Watt of Sussex

Last updated

Watt [lower-alpha 1] was a king in what is now the county of Sussex in southern England. His existence is attested by three charters that he witnessed, in the reign of Noðhelm, as Wattus Rex. He probably would have ruled between about AD 692 and 725 and there is some suggestion that he may have been King of the Hæstingas.

Sussex historic county in South East England

Sussex, from the Old English Sūþsēaxe, is a historic county in South East England corresponding roughly in area to the ancient Kingdom of Sussex. It is bounded to the west by Hampshire, north by Surrey, northeast by Kent, south by the English Channel, and divided for many purposes into the ceremonial counties of West Sussex and East Sussex. Brighton and Hove, though part of East Sussex, was made a unitary authority in 1997, and as such, is administered independently of the rest of East Sussex. Brighton and Hove was granted City status in 2000. Until then, Chichester was Sussex's only city.

England Country in north-west Europe, part of the United Kingdom

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.

Noðhelm, or Nunna for short, was King of Sussex, apparently reigning jointly with Watt, Osric, and Æðelstan.


Charter evidence

Some of the Anglo-Saxon charters that date from the Kingdom of Sussex provide evidence which suggests the existence of two separate dynasties in Sussex. The charters of Noðhelm (or Nunna), who ruled Sussex in the late 7th and early 8th century regularly attest a second king by the name of Watt. [1] [2] [3] [4] Watt witnessed a charter from Noðhelm in 692, [lower-alpha 2] without any indication of his territory, he also witnessed (again as Wattus rex) a charter where Bruny (Bryni), dux of Sussex, grants to Eadberht, abbot of Selsey, 4 hides. The charter lacks a dating clause but as Eadberht was known to have been appointed bishop in 705 or slightly later, then the charter would have been created in 705 or slightly earlier. Watt is named as a witness on the charter together with Nunna. [3] [6] Watt is also listed as a witness (as Uuattus rex [lower-alpha 3] ) of another charter, erroneously dated 775, which is believed to be a late copy or forgery. [lower-alpha 4] [9]

Anglo-Saxon charters

Anglo-Saxon charters are documents from the early medieval period in England, which typically made a grant of land, or recorded a privilege. The earliest surviving charters were drawn up in the 670s: the oldest surviving charters granted land to the Church, but from the eighth century, surviving charters were increasingly used to grant land to lay people.

Kingdom of Sussex former Saxon kingdom on the island of Britain

The Kingdom of the South Saxons, today referred to as the Kingdom of Sussex, was one of the seven traditional kingdoms of the Heptarchy of Anglo-Saxon England. On the south coast of the island of Great Britain, it was originally a sixth-century Saxon colony and later an independent kingdom. The South Saxons were ruled by the kings of Sussex until the country was annexed by Wessex, probably in 827, in the aftermath of the Battle of Ellandun.

Eadberht of Selsey was an abbot of Selsey Abbey, later promoted to become the first Bishop of Selsey. He was consecrated sometime between 709 and 716, and died between 716 and 731. Wilfrid has occasionally been regarded as a previous bishop of the South Saxons, but this is an insertion of his name into the episcopal lists by later medieval writers, and Wilfrid was not considered the bishop during his lifetime or Bede's.

King of the Hæstingas

The historian C.T. Chevalier has suggested that Watt may have ruled the Haestingas tribe, which settled around the Hastings area of East Sussex. This is because place-names with the name Watt or What occur only in the Hastings area of Sussex. [10] [11] The theory has been seen as plausible by other historians. [11] [12] Chevalier goes on to suggest that the Haestingas may have been of Frankish origin, but other historians reject this part of the theory as it is based solely on a misinterpretation of the place-name evidence. [10] [11] [12] [13]

Hastings Town and Borough in England

Hastings is a seaside town and borough in East Sussex on the south coast of England, 24 mi (39 km) east to the county town of Lewes and 53 mi (85 km) south east of London. The town gives its name to the Battle of Hastings, which took place 8 mi (13 km) to the north-west at Senlac Hill in 1066. It later became one of the medieval Cinque Ports. In the 19th century, it was a popular seaside resort, as the railway allowed tourists and visitors to reach the town. Today, Hastings is a fishing port with a beach-based fishing fleet. It had an estimated population of 92,855 in 2018.

Francia Territory inhabited and ruled by the Franks during Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages

Francia, also called the Kingdom of the Franks, or Frankish Empire, was the largest post-Roman barbarian kingdom in Western Europe. It was ruled by the Franks during Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. It is the predecessor of the modern states of France and Germany. After the Treaty of Verdun in 843, West Francia became the predecessor of France, and East Francia became that of Germany. Francia was among the last surviving Germanic kingdoms from the Migration Period era before its partition in 843.

