Herta's Isle - The Island of Hertha

hartleyfamilyorguk believes there are several British islands that have links to the surname HARTLEY. In Europe, there are many islands connected to the Goddess Hertha and these have links to Germanic surnames beginning with 'HART-'. These islands were places where the Mother Earth Goddess HERTHA, Goddess of Hunting, was worshipped.

The key elements associated with HERTHA worship are:

[1] An Island

[2] Hunting of Stags and Deer. The Stag is named after HERTHA, hence 'HART'.

[3] A forested area containing a clearing.

[4] A water source, a sacred well.

Islands in Britain linked to the worship of the Goddess Hertha:

+ the Isle of Harty: Isle of Sheppy, Kent.

We've all read and watched the Anglo-Saxon epic 'Beowulf' ... was HARTLEY derived from the Danish 'Hall of Mead' HEOROT in 'Beowulf', "the foremost of Halls under Heaven" ?

Palace for King Hroðgar hartleyfamilyorguk believes 'The Hall of HEOROT' was named after or was a place of worship to the Germanic-Saxon Goddess, HEOROTHA, the mother of the Norse God, THOR [HEORTE meaning FESTIVAL [see below]]. The Hall served as a Palace for King Hro­gar, believed to be a Danish King of the Sixth Century. Heorot means "Hall of the Hart" [stag/male deer]. The Geatish [Swedish] hero Beowulf defends the Royal Hall and its residents from the demonic Grendel [for Geats, see 1 and 2 on map below].

The Hall functioned both as a seat of government and as a residence for the King's Thanes [warriors]. Heorot symbolized human civilization and culture, as well as the might of the Danish Kings; essentially, all the good things in the world of Beowulf. Its brightness, warmth, and joy contrasted with the darkness of the swamp waters inhabited by Grendel.

Where was the location of the 'Hall of HEOROT'' ? Are there remains ?

heorot denmark The medieval chroniclers Saxo Grammaticus and Sven Aggesen wrote that the village of Lejre, near Roskilde in Denmark was the chief residence of Hro­gar's Skj÷ldung clan [called "Scylding" in the poem [Scythian?]]. The remains of a Viking Hall complex was uncovered southwest of Lejre in 1986-88 by Tom Christensen of the Roskilde Museum [see 4 on the map]. Wood from the foundation was radiocarbon-dated to about 880. It was later found that this Hall was built over an older Hall which has been dated to 680. In 2004-05, Christensen excavated a third Hall located just north of the other two.

This Hall was built in the mid-6th century, exactly the time period of Beowulf ! All three Halls were about 50 meters long. In Scandinavian sources, HEOROT corresponds to Hlei­argar­r, King Hro­ulf's [Hrˇlfr Kraki] Hall mentioned in Hrˇlf Kraki's saga, and located in Lejre.

isle of harty Another theory puts HEOROT on the Isle of Harty, now part of the Isle of Sheppey in North Kent, England. Several place-names [see Domesday Book, Kent, below] and archaeological features in the vicinity are said to correspond to locations or references in the poem. Archaeologist Paul Wilkinson has identified the Isle of Hart[y] as synonymous with HEOROT [HART LONDE]. Other place-names and archaeological features in the vicinity directly correspond to locations or references in the poem: landes-end, Warden, the straet, the fagne flor, and the Lathe of Scray, for instance. There are many more. 'straet' is particularly interesting as it is Old English for 'Roman road' and is a Germanic loan word from the Latin term via strata 'paved road'. There is still a Roman road leading uphill to the Roman villa complex/settlement on the Isle of Harty. Just along the coast is the Isle of Thanet [of the Thanes [Saxon Warriors]] where Hengest and Horsa set up their headquarters. Two local areas today are Harty Marshes and Leysdown Marshes.

Many of the details of Beowulf's adventure seem to fit a voyage from Scandinavia to Kent. The sea journey from the mouth of the Rhine to Britain was estimated by the 1st/2nd century writer Plutarch to be about 36 hours. Beowulf sighted land on the morning of the second day [the second morning]. If, as would be normal, he had sailed on the evening tide, his journey would have taken 36 hours. Beowulf's first sighting of land is of `sea-cliffs shining, shores steep, broad sea-nesses.' Best landfall on the coast of Britain from the mouth of the Rhine is either at North Foreland on Thanet, or at Sheerness cliffs. The North Foreland displays an optical trick of `shining' when the rising sun strikes the white chalk of the cliffs; in fact in pre-dawn light the cliffs can shine quite dramatically whilst the surrounding ocean is still in darkness, a phenomenon remarked upon by early mariners. Sheerness cliffs display the same natural phenomenon, and the Anglo-Saxon place-name emphasises the point - Sheerness means `bright headland'. Beowulf's voyage ends at a place called Land's End, which interestingly is the name today of a small sea-inlet just to the north of Harty. Above it, the cliffs are called Warden Point, a name recorded from at least the 12th century. In Beowulf, the `warden' of an important Jute/Germanic household stands on the cliffs above Land's End, sees Beowulf's approaching ship and picks his way down to the shore to greet the young warrior. The warden accompanies Beowulf until the hall, Heorot, comes into view. He then leaves him to continue along the `straet' that `climbs up' to the building. Straet is Old English for a Roman road [from Latin via strata, a paved way]. There are no Roman roads in Jutland, but there is one on the Isle of Harty, leading uphill to a Roman villa or settlement on the island. The road was surveyed recently by the Swale Archaeological Survey. It makes sense that Hrothgar's hall was a former Roman villa. On arrival at the hall, Beowulf strides across a `fagne flor' [fine/flagged floor] which the Anglo-Saxon place-name specialist Margaret Gelling suggests [in Signposts to the Past] `could denote the floor of a Roman building which, whether paved or tessellated, would be more elaborate than those of Anglo-Saxon buildings'.

