Blackborough: A Complete History of a Non-Existent Place (Part 2)

Two Peoples, One City (877 – 1066 AD)

The first act of Gunnar was to move the royal quarters to the Norse-dominated Vedhalla and use the old quarters as a barracks to keep the peace between the Anglo-Saxons and Norsemen. Many of Gunnar’s early policies were bitterly unpopular with the Anglo-Saxons who believed he was secretly sponsoring Norse immigration to eventually overthrow the entire community, but Gunnar knew better than to upset the Anglo-Saxon majority and was primarily concerned with providing a steady flow of cash to Jorvik and as such encouraged new arrivals and trade which in the next few years would cause the Anglo-Saxons to quiet down as the community grew richer.

The Norse mostly stuck to Vedhalla and the newly-rebuilt docklands of Blæcburh, as fishermen, traders, and blacksmiths, while the Anglo-Saxons made up the farmers throughout Blæcburh and the hamlets. This unlikely cooperation between two different cultures led to both benefiting and adopting elements from one another, the Norse taught the Anglo-Saxons the ways of seafaring, while the Anglo-Saxons converted many Norse to Christianity, swelling the ranks of the local monastery.

Many Norsemen settled in the abandoned northern district of Blæcburh to the point where a pagan temple was built at the site of the old monastery. The Cult of Dubnus grumbles, yet no attacks on it happen for the time being.

The hamlet of Merdin grew, mostly due to new monks, as did the lakeside hamletwhich acquired the name Frocmere (a corruption of the Old English words for “frog pond”).

Northumbria experiences several decades of instability, as the Northumbrian Danes struggle to see off attacks by the English king Edward the Elder.

Thankfully however Blaecburh and the surrounding area is largely spared from further conflict, as the Vikings remain on top but increasingly are integrating with the Anglo-Saxon population.

Gunnar Njordsson oversees the construction of a simple wooden bridge across the St. Dubnus river to replace the old Roman stone bridge and this facilitates greater movement of peoples, leading to Anglo-Saxons and Vikings often living side by side.

Dirt roads in Blaecburh are expanded and in 910 a small market is established in the south of the inner-town.

In 914 Gunnar Njordsson mediates an agreement between the various religious groups present in the area. Deorwine’s Horn is placed in the church of the cult of St. Dubnus, whilst the head of St. Dubnus is placed in Merdin Monastery. Gunnar Njordsson also guarantees the right of all townspeople to worship wherever they wish, be that at the pagan temples in Vedhalla and north Blaecburh, or at the church of St. Dubnus and Merdin Monastery.

Blaecburh begins to recover from decades of conflict and as farms are expanded barns are built to hold crops.

An open field system is instituted to the west of the town, with the development of selions, each accompanied by a barn and farmhouse.

The population of Blaecburh grows once more, although this is at the expense of the surrounding hamlets where population growth remains fairly flat.

In 924, the ageing Guunnar Njordsson considers converting to Christianity.

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Expansion occurs peacefully for a few years, including the addition of a tavern and store at the northern docks. Gunarr Njordsson dies in 935 before being able to convert to Christianity. His successor, Haraldr Sigurdrson, refuses to convert to Christianity and begins to show an anti-Christian stance, jeopardizing the stability of the town. The Cult of Dubnus uses this to their advantage, forming an anti-Pagan resistance to the town that seeks to restore Anglo-Saxon dominance to the region. They strike in 940, dressing up as bandits and raiding the monastery in Merdin, burning it to the ground and hiding certain manuscripts and treasures in a vault near the church. They later return and “rediscover” the head of Dubnus, which had been incased in a gold statue, bringing it back to their church. With it, they begin to have secret sacrifices to Dubnus so that he may bring the Saxons victory. After each sacrifice, the Saxons soon advanced into Jorvik. However, in 949, a Norseman catches on and witnesses the sacrifice. Before he can tell anyone, however, he is killed and his body, along with all the other sacrifices of the night, were hung from a tree near the Norse temple in Blæcburh. When the townfolk see the results of a “secret Norse sacrifice” they raise the temple to the ground and kill the priest. Chieftain Haraldr threatens severe repercussions as a Northumbrian force approaches Blæcburh.

In 950 AD, with a mighty force led by King Eadred approaching the town, Haraldr wisely avoids taking hasty action against the Anglo-Saxon insurrection. Seeing the writing on the wall Haraldr agrees to convert to Christianity and to swear allegiance to King Eadred.

