SIWARD. Earl of Northumbria. (Ealred Bjornsson)(Sigurd the Dane). Earl of Northumbria, Huntingdon and Northampton. Also known as The Saxon.

Born about 990; son of BJORN Ulfsson.

Some historians suggest that Siward arrived in England with King Canute and that Canute invested the title and position of Earl of York onto him in 1031. At the time Canute was replacing all the old Anglo-Saxon nobility with his own trusted men. {S2}.

Siward served as a general to King Harthacanute (second son of King Canute) and Edward the Confessor, and gained great renown for his skills as a soldier.

He married (1) Aefflaed of Bernicia in 1033. Siward's marriage into the Northumbrian royal house, after winning their admiration as a warrior, by taking Aelflaed, granddaughter of Uhtred, former Earl of Northumbria, as his wife, strengthened his own position in that domain. Some sources say that through this marriage, Siward was then distantly related to Duncan. This relation to the Scottish royal family would later affect the landscape of Scottish politics.

Siward was encouraged to settle disputes between his deputies Carl the Hold of York and Ealdred the Earl of Bamburgh, but was ultimately unsuccessful. The dispute began in 1016 when Uchtred the Bold was murdered by Carl's father Thurbrand the Hold during the meeting with King Canute . Ealdred had been Earl (only of Bernicia) since the death of his brother Eadulf Cudel, Uhtred's oldest son, sometime after 1019. Ealdred ended up killing Thurband the Hold ot avenge his father and in turn Carl the Hold killed Ealdred.

In 1041 Eadulf III of Bernicia, the Earl of the North-East, was killed. The assailant was probably Siward, who became Earl of Northumbria. Siward continued to rule all of Northumbria (including Bernicia) from 1041 until his death in 1055. His marrige produced two sons, the older Osberne and the younger Waltheof.

Through marriage, Siward became either the uncle or the brother-in-law of Malcolm Canmore (one text erroneously calls him his grandfather). Following Macbeth's defeat of Malcolm's father King Duncan I in 1040, the infant Malcolm was sent to Northumbria to be guarded by Siward. Siward provided protection, shelter and military training for the future Scottish ruler. (S2).

He married (2) Godgifu. (S1).

In 1053, Edward the Confessor agreed to assist the now adult Malcolm in taking the throne of Scotland, and designated Siward as leader of the English army (over 10,000 strong).(S2).

In 1054 Siward led the English invasion of Scotland. He defeated Macbeth's forces when the two armies clashed on July 27 (some historians suggest that Siward's army disguised their attack by concealing themselves behind tree branches and wood "used as camouflage" from nearby Birnam forest). The battle occurred somewhere north of the Firth of Forth. The Annals of Ulster reported that the Battle of Dunsinane left 3000 Scots and 1500 English dead. Thus, the incursion was met with limited success, even though it succeeded in capturing the fortress of Dunsinane.(S2).

…the 21 year old Malcolm advanced on Scotland by land and by sea. His army was led by a Northumbria-Danish warlord named Siward. The English met little resistance from the Scots in the lowlands, and were met by Macbeth just outside Scone, the Scotish capitol. This was the famous battle in which supposedly “Birnam woods do come to Dunsinane.” (S1).

No doubt accompanied by his Norse allies—the Lord of Orkney was his cousin—Macbeth put up a stiff fight. But the Annals of Ulstar maintain that 3,00 Scots were killed, and 1,500 English and Danes slain. Still, it was far from a victory, and Siward had to withdraw his troops from Scotland, Malcolm being content with lordship over Cumbria. (S1).

Although Macbeth's army suffered heavy losses, Macbeth himself managed to escape North and continued to rule for another three years until his final and decisive defeat in 1057 at the Battle of Lumphanan.(S2).

Siward's oldest son, Osberne, and his son-in-law were killed during the campaign in Scotland. (S2).

The next year, in 1055, Siward died, and in 1057 Malcolm alone had to lead the battle against Macbeth. {S1, S2)

Siward died in York in early 1055, never seeing the final defeat of Macbeth. Siward himself deeply regretted dying like a cow, and not having been killed in battle. He is reputed to have risen from his death-bed and donned his armour to meet his end more fittingly. Siward is reputedly buried at St Olave's Church, York, which he is said to have founded. (S2).

Rumoured to be a man of unusual strength and size (some referring to him as a "giant") it was traditionally said that Siward grandfather was a bear and Siward himself was the dragon-slayer of Orkney. In the 20th century excavations were made of Siward's grave. Supposedly these revealed a skeleton of a man who would have been 6'7" tall. (S2).

As Siward's oldest son Osberne died in the Scottish campaign and Waltheof being only 10 at the time of father's death, Tostig became Siward's successor as Earl of Northumbria. (S2).

WIFE (1):
AEFFLAED of Bernicia.
Daughter of EALRED of Bernicia, Lord of Bamburgh.

  1. OSBEORN. Killed in 1054.
  2. AELFLAED. (Sybil). She married DUNCAN I, The Gracious, in 1030.
  3. WALTHEOF. First Earl of Huntingdon. He married JUDITH of Normandy in 1070. He was executed on 31 MAY 1076 at St. Giles Hill.

WIFE (2):

  1. ?