17/05/2022

GGF23 – Bueth-barn or Gilles (1035-1090)

Forward to GGM22 – Sigreda de Denton (Beuth/Vaux) – Forward to Middle Ages Index
Back to GGF24 – Bueth the Saxon (1006-1066) – Back to Denton Family Bible

The records of the time are much confused. It appears Beuth had three sons, Bueth-barn, Thane Beuth Sym and another.

Bueth-barn (literally meaning son of Bueth) may have been an alternative name for Gilles de Bueth or Lord Giles of Gilsand. Quite who Bueth married is undiscovered but they had a son called Bueth de Gilsand, born in 1035.

Some sources name Bueth-barn as Wescop, or Gwas-Escop, meaning ‘devotee of the bishop’. Wescop is suggested by the historian John Denton as the originator of the term Cumbrenses for dwellers in this area, which in turn inspired the name Cumberland. John suggests that Wescop was given Gilsland in Henry II’s time by Hubert be Vaux (the Vauxs later intermarried with the early Dentons) and that Wescop in turn gave the land to Bueth-barn and/or Gilles Bueth, thus implying that Wescop was not therefore Gilles. Still with me?

St Cuthberts

Upper Denton still has a 12thcentury church built with stones from the Roman wall. Nether Denton’s church, St Cuthberts, and its vicarage lie within the remains of a Roman fort beside the River Irthing. Its Old Vicarage is described as once being a bastle or defended house.

But it was Beuth’s son Gilles (aka Giles or Gilbert) whose name was later used to describe this territory. It became Gilles Land, then Gilsland, which contained the two communities of Upper Denton and Nether Denton.

Old map of Gilsland, it shows Denton Hall in the bottom right hand corner.
Just above, along the Irthing River, can be seen Nether den[ton] and Ove[r denton]

As stated above the Denton in those names was not a family name, or a person, but instead the Old English topographical words (dene and tun). However, as life became more complicated in the 12th century the practice of adopting a place name as a surname became common, as in ‘of Denton’ or de Denton, the ‘of’ later being discarded.

The Macbeth connection?

Intriguingly, in Scotland Bueth-barn, son of Bueth, would have been expressed as Mac-bueth, and Macbeth was indeed close to being a contemporary. Some amateur genealogists have therefore proposed that they were one and the same. I was drawn to this as Macbeth had been one of my set books for English Literature O-level.

 ‘A History of Northumberland’ by John Hodgson and others reproduces family trees that highlight Macbeth’s links. Kenneth IV, The Grim, was King of Scotland from 995 to 1003, when he was slain by his cousin Malcolm at Strathern. Malcolm II ruled Scotland from 1003 to 1033 and also became Prince of Cumberland before dying at Glamis (The old Queen Mother’s pile).

He was succeeded by his grandson Duncan until he was slain by Macbeth at Bothgownan near Elgin in 1039. Through birth Macbeth was Thane of Ross and through marriage Thane of Moray. His Thaneships of Glamis and Cawdor appear to be Shakespearean creative inventions. But Macbeth did kill Duncan and became king from 1039 to 1056, his reign ending when he was killed by Macduff.

But this Hodgson chart shows Macbeth as marrying Gruoch, a granddaughter of Kenneth IV and daughter of Boede or Bodhe, perhaps our Bueth?. The chart shows a son to Boede who is called Mac-Boede with the note that he was slain in 1033 by Malcolm II. So Macbeth despite the similarity appears to be a son-in-law to Boede and brother-in-law to Mac-Boede.

It is seductive because if this Boede was ‘our’ Beuth. then he was son to Kenneth IV the Grim and not Sims of Yetherham. This would allow us to then clock back our lineage all the way to Alpin the Great, the King of Scotia who reigned for three years until 836 when he was beheaded by the Picts.

But its something of a stretch, I fear, so let’s not.

From the material above I concluded that Bueth and Wescop were separate individuals, and that Bueth-barn and Gilles might have been the same person, but that Bueth-barn was not Macbeth. Besides, my inclination and prejudice is towards being descended from Saxons rather than Scots!

William the Conqueror awarded the feudal lordship Earl of Cumberland (or Carlisle) to his niece’s husband Ranulph de Meschines. Ranulph then divided his earldom into eleven baronies, one of which he persisted in calling Gilsland.

Gilsland was awarded to his relative Hubert de Vaux (aka Valibus or Vallebus) who had come to Britain from Rouen in Normandy during the Conquest.

Carlisle Castle

It is clear that the Normans drove off Bueth and his infant son (Bueth-barn and/or Gilles), they fled across the border into Scotland. Later Gilles, supported by Scots, made a nuisance of himself marauding through Cumberland. However, his tenants in Gilsland supported his claim and by 1116 he and the Scots occupied much of Cumberland.

It took until 1157 for the Norman king Henry II to re-establish control of the region. He re-appointed Hubert de Vaux as Baron of Gilsland but Hubert was already quite old and was soon succeeded by his son Robert de Vaux. This long passage of time lends support to the notion that Bueth-barn was son of Bueth and that Gilles was grandson to Bueth. Please note however that I have left the GGF count based on them as being the same person or brothers, and long-lived.

There is a myth that Robert de Vaux was harassed by Gilles until Robert lured him for talks at Castlesteads, by then a Vaux stronghold. Gilles was killed. However, Robert de Vaux was ashamed of this murder and turned his attention to working in the London Inns of Court where he became a confidante of Henry II. Still contrite, he initiated the priory of Lanercost (founded 1165) dedicated to St Mary Magdalene – quite an unusual choice for that region. Part of the construction re-used stones from Hadrian’s Wall, several still bear Roman inscriptions.

Brick re-used at Lanercost with Roman inscription indicating the VIth legion

Robert de Vaux awarded Lanercost to monks of the Augustinian Canons order and ceded them the control of other lands including Castlesteads, the site of his crime. The tower in which he committed the murder was reputedly pulled down and salt was poured over the site – as the Romans did at Carthage.

However, this whole account is only found in the historian John Denton’s manuscript and certainly appears nowhere in the annals of Lanercost. In 1174 Robert de Vaux became notable for his defence of Carlisle against siege by William the Lion of Scotland.

The undercroft of Lanercost Priory ©Bob Denton 2016

Note on shorthand acronyms being used in the DFB:
GGF1 / GGM1 – means first great-grandfather /mother;
GU11 / GA11 – means eleventh great-uncle / great-aunt;
1C3 – means first cousin three times removed

Forward to GGM22 – Sigreda de Denton (Beuth/Vaux) – Forward to Middle Ages Index
Back to GGF24 – Bueth the Saxon (1006-1066) – Back to Denton Family Bible

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