This is enough to save Haraldr’s life but not his rule and King Eadred grants Blaecburh to Godwin, one of his Thanes. Haraldr buries his hoard of treasure in the forest North-West of Blaecburh, in the hopes of returning to recover it, but never gets the opportunity as he is forced into exile.

The hoard of treasure remains buried, its location known to no-one.

The Kingdom is once again divided under Eadred’s successor in 957 but united again under Edgar the Peaceful who returns stability to England.

The Cult of St. Dubnus, initially empowered by the conflict with the pagans, is forced underground by Godwin who disapproves of the cult and believes in the need for religious uniformity across England. The church is taken away from the Cult’s control although the head of St. Dubnus remains at the church.

In 963 AD Merdin Monastery is refounded under a Benedictine Order.

With the newfound peace in the town, gradual growth continues and in 970 AD several sheepfolds are established north of the town, leading to a boom in the wool industry.

In 976, King Edgar the Peaceful donates a large amount of stone, brick, glass, and wood to Blaecburh in reward for their fealty and loyalty. These donations primarily go to the renovation of and additions to the Church of St. Dubnus, but some townsfolk are able to obtain some materials and construct new homes in the city, raising the population.

In 981, the townsfolk of Vedhalla work on clearing ruins and debris of old buildings in town, and the nearby forestry is trimmed over the course of the decade.

In 984, the new King, Edmund, brings back the spirit of his deceased father Edgar, and donates stone to Merdin, allowing the townsfolk to construct a statue of the Virgin Mary outside of the Benedictine church.

In 989, a small tavern is built in Merdin, entertaining the few hundred people living in the town.

 

In the year 1000, a man named Knútr Haraldrson was born to a Christian Norse family in Vedhalla. He would grow up a devout Christian and leave to go try and convert the homeland of his ancestors in 1018. He doesn’t return for many years.

In 1004 a small band of devout norse pagans arrive to the north of Blæcburh and set up a small fishing settlement. They were driven from their homeland of Danemark as the king had converted enforcing harsh law on non Christians. The town, and island it is founded on, is named Rjöðray (clearing island).

Vedhalla, now almost entirely Christian, becomes a sanctuary for Norse Christians from the lands of Svithjod and Norge. The population grows, the primary immigrants being Swedes and several Finns, adding a distinctly Norse flare to the architecture.

In 1018 a Norse Longboat bringing over Christians from Scandinavia sinks just off shore, most, if not all, of the passengers survive, but the boat breaks in half and partially sinks. No one touches it yet.

Merdin, showing no signs of stopping growing, decides to build a small town meeting hall, to decide upon local matters to try and take things into their own hands and out of Blæcburh.

 

Pestilence and Prestige (1067 – 1469 AD)

In 1066, Edward the Confessor dies, leading to the events that land William the Conqueror on the throne of England. As the Normans invade, some of the citizens of Vedhalla commit suicide in the church. spilling blood in the rooms. When the Normans arrive, they see the church full of red blood, naming the town itself “Redhall” (as a variation on Vedhalla). The fort is completely decimated during the conquest, though most of Blaecburh escaped unharmed. In 1070, the Count of Northumbria, Robert, plans to build a new castle west of Blaecburh, begining with a massive forest clearing campaign.

The castle begins work in 1080, but halts activity in 1086 when the builders run out of material. It continues work again in 1093, after more people begin to work again. The plans have slightly changed since it’s inception, but the main branch is basically done.

The ruins near the circle of stones are found, and another small place of worship is founded as a mourning spot for deceased loved ones.

Redhall continues as it always had, even though much of the town is dead. Many of the ruins are tossed into the river or used to build new buildings, and a large cemetery is built to commemorate the lost ones.

Between the cistern and the castle’s church a statue of the recently deceased Duke Edwin is build. Additionally a small monument is erected near the castle gate, showing the family arms.

The palisade and the walls are finished but the ditch around the moat – and maybe someday the city – is not finished yet.

A fire destroyes one of the towers of the nearly finished castle in 1148. The tower ruin – nicknamed “hollow stone” would dominate the riverside for the years to come, eventually lending its name to the whole castle

The farmland inside the city walls is increased and more people settle along the street between the old Roman fort and the new castle. Another interessting part of Blæcburh is the area near the river. The northern piers get fortification and houses are build between them, giving Blæcburh its first real harbor area.

