Grimsby’s Romantic Origin, Lincolnshire
Though the stark beauty of the North Sea provides a wonderful backdrop to the town, the famed fishing port of Grimsby in Lincolnshire may not spring to mind immediately as a place of romance and legend. But the tale of its foundation is full of wonderful elements of ancient storytelling, has been related since at least the thirteenth century, and according to some contains elements of truth.
What is sure is that Grimsby was a Danish settlement, established in the ninth century or thereabouts (though there would surely have been some others living there before the arrival of the Norsemen).
According to the legend a Danish fisherman, Grim, founded the place. In his Danish home by the sea Grim is given a baby boy by the powerful Earl Godard, with instructions to take him to sea and drown the child. Grim in fear sets out to fulfil his orders, but at the moment of setting the babe on the water relents, and decides to bring the child up as his own. The first night as the child lies sleeping in his hut Grim and his wife see a royal birthmark on his shoulder, and are amazed to see light shining from the suckling’s mouth. Realising this is Havelock, the son of the recently dead King Birkabeyn who had been given to the care of Godard, Grim knows it will be necessary to flee the county. So Grim, his wife, and the baby sail across the North Sea and land at Grimsby where they establish the settlement.
At the same time as Grim was saving the baby, in the South of England King Athelwold dies, leaving his daughter Goldborough in the care of Godrich, Earl of Cornwall , with instructions she should marry the strongest man in England when of age. Naturally Athelwold meant the most powerful noble or prince, but the devious Godrich, intent on maintaining his own power, eventually marries her off – much to Goldborough’s displeasure - to a peasant lad in Lincoln who has by his athletic feats won the reputation as England’s strongest man - Havelock.
But Godrich is confounded: on their wedding night Goldborough sees the birthmark and the light shining from Havelock’s mouth. She questions Grim and the truth is revealed. With a good woman behind him Havelock returns to Denmark and seizes the throne; then back in England he deals with those who have usurped Goldborough’s legacy. As king and queen of England and Denmark they reign happily for many decades, and raise a huge family to boot.
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