What was the 'Hall of HEOROT' like ?

hall of heorot [illustration: Alan Lee 1984]. The building was like a palace. It towered high, as tall as a cliff. It was large enough to allow Hro­gar to present Beowulf with a gift of eight horses, each with gold-plate headgear. The gables were shaped like the HORNS OF THE HART. People from neighbouring tribes respectfully contributed to the rich decorations and intricate designs.

+ Hardy's Island: Mersey, Lancashire-Cheshire border.

The HARTLEY Family of Chorlton-cum-Hardy in Manchester derived their name from 'Hearda's Island' at Chorlton, 'HERTHA'S ISLAND', an island where the Earth Goddess Hertha was celebrated and worshipped.
Chorlton is also referred to as Chorlton-cum-Hardy and is now a suburb of the City of Manchester, Lancashire. Chorlton is thought to be derived from Ceorl, perhaps named after King Ceorl, or from the Saxon meaning Freeman or Common man [see Alderman Ceorl of Devonshire; Ceolwulf, King of Mercia and Kent; King of Northumberland; King of Wessex; King of Denmark; Ceorl, Ceolwulf's brother, King of Mercia]. The names Carl, Karl and Charles are also thought to come from Ceorl. Ceolfrith was an Abbot at the time of Bede c.650-750.
Hardy is thought to refer to 'Hearda's Island', south of Chorlton, which hartleyfamilyorguk believes was actually 'Hertha's Island', derived from the Earth Goddess, Hertha, and so is connected with the origins of the surname, HARTLEY [see: Who are the HARTLEYs?]. Hearda's Island would have been a 30 metres high, level area of land, surrounded by marshland, the Eeas, often flooded by the River Mersey. Today's Chorlton and Hardy both stand on raised areas, divided by a stream that runs into the Mersey. In the Textus Roffensis, HARTLEY is referred to as HERDIE, which hartleyfamilyorguk believes became Hardy in the place-name, Chorlton-cum-Hardy [or Chorlton-with-Hardy].
So in this context, the surname HARTLEY is derived from 'Heardanleah', from 'Hertha's Island' in the North of England; in the same way HARTLEY is derived from the 'Isle of Harty ['Hertha's Island'], on the Isle of Sheppey' in Kent, the South of England. The Earth Goddess Hertha would have been worshipped on both islands in the same way as she was worshipped on the Island of RŘgen in the Baltic. Hertha was brought to England by Germanic-Saxons.
In Domesday, HARTLEY is recorded as ERCLEI and hartleyfamilyorguk believes this lead to the surnames De HARCLA, HARCLAY etc., both earlier versions of the surname HARTLEY.
It is interesting to note, off Hardy Lane at Chorlton-cum-Hardy is Cundiff Road; this could be corrupted from CUNDLIFF, a surname linked to the HARTLEY Family at Wycoller Hall [see HARTLEY History page].

+ the Isle of Hirta [St Kilda - aka Hiort] 57░54'36"N - 57░46'N
one of an isolated island archipelago 64 kilometres west-northwest of North Uist in the North Atlantic, containing the westernmost islands of the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, four volcanic islands: Hirta, Dun, Soay and Boreray. Inhabited for thousands of years, and by the Norse-Vikings, the island was abandoned in the 1930's. The local Soay sheep is the most primitive domesticated animal in Europe, dating unchanged from Neolithic times. 1,400 cleits, turf-covered stone storage huts, have been found all over the islands. The shape of a cleit looks like an upturned hull of a boat; its bows, the round end of the hut; its stern, the upright rear end; its bottom the flat roof. They were used for air drying salted fish and meat [skeo or skio] and storage of crops. Corbelled huts are also found in Halland and Bohuslńn in Sweden.
No saint is known by the name of Kilda; Kilda is derived from 'Kelda' meaning 'water, a well, a spring'.

One cleit is named 'the Amazon', named after a female warrior who hunted the now submerged land between the Outer Hebrides and Hirta [also named on Harris]. Amazons are associated with a region bordering Scythia in Sarmatia. Norse female warriors include the Valkyrie and Shieldmaidens. 'Hirtir' means 'Stag' in Norse; the shape of Hirta is thought to be stag-like.

Hertha's Well on Hirta [photo Copyright RCAHMS] ... there was a nearby altar for offerings.

Temple of Artemis, Ephesus; Artemis was the Greek goddess, the virginal huntress and twin of Apollo daughter of Zeus and Leto. She was the Hellenic goddess of forests and hills, childbirth, virginity, fertility, the hunt, and often was depicted as a huntress carrying a bow and arrows. The deer and the cypress were sacred to her.

Worship of a wooden image decorated in jewelry. Artemis is linked to Hecate, the Norse Hel, with 'The Wild Hunt'. Hel is the ruler of Helheim, the realm of the dead in the Underworld.


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Disclaimer: The information on this website about the Origins and History of the surname HARTLEY should not be read as hard facts, but, as is often the case in science, as a model in constant evolution based on the present knowledge and understanding [of the author]. Wherever historical evidence hasn't provided irrefutable answers, hartleyfamilyorguk has attempted to provide the most likely and logical hypothesis based on archeological, historical and linguistic evidence. These pages are being updated regularly to keep up with recent and ongoing studies, giving additional insights or rectifying possibly erroneous theories.
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