Sussex Castles




Earl Swein's Exiles


1046 Earl Swein abducts an Abbess

In 1046, to celebrate a raiding trip into Wales, Earl Swein had abducted the Eadgifu, Abbess of Leominster as his concubine. Aghast at Swein’s actions, the king confiscated Swein’s land and exiled him. Swein’s land was divided between his brother Earl Harold and his cousin, Earl Beorn.

1049 Earl Swein pleads with King Edward

In 1049, Swein landed at Bosham with 8 ships and traveled to Sandwich to petition King Edward for some land so that he might support himself. The king offered some of Harold’s and some of Beorn’s land to Swein. Harold and Beorn were not much impressed by the Kings generosity and refused to cooperate.  Harold, Beorn and Swein sailed to Pevensey on the Godwine fleet of 42 ships. 

1049 Earl Swein abducts and kills his cousin

At Pevensey, Swein pleaded again for help from Earl Godwine, his sons Harold, Tostig and their cousin Beorn. In a moment of weakness, Beorn agreed to try and help. Swein, thinking he could improve his situation, deceived his cousin into riding to Bosham where Swein's ships were anchored, rather than back to Sandwich and the King. In Bosham, Swein abducted and killed Beorn.  The king declared Swein a “nithing” and exiled him again.

Harold later recovered Beorn’s body so that it could be buried in Winchester. Swein escaped with 2 ships to Flanders. He was later rehabilitated with the king by Aldred, Bishop of Worcester, but he remained landless until his death returning from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. 

Sussex Timeline