Blæcburh’s city gates are renovated. Between the harbor and the Old Pier a few Jews settle, becoming Blæcburh’s first Jewish inhabitants. They live in a quite corner on the outside of the Roman wall.

The city-garrison moves near the walls, or more precisely into the walls between the river wall and the Roman wall. One of the buildings formerly used by them becomes a church, the first inside the Roman city.

Sadly a fire costs the life of a dozen people in the city. Their houses are burned to the ground and a part of the city wall is damaged – but nothing that can’t be fixed.

Merdin gets a road that connects it better with Vedhalla. On the crossing of this road and the old Roman road a few people settle.

Three dozen people arrive in the city after fleeing from the civil war that is going on in England. Farmers are forced to give them shelter, which leads satisfies none. The duke promises that they soon will get a piece of land. That should solve the problem.

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The town expands slightly and work continues on the castle until a Scottish raid hits in 1195. The outer palisade is burnt down, and so is part of the inner one. Part of the town is sacked, although the Scottish are concentrated on the castle and leave most of it alone. The Scottish cannot penetrate the walls of the castle and quickly rout or are captured. Instead of rebuilding the walls, the lord of the town concentrates on further construction of the castle and his sheriff inside the inner palisade rebuilds his house larger. Several new sheep enclosures pop up.

Scottish raiders attack Blæcburh again in 1204, doing some damage to the northern part of the town before being beaten back.

Duke John decides to strenghten Blæcburh’s defense. The palisade is rebuild and the castle’s ditch is enlarged to surround the town. The castle itself is slightly enlarged, gaining two new smaller towers near the gate in the process. The tallest tower of the castle – the Hollow Stone – is finished as well.

Before the ditch was done the Scottish attacked again in 1220. This time Blæcburh was better prepared and the raiders did not get passed the palisade. Sadly Redhall wasn’t prepared as well.

Blæcburh’s market is enlarged, as well as the townhall. Much of the land inside the palisades is converted into farmland or pastures for sheep, to feed the growing population and to guarantee safety for the farmers.

Many refugees arrive.

In 1220 raiders burn down most of Redhall. Many people were able to flee into the woods, but they had nothing left. Their houses burned, their boats destroyed and their belongings gone, they seek help in Blæcburh.

After the construction of the castle, the palisade and the ditch the duke finds himself short of funds and so sells Redhall to the church, giving them the right to build a monastery their: the Monastery of Redhall.

In 1227 Henry III grants a charter to the market in the old Roman town, aiding its expansion. The market is now a vibrant centre of trade, particularly of fish and wool.

Between 1225 and 1235 forest is cleared and the open field system to the west of town is expanded, with hedgerows planted to demarcate boundaries between fields.

In 1230 the defensive moat around Hollow Stone castle and Blaecburh is completed.

In 1237 the Treaty of York is signed between Scotland and England, agreeing the border between the two countries.

More sheepcotes are built, leading to the development of cottage industries north of the town, although most wool produced is exported to the continent which leads to a slight expansion of the docks.

In 1244, King Henry musters an army in Blaecburh after the scots once again threaten the border.

In 1249, the Duke petitions the King for a tournament be held in Blaecburh to thank the town for it’s role in the defence of England.

In 1230 construction of the Monastery begins in Redhall but stalls two years later due to lack of men and materials. The first part of the monastery is finally completed in in 1243. Repairs to the town have been slow but things are finally starting to look up for Redhall.

With increased safety, Merdin is again expanding. Ruins are cleared, new houses and farms constructed, and a large tannery established.

Frocmere expands, and is quickly developing a rivalry with Redhall after a series of land disputes.

On the island of Rjöðray an outbreak of disease devastates the tiny isolated community, leaving only a handful of families remaining who become ever more insular and suspicious of outsiders.

From 1251 – 1252, a large jousting area is constructed immediately south of the Hollowstone Castle.

In 1253, a jousting tournament occurs and attracts young men from all over Blæcburh, Redhall, Merdin, and Frocmere. They compete over valiantly, but sadly a few are killed. The winner of the tournament is declared to be Edmund Holly, the son of a town merchant and fisherman. The Duke of Blæcburh congratulates him and formally knights him, making him Sir Edmund Holly.

Also in 1253, Henry III responds well to the tournament and officially grants Blæcburh a town charter, legitimising the town in the eyes of the English crown.

