Arnketil in the Doomsday Survey

The first name in history that we can associate with Cowling, then spelt Collinghe, is Arnketil. According to the Doomsday survey of 1086, ordered by William the Conqueror, he was the Lord for the area in 1066, at the conquest by William. Arnketil also had other land in Craven. Our picture above this article is of a fictional Saxon lord.

The survey was to discover who had held land at the conquest and who held it in 1086 and what was its value for taxation purposes. Therefore it is only interested in the person or people in that settlement who are going to pay tax. All land is held at the discretion of the monarch. Therefore in 1066 Arnketil would be Lord and chief tennant of Collinghe, but may not live here.

Arnketil, Arnketill or spelled with a conjoined letter ae, known as a ligature and pronounced as a short a as in cat, is an Old Danish name. In Norse Arn is a bird and Ketill is a helmet. It is pronounced Arnkettle. He would have had danish ancestry, which is not unusual. The north of England was under Danish rule in the Danelaw from the year 865 to 954. Many settled interbred and continued to live here after that. Hence the reason for many Danish or old Norse words in our area – e.g. Royd, Knarr, beck.

Someone called Arnketil is associated with one hundred and one settlements before the conquest as lord or chief tennant. However afterwards in 1086 this number drops to four. This land use may involve more than one Arnketil. After the conquest the land was distributed to the French nobles who had served William well during the conquest or were his trusted men in Normandy. Therefore Arnketil could have died in the fighting or possibly like many Saxon nobles fled abroad.

By 1086 the lord for Collinghe settlement is Roger de Poitou or aka Roger the Poitevin, who is a young man, the son of Norman noble Roger Montgomery, who was one of Williams closest advisors.

Stained glass window showing Roger de Poitou

The Doomsday survey is ambiguous about the state of the land. The website considers that the land may be classed as waste in both 1066 and 1086. This means it was unusable, uncultivated or considered unsuitable for agriculture. It was also possible that Williams army had laid it to waste in the Harrying of the North post conquest. This was a way of stamping out any uprisings by troublesome northern Saxons. It is also possible that the land was mainly moorland at that time.