Lords of The Manor of Barnack

The first recorded mention of the Lordship of the Manor of Barnack seems to have been when Wulfhere, King of Mercia, granted the Manor to Peterborough Abbey in 664 AD. The Manor was later claimed by the Monastery of St. Pega at Peakirk, which held it until 1048, when it was successfully claimed back by Peterborough Abbey.

In about 1050 the Manor of Barnack was granted by Peterborough Abbey to a Dane, Siward Bjornsson. He probably arrived in England with King Canute around 1015 and was General to Canute’s son Harthacanute and to Edward the Confessor. Siward was made Earl of Northumbria in about 1041 and, as Shakespeare relates, he led the  10,000 strong army that invaded Scotland in 1053 to depose King Macbeth.


Siward married Aelfled and in 1046 had a son, Waltheof, who inherited the Manor of Barnack when his father died in 1056. It is said that Waltheof, “stricken with remorse at holding what was once the Church’s”, awarded the Manor to Crowland Abbey in 1061.

Hereward the WakeIn 1066 Waltheof submitted to Norman rule, but three years later he joined the revolt led by Hereward the Wake. However, he was forgiven by William the Conqueror and made Earl of Huntingdon. In 1070 he married the King’s niece Judith and became the Earl of Northumberland in 1072.

This didn’t stop him rebelling again the same year and plotting a further rebellion in 1075, for which he was condemned to death. At his execution in Winchester in 1076 it is recorded that “before the Earl had completed the Lord’s Prayer his head was cut from his body in a public execution. The final words of the prayer were said to have been uttered by his disconnected head.”

Judith inherited Waltheof’s estates, but the land in Barnack that he had given to Crowland Abbey was confiscated by William, and given to Bury St. Edmunds Abbey.

By 1114 the Manor was held by Ralph de Bernac. The Lordship of the Manor was passed down to descendents of the de Bernacs until it was sold to Lord Burghley in 1578. Since then the manor has remained in the Cecil family and is now with William Cecil, 7th Marquess of Exeter.

Chris Gardiner  Senior Reserve Manager
Barnack Hills and Holes National Nature Reserve

Further Information:

More information on Hereward the Wake>

More information on Peterborough Abbey >

More information on Siward, Earl of Northumbria >