From about 1255 all the way into the mid 1260s, the area around the jousting arena attracts settlers and merchants. A few houses and farms are constructed, as well as some shops and a small chapel. These buildings coalesce to form a small village on the outskirts of town.

In 1263, a chapel is constructed a distance westward of Blæcburh, near the large cemetery.

In the late 1260s, Henry III increases persecution against Jews, such as increasing taxes greatly upon them and essentially taxing them dry. He does not expel them however and continues to use a few talented Jewish financiers to his benefit. Despite being allowed to stay, a few families leave Blackburh for Holland or France. Their homes fall into disrepair, but a few remaining Jewish families, and the community leaders themselves, elect to repair any abandoned houses in an effort to uphold their small village. The aging Duke notices these efforts and decides to ease their tax burden in return for their service.

Also in the 1260s, French nobleman Simon de Montfort wages a baronial war on Henry III. The Duke elects to remain loyal to the King and orders his urban barons to steer away from joining the rebellion. The rebellion ends in 1267 with Henry III eventually emerging victorious.

Due to his loyalty, Henry III gifts the Duke with numerous amounts of gold coin and resources in 1271 in order to beautify and strengthen Blæcburh.

From 1272 – 1275, the Duke uses these resources to fortify the palisades surrounding Hollow Wood castle, but fortification is suspended in 1275 upon the Duke’s death.

In 1279, the new Duke, named Thomas, allocates these gifted resources to Merdin, Redhall, and Frocmere.

In 1290, after years of increased persecution, the new King, Edward I, issues an edict expelling all Jews. Due to their good relationship with the Duke, the few Jewish families in Blackburh remain. However, they are forced to isolate themselves and practice their religion privately or risk angering the townsfolk. The townsfolk themselves only barely tolerate Jewish presence and any increased visibility from the Jews could push them over the edge and force the Duke to expel them.

In 1293, the northeast corner of Blackburh (as it is commonly now spelt) expands and a few wooden houses, small farms, and large well are constructed.

In 1296, a circular convent, named the Holy Convent of Kind Lady Agatha, is constructed in southern Blackburh.

Also in 1296, several men are levied by Duke Thomas in order to fight against the Kingdom of Scotland.

In 1280, Sir Edmund Holly is able to construct a small, comfortable manor in northern Merdin. He constructs a small private chapel within the house, and allows the exterior to be charmed with small gardens and a statue of the late Duke. He also builds a well for himself and his family.

In 1300, during a temporary truce with Scotland, the opportunity is taken to finish reinforcing the defences of Hollow Stone castle in anticipation of possible future attack.

A new sheep enclosure is built and a well dug to supply the farmlands west of town.

The houses and farms around the jousting arena expand.

The area immediately north of the old Roman walls is becoming increasingly heavily built up and a number of structurally questionable lean-tos in the inner town.

In 1310 a number of Jewish homes are taken over by new occupants, mainly fisherman, although a small handful of Jews remain practicing their faith in secret.

Some of the isolated ruins north of Blackburh degrade further.

Between 1310 and 1314 several relatively large new homes are built by wealthy wool merchants north of town.

Under Robert the Bruce the Scots find success at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 and Blackburh is subsequently raided in 1323.

The town walls hold but the English force mustered to defend the town is humiliatingly defeated, large numbers of sheep and other livestock are carried away, pastures destroyed, and homes outside of the town walls burnt to the ground.

In 1302 the Benedictine monastery in Merdin buys up several neighbouring buildings, some of which are used for brewing beer by the monks.

In 1324 the standing stone circle (or “Crescent Hill” as it has come to be known) is agreed to mark the border between the villages of Frocmere and Redhall.

On the mainland dark rumors abound about evil Satanic black magic and ritual sacrifice being carried out on the tiny island now commonly called Rothray.

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As the High Middle Ages come to a close, the good times enjoyed by Blackburh over the past few centuries will abruptly come to an end.

Due to the rapidly-expanding city of Blackburh dominating much of Northeast England, an ex-Bishop of Durham moves to the Church of Saint Dubnus in 1327 and it is expanded, with the hopes of a cathedral eventually being built.

The docklands are expanded and many sheepcrofts are rebuilt, with the treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton ending Scottish raids in the area.

Several commercial buildings are built within Hollowstone Castle’s gatehouse, attracted by its safety.

In 1335, a minor fire in the southern part of the inner town of Blackburh destroys many older lean-tos. The lean-tos are rebuilt as more structurally sound houses.