See also


  1. also Wattus or What
  2. A.D. 692. Nothhelm (Nunna), king of Sussex, to Nothgyth, his sister; grant, in order to found a minster, of 33 hides (cassati) at Lidsey, Aldingbourne, Lenstedegate (? Westergate in Aldington) and (North) Mundham, Sussex. Latin [5]
  3. In the 7th century scribes wrote uu for /w/; later they used the runic symbol known as wynn [7]
  4. A.D. 775 for c. 705 x c. 717. Nunna, king of Sussex, to Eadberht, bishop; grant of 20 hides (tributarii) at Hugabeorgum and Dene (probably East and West Dean near Chichester). Latin with English bounds. [8]


  1. Kelly. Charters of Selsey. p. lxxvi
  2. Charter S.45 Northelm, king of South Saxons grants land to his sister. Retrieved 1 April 2013
  3. 1 2 Charter S.1173 Bruni dux of South Saxons grants four hides to the Abbot of Selsey Retrieved 1 April 2013
  4. Charter S.43 Nunna, king of Sussex, to Eadberht, bishop; grant of 20 hides (tributarii) at Hugabeorgum and Dene. Retrieved 1 April 2013
  5. Miller, Sean. "S 45" . Retrieved 2008-01-08.
  6. Kelly. Charters of Selsey. p. 23
  7. "Why is 'w' pronounced 'double u' rather than 'double v'?". OUP. Archived from the original on 26 October 2015. Retrieved 1 April 2013.
  8. Miller, Sean. "S 43" . Retrieved 8 January 2008.
  9. West Sussex Records Office Cap/I/17/1. Retrieved 5 June 2017
  10. 1 2 C.T. Chevalier. The Frankish origin of the Hastings tribe in Sussex Archaeological Collections Vol 104. pp. 56-62
  11. 1 2 3 Martin Welch. Early Anglo-Saxon Sussex in Peter Brandon's. The South Saxons. pp. 23-25.
  12. 1 2 R. Coates. On the alleged Frankish origin of the Hastings tribe in Sussex Archaeological Collections Vol 117. pp. 263-264
  13. Kelly. Charters of Selsey. p. lxxix

Related Research Articles

Aethelbert was King of Sussex, but is known only from charters. The dates of Æðelberht’s reign are unknown beyond the fact that it overlapped at least in part with the bishopric of Sigeferth of Selsey, as Sigeferth witnessed an undated charter of Æðelberht in which Æðelberht is styled Ethelbertus rex Sussaxonum.

Æðelstan was a King, presumably of Sussex, reigning jointly with Noðhelm.

Osric was possibly a King of Sussex, reigning jointly with Noðhelm.

Bryni, Ealdorman of Sussex, issued an undated charter as Bruny dux Suthsax’, that was witnessed by Kings Noðhelm and Watt.

Eolla, Bishop of Selsey, was the successor of Eadberht, and seems to have previously been Abbot of Selsey, as he witnessed a charter of Noðhelm together with Osric and Eadberht. He seems to have succeeded as bishop in either 716 or 717. His date of death is sometime between 716 and 731.

Oswald was a medieval Bishop of Selsey, often called Osa for short.

Wihthun was an early medieval Bishop of Selsey.

Cynered, was a Bishop of Selsey.

Guthheard was a medieval Bishop of Selsey.

Wighelm is a probable Bishop of Selsey.

Beornheah was a Bishop of Selsey.

Wulfhun was a Bishop of Selsey.

Æthelric I was an Anglo-Saxon Bishop of Selsey.

Bishop of Chichester Diocesan bishop in the Church of England

The Bishop of Chichester is the ordinary of the Church of England Diocese of Chichester in the Province of Canterbury. The diocese covers the counties of East and West Sussex. The see is based in the City of Chichester where the bishop's seat is located at the Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity. On 3 May 2012 the appointment was announced of Martin Warner, Bishop of Whitby, as the next Bishop of Chichester. His enthronement took place on 25 November 2012 in Chichester Cathedral.

Selsey Abbey

Selsey Abbey was founded by St Wilfrid in AD 681 on land donated at Selsey by the local Anglo-Saxon ruler, King Æðelwealh of Sussex, Sussex's first Christian king. The Kingdom of Sussex was the last area of Anglo-Saxon England to be evangelised.

The Haestingas, or Heastingas or Hæstingas, were one of the tribes of Anglo-Saxon Britain. Not very much is known about them. They settled in what became East Sussex sometime before the end of the 8th century. A 12th-century source suggested that they were conquered by Offa of Mercia, in 771. They were also recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (ASC) as being an autonomous grouping as late as the 11th century.


Cymenshore is a place in Southern England where, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Ælle of Sussex landed in AD 477 and battled the Britons with his three sons Cymen, Wlencing and Cissa, after the first of whom Cymenshore was held to have been named. Its location is unclear but was probably near Selsey.


Richard Coates is an English linguist. He is professor of linguistics at the University of the West of England, Bristol. From 1977 to 2006 he taught at the University of Sussex, where he served as professor of linguistics (1991–2006) and as Dean of the School of Cognitive and Computing Sciences (1998–2003). From 1980–9 he was assistant secretary and then secretary of the Linguistics Association of Great Britain. He has been honorary director of the Survey of English Place-Names since 2003, having previously (1997–2002) served as president of the English Place-Name Society which conducts the Survey. From 2002 to 2008, he was secretary of the International Council of Onomastic Sciences, a body devoted to the promotion of the study of names, and elected as one of its two vice-presidents from 2011–17. He was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1992 and of the Royal Society of Arts in 2001.

International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.