Watt of Sussex

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Watt 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.[1]

Charter evidence[edit]

Some of the 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 (or Wattus).[2][3][4][5] Watt witnessed a charter from Noðhelm in 692,[6] 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.[4][7] Watt is also listed as a witness (as Uuattus rex[8]) of another charter, erroneously dated 775, which is believed to be a forgery.[9]

King of the Hæstingas[edit]

The historian C.T. Chevalier has suggested that Watt may have ruled the Haestingas tribe, who settled around the Hastings area of East Sussex. This is because place-names with the name Watt or What occur in the Hastings region, but are not found in western Sussex.[10][11] The theory has been seen as a 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]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Searle. Anglo-Saxon Bishops, Kings and Nobles; p. 271
  2. ^ Kelly. Charters of Selsey. p. lxxvi
  3. ^ Charter S.45 Northelm, king of South Saxons grants land to his sister. Accessdate 1 April 2013
  4. ^ a b Charter S.1173 Bruni dux of South Saxons grants four hides to the Abbot of Selsey Accessdate 1 April 2013
  5. ^ Charter S.43 Nunna, king of Sussex, to Eadberht, bishop; grant of 20 hides (tributarii) at Hugabeorgum and Dene. Accessdate 1 April 2013
  6. ^ Miller, Sean. "S 45". Retrieved 2008-01-08. 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. 
  7. ^ Kelly. Charters of Selsey. p. 23
  8. ^ "Why is 'w' pronounced 'double u' rather than 'double v'?". OUP. Retrieved 1 April 2013. In the 7th century scribes wrote uu for /w/; later they used the runic symbol known as wynn 
  9. ^ Miller, Sean. "S 43". Retrieved 2008-01-08. 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. 
  10. ^ a b C.T. Chevalier. The Frankish origin of the Hastings tribe in Sussex Archaeological Collections Vol 104. pp. 56-62
  11. ^ a b c Martin Welch. Early Anglo-Saxon Sussex in Peter Brandon's. The South Saxons. pp. 23-25.
  12. ^ a b 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


  • Bedwin, Owen, ed. (1966). "Sussex Archaeological Collections Vol. 104: The Frankish origin of the Hastings Tribe". Lewes, Sussex: Sussex Archaeological Society. 
  • Bedwin, Owen, ed. (1979). "Sussex Archaeological Collections Vol. 117: On the alleged Frankish origin of the Hastings tribe". Lewes, Sussex: Suss Archaeological Society. 
  • Brandon, Peter, ed. (1978). The South Saxons. Chichester: Phillimore. ISBN 0-85033-240-0. 
  • Kelly, S.E (1998). Anglo-Saxon Charters VI: Charters of Selsey. OUP for the British Academy. ISBN 0-19-726175-2. 
  • Miller, Sean. "Anglo-Saxon Net: England c.450-1066 in a Nutshell". Retrieved 28 October 2010. 
  • Searle, W.G. (1899). Anglo-Saxon Bishops, Kings and Nobles. Cambridge University Press. 
  • Welch, Martin (1978). Peter Brandon, ed. The South Saxons: Early Anglo-Saxon Sussex. Chichester: Phillimore. ISBN 0-85033-240-0.