The Lord holds another jousting tournament in 1340. Following this, yearly fairgrounds are built next to the tournament grounds.

Spurred on by increased trade of metals and wool, more merchant houses are built in the north end of town.

The Black Death hits in 1349, devastating most of Blackburh, especially the inner town with its poor sanitation. Many of the survivors flee to the countryside and the Norse in Rothray are scapegoated. The Jews manage to conceal their faith so well that none of them are killed. Many farms inside the town walls get overgrown after their farmers die.

In 1326, due to increased demand for metals for warfare and coal for burning, due to the progressive deforestation of much of England, two bell-pits for iron mining are constructed. To process this iron, a water-powered bloomery is constructed on the Merdin Creek.

Following 1326, a mining boom occurs near the town, with much of the surrounding woods cleared for room for mines. A surface mine for coal is created.

Merdin grows increasingly important during this time, and a dock is built near the conflux of the Dubnus River and Merdin Creek. The Hollys expand their manor and a couple of selions are built.

In 1349, the Black Death hits, killing much of the population of Merdin, especially the monks. Many houses go abandoned and fields go overgrown. Only one iron pit is operational at the end of the year out of all of the mines. Regardless, Merdin suffers less than Blackburh, due to the more rural nature of the town.

Frocmere, now known as Frogmore to most of the inhabitants of the town remains a quiet place, only changed occasionally by the increasingly wild summer festival.

The antics at the summer festival reach their zenith in 1333, when a proto-football game between members of Frogmore and Redhall turns deadly, and a riot breaks out around Crescent Hill, burning several houses including the small shrine near the stone circle and killing several more. Following these events, the festival is banned, and a watchtower is set up on the site of the church. Rumors of the haunted hill become commonplace again.

As with the rest of the area, Frogmore becomes afflicted with the Black Death in 1349. Many die, and the church is abandoned, alongside several houses and a selion. Some turn to witchcraft to try to end the disease, and the watchtower near the stones secretly becomes a meeting place for witches and a small satanic shrine where ritual sacrifice is performed is built deep in the nearby woods.

Redhall grows slightly, and several farms are built near Crescent Hill, alongside the old town gaining several new buildings.

The last of the ruins crumble away.

The aforementioned riot between Frogmore and Redhall destroys most of the new farms around Crescent Hill.

The Black Plague strikes in 1349 and hits the town especially hard, due to the communal living of the monks and the fact that many people afflicted with the disease went to the monastery for aid. Many survivors either turn to witchcraft or scapegoat the residents of Rothray as the cause of the disease. Alongside Blackburh Redhall sent men to burn down Rothray in late 1349.

Very few people move to the isolated island during this period, fearing rumors of black magic-practicing residents.

In reality, the Norse pagan beliefs had become so integrated with the Christianity of the mainland that the religion practiced by the residents was distinct from either one. Some heretics and witches who were wanted on the mainland also moved to Rothray and contributed their beliefs to the diverse religion practiced by the residents.

Everything changed in 1349 when the Black Plague hit the area. Rothray, due to its isolation was able to escape the lion’s share of the disease, yet many mainlanders became bitter and jealous of the island’s well-being during hardships, and some thought that the residents of the town had a pact with the devil to preserve the island while the mainland suffered. These tensions came to a boiling point when in 1349, both Blackburh and Redhall sent men to burn down the town and kill everyone in a desperate attempt to please God and spare themselves from the disease. The town was completely obliterated and there were no survivors, save an old Norse pagan who hid in a small cave.

The period after the pestilence is is marked by regrowth and re-population, however an economic recession and demographic crisis, caused by the great labour shortage and over-abundance of land, threaten to plunge the region back into misery and dereliction.

From 1367 to 1371, a few Jewish families move into the derelict buildings in the northeast of town. A few suspicious gentiles murmur about Jews poisoning the wells, leading to the pestilence. These town members are scolded, being told that it was the Norse pagans that brought plague to the region, and that the Jews were a part of the curse just as the Christians were.

In 1370, a settlement pops up across the moat in the northern section of town. The village is an offshoot of the pasture lands farther north. A chapel is established on the side of the major road and a few houses are set up. A small fishery and shop is established on the moat front.

In 1373, many of the large tracts of farmland in the western reaches of the region fall victim to disrepair as their owners are stricken down with plague. The large tracts are divided by plague survivors and divided up by hedgerow.

