Eadnoth the Staller

Berkeley Castle
Berkerley Castle - Photo © Linda Bailey, Sep 2006

Eadnoth, father of Harding, and grandfather of Robert FitzHarding from whom the modern lords of Berkeley in Gloucestershire are descended, died in 1068, whilst leading the western fyrd against the sons of Harold. Eadnoth, formerly King Harold's master-of-the-horse, put himself at the head of the forces which resisted Harold's sons attack on Bristol. The attack was beaten off by its citizens and when Godwine's fleet moved into Somerset, it was met by the English levies commanded by Eadnoth. A battle ensued at Bleadon in which Eadnoth was killed and It is also possible that Magnus Haroldson also died in the battle as well. Although the fleet was repulsed, they ravaged the coasts of Devonshire and Cornwall, returning to Ireland loaded with the plunder of the two counties.

Eadnoth's title indicates that he was a king's thegn with a seat and special office in the king's hall, playing a part in government as royal justice. His skill in litigation made him a prominent administrator and royal official of the south west. Eadnoth, a West country magnate, was of an ancient and noble family of Saxons in the days of Edward the Confessor, and was married to the daughter of the King of Denmark. Eadnoth and his son Harding together held the sixteenth largest non-earlish estate in England in 1066, having estates in Wiltshire, Dorset, Somerset, Gloucestershire and Berkshire.

Eadnoth served three kings, Edward, Harold and William.

Berkeley Castle, Gloucestershire,was constructed from 1117 A.D., on the orders of Henry II, with the aim of defending the Severn estuary and the Welsh border. It continues to belong to the Berkeley family, descendants of Robert Fitzharding, who completed the keep in 1153.