Most of the places I pass on local walks have only small scale, local histories. Yesterday a stroll down the Grand Union Canal took me to a spot which had a brief moment of national importance. Walking along a slightly different section of the canal to usual I found myself in Peace Meadow.
Although I was familiar with the history of the area, Peace Meadow itself was new to me. An information board told me that the site had been bought by the local council in 2012, extending Tiddenfoot Waterside Park at Linslade (Bedfordshire) to the opposite bank of the canal. The meadow was given its name as a reminder that a peace treaty had been agreed at Tiddenfoot, then known as Yttingaford, between the Anglo-Saxon King Edward the Elder and the Danes in the year 906. After the death of King Alfred, the great king’s son Edward had continued his father’s fight against the Danes. The early years of Edward’s reign were difficult. In 902 he fought the bloody Battle of the Holme, and in 906 he found it necessary to make peace with the Danes of East Anglia and Northumbria.
The event is recorded only by a brief entry in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, but it is not hard to see why Tiddenfoot might have been chosen for a meeting between Danes and Anglo-Saxons. The edge of the Danelaw ran for some way along or close to nearby Watling Street, making Leighton (which had not yet gained the Buzzard part of its name) a convenient border settlement. Tiddenfoot itself was handily accessible, being located at the point where an ancient salt route known as the Theed Way, or Thiodweg, crossed the River Ousel. After its moment in the 10th century spotlight Tiddenfoot passed into obscurity and the Theed Way was rerouted through the town of Leighton. It is good to see that 1100 years later there is now a public space to commemorate its place in history.