In 1359, the Benedictine Monastery is repaired and re-inhabited. An clinic is established within the Monastery, as well as a smaller healer across the street.

The Merdin coal mines fall into disrepair. They are not abandoned, but since fewer people are working on the mines, fewer areas actually see action. Thus, the parts of the mine not really worked on are allowed to crumble.

In 1374, Joan Holly, Lady suo jure of the Holly Estate, buys up several derelict properties surrounding her home. She is able to give several laborers jobs, but at a high cost due to the labour shortage.

Frogmere is especially affected by the plague, losing 75% of its population.

In 1369, the Monastery demolishes its western face in order to save money in terms of upkeep. Furthermore, the population of the monastery remains greatly reduced to a point that much of the building is useless.

From about 1372 to 1374, Redhall is truly devastated by the second plague devastation, more so than any other town. Only a few houses dodge the disease, but for the most part, Redhall is destroyed.

Duke Henry I remarks that Redhall should simply be abandoned and its remaining inhabitants move into Blackburh or Merdin.

Nature reclaims many abandoned homes and farms.

In 1358, The ruins of Old Rothray are cleared and a new English settlement is erected, with a few homes and farms being constructed.

Due to isolation, Rothray escapes the plague visitations of 1361 and 1373.

In 1377, the Bishop of Blackburh, recently moved from Durham, decides that none of the churches in the area are up to the standards of a Bishop, and that God should be praised for the town surviving the Pestilence (mainly the first one though). So, with the Duke’s permission, Redhall Monastery as well as the houses and ruins around there are torn down, to make way for the St. Canute Cathedral, named for the Anglo-Norse Christian born in Redhall, who was instrumental in the conversion of Scandinavia to Catholicism. The church is designed after the one in Merdin, as well as the great Cathedrals of Paris and Santiago. The graveyard is moved to the south-west side of the church. Many people from the area move to Redhall to aid in construction, further depleting their sources, and being the cause that their growth is so slow.

A full time hospital, the first in the area, is also built to aid the sick and survivors of the Pestilence. A wing of the hospital holds the displaced monks of the monastery, who will move into the Cathedral upon completion. Many houses are built, really little more than shacks, to house the workers, so naturally traders follow to profit off the population. Redhall finally seems to be over its streak of bad luck.

The construction of the so-called “Frog’s Pond Canal” is continued, with a small lake forming due to the lower elevation. After discovering a small Satanist hideout in the woods, the conspirators are kicked out, and the building is converted into a small Catholic church.

The old castle Hollow Stone looks now rather unfashionable. It is decided to renovate it and give it a nice and pretty Gothic design. The outer walls are rebuild as well and the castle is to be enlarged southwards.

The great hall and the ducal chambers are one of the first things to be rebuild. Were the earlier in the northern wing of the castle, are they now moved to the west wing. Besides the great hall not much is completed by the end of the decade.

Quite a lot of people move into Blackborough, as it has come to be spelt by the 15th century. Many are builders that came to the city to help with the construction of various projects in Blackborough and Redhall. Others are merchants and fishermen.

Some households begin to have little hadgerows around their piece of land, forming small gardens, mostly for vegetables.

It is getting pretty tight inside the old Roman walls. Some small old hoods are destroyed and larger and taller building are build instead. The Roman wall is not in good shape anymore and is used by some as a query whenever they need some bricks and stones for their own homes.

The townhall is enlarged on the cost of a few small houses. A part of the Roman wall is integrated into the townhall. Commonly the older and newer part of the building are called marketside and wallside. Wallside being the more representative, with a gothic portal in the and a newly constructed tower upon the Roman wall, whereas marketside has visible timber framing and an older more rustic look to it.

South of the townhall and the Roman wall a new market square begins to emerge – future foreigners will therefore be very confused about the terms “wallside” and “marketside”. The new market square encompasses even the area to the east of the Church of St. Dubnus, which got an overwhaul and now faces east. In front of the church a few marketstalls have already opened.

William Hayston, a wealthy man from a even wealthier family of salesmen, builds an impressive house near the wallside of the townhall; showing his wealth and power.

Before the last cross was hung on the wall in 1420 the bishop decided to enlarge the cathedral. Mostly financed by wealthy donars, who want to avoid the plague and hell by donating to the church, the building is mostly enlarged eastwards, whereas the westside gains mostly more decorative elements and a few more chambers for the clergy. The cathedral is a large construction site by the end of the decade.

