The Anathemata

Angle-land (continued)

whose own the Island’s approaches are

that kept her?

Was the Foreland?

was the Elbow?

under fog.

He might have been deeped in the Oaze!1


by the brumous numen drawn on


in precleara visibility

by the invisible wind laboured

it might have been Dogger or Well

to bank her a mound

without a sheet to wrap her

without a shroud to her broken back.

Past where they placed their ingas-namesb

where they speed the coulterc deep

in the open Engel fields

to this day.

How many polesd

of their broad Angle hidage

to the small scattered plots, to the lightly furrowed erwau,2

that once did quilt Boudicca’se róyal gwely?3

David Jones notes

1 Cf. Oaze Deep, an area of water so named in the mouth of the Thames.

2 Erwau, plural of erw, acre; érr-wye (err as in the Latin errare), accent on first syllable. Not in fact an acre or any fixed unit, but land equally divided among the members of a plough-team under the Celtic system of co-aration.

3 gwely, gwel-ly, bed, but also used of the collective lands of a group. Typical Celtic ploughing was less deep than that of subsequent invaders.

additional notes

Foreland: North Foreland, a chalk headland at the eastern end of the Kent coast.

The Elbow: a sandy ridge situated about 2 miles east of North Foreland.

Dogger Bank: a large sandbank in a shallow area of the North Sea about 100 kilometres (62 miles) off the east coast of England.

Well Bank: another sandbank lying about 110 kilometres (70 miles) east of Hull. The boat is now some way up the length of Britain and some way out to sea.

b Saxon English place names ending in -ings denote either a patronymic or a group designation.

d A pole is a unit of length, 5.5 yards (5 metres), but is often used as a measure of area of 1 (square) pole, i.e. 30.25 square yards or 25 square metres. A hide was enough land to support a household, usually between 60-120 acres (24-48 hectares). A hide of good land was smaller than one of poor quality.

e Boudicca was a queen of the British Iceni tribe who led an uprising against the occupying forces of the Roman Empire. Born in Wales in 30 CE, she killed herself rather than be taken by the Romans in battle in 61 CE.


semantic structures


a preclear: very clear.

c coulter: a ploughshare that can cut and turn the sod.