these names became extinct by the
seventh century, any well-versed storyteller of the time would
surely have known their derivation. For the purpose of this
discussion, the possible precursor of the Rapes, the location of a
name must be the most significant issue if onomastic evidence is to
be proffered to establish a conjecture. There is hardly any other
The idea now put forward is that Ælle could have used an
onomastic series to name his sons. Sometimes Anglo-Saxon rulers
employed this naming pattern for their children, as did King
Aethelfrith of the Deirians in the late sixth century, using the
prefix -OS to name his sons.
The names in question for the
postulation here are Cissa (Cissan Ceaster = Chichester), Cilta (Ciltan
Tun = East Chiltington), born around 483? and Cidda (Ciddan lea = Chiddingly),
born around 483?
It is proposed that in around AD 510 Ælle would have had
six centres of power spread across his warlordship. West of the Arun
there was Hayling Island (Haegal, according to the traditions of the Ayling family of Sussex, the place-name form of
Ælle. The letter "g" here would have been pronounced as a "y" in Old English, but compare also Hailsham and the
River Ellesham), and Chichester.
West of the Adur
was Wlencing (Lancing), and east of the Adur was Ciltan Tun,
Mealling (South Malling) on the Ouse and Ciddan Lea just west of the Cuckmere. There would have been Cymen Wlencing's settlement of
Cymen's Shore near Selsey as well.
From this we may have the high born
members of Ælle's warmoot: Cissa, Cilta, Cidda, Mealle and Cymen
Wlencing, a conjectural warmoot whose centres of power could also
have been the precursor of the Rapes.
The presumed spread of the
locations of royal authority discussed in the note on King Cissa's
Witenagemot, given below, would have completed the basis of the
later divisions across the old county.