The canal in west of the palisades is completed and connects Hollow Wood castle with the St. Dubnus river. Some flooding occurs in the low-altitude ditches and slopes surrounding the castle.

The newly created island that rests west of the palisades and south of the Castle and former jousting arena is named Westburgh in 1433.

John Stonewall, third son of Sir James Stonewall of Holly, constructs a quaint manor home in Westburgh, and marks the boundary of his home and farm with hedgerow.

A bridge between Merdin and Westburgh begins construction in 1437.

Merdin is given a town charter by King Henry VI in 1438.

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The Burgesses of the town, having the right to elect 7 Aldermen who also serve as justices of the Peace, of whom the leader shall be the Mayor, begin to keep records in this time of the regular borough courts held in the Town Hall.

A local merchant, returning from London, presents to the Aldermen of the city a proposal that the city should join the prosperous trading network of cities encircling the North Sea, The Hanseatic League. In 1447 the council dispatch an envoy to Lubec to discuss terms

The Burghers of Blackborough, meeting in the `Jolly Pony` tavern, near the St Dubnus bridge, announce the formation of a Guild. Combining the blacksmiths, tanners and merchants of the city, it represents the majority of the small but burgeoning merchant class in the city.

They immediately proceed to look for more commodious lodgings for their Guild.

The St Dubnus bridge is increasingly becoming a residential area in its own right, of less than salubrious character. Characterised by unsafe structures that are of extremely poor construction, that often overhang the edges of the bridge and seem to hover above the water itself.

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In 1449, privateers under the pay of the French crown, briefly land a small force in Northbridge, making off with crops and burning some buildings. The king, petitioned by the Burgesses of the town, grants funds to construct a small boatyard. By years end an extremely modest yard with a single berth is underconstruction with plans for a royal barge, named the `Gracious Henry`, to protect the river.

The Lord of the castle petitions the King for sole hunting rights in the forest to the north. This is granted with very little reference to the acutal boundaries of the grant. The townsfolk are much discontented.

The Guild of Blackborough purchase a patch of bare land in the east of the village, including the hovels of a small number of the residents. Plans are drawn up for a Guildhall in the plot, with the best German architect brought in to plan a suitably grand building

The lord of the Manor of Stonewall dies, leaving a number of bequests in his will. One, is for the chantry of the newly constructed Cathedral of St Canute to say prayers for his immortal soul, another is a sum of money for a school to be built `for the betterment of the poor children of the district`

As the decade progresses, increading numbers of slaughterhouses spring up beneath the castle gates to deal with the growth in cattle driven in from the north. The Guild of Blackborough considers the construction of a dedicated meat market-cum-slaughterhouse.

A small wooden footbridge is built by cattle drivers for the ease of access to the markets

In 1469, after decades the castle of Blackborough finally is a mighty stronghold again. The southern and eastern walls are finally finished and the moat now tightly follows the shape of the castle, reducing the risk of an successful attack.

It really is a nice Gothic looking castle – very pointy and all that. The lords daughter-in-law speaks about some new fashions from Italy. To quote the lord: “Mathilda, I don’t believe that this architecture will ever go out of fashion. What do these snobby Italians call this new stuff again? It is unpronounceable.”

The old bridge that connects the castle with the town is replaced by a heavily fortified stone bridge with guard houses on the other side of the moat. Some areas that were formerly needed for defence purposes are now converted into gardens for the noble family and their guests.

A bridge connects Hollowstone with Westburgh and a palisade is build to defend the settlement, which becomes part of Blackborough. In close proximity to the castle the Great Guild Hall of the town is build.

These are two decades of great growth for Blackborough. The four main areas of growth are:

Westburgh: this island is now the home of the Great Guild hall and close to Hollowstone and all travelers from the west have to pass it when entering the town.

Castle Street: the area between Hollowstone and the Roman fort is one of the most important and most prestigious streets of the town.

The Docklands: a poorer area of the town it is nevertheless growing. Here live the Jews, the fishers and workers of Blackborough.

Market Square: some docks are build here and a ferry house. This area is the centre of commerce. Market stalls stand on this square in front of the townhall, St. Dubnus Church and the river.

A Grammar school is built. This is the first building solely dedicated to education. Previously pupils met in various locations, often in st. Dubnus Church or a wealthy merchant home.

The school’s location on the main street was choosen because it lays in the middle of the homes of the two families that financed it – the Stonewalls and the Haystons.

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