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Haverhill was named after a Pirate

TODAY (1971) Haverhill's future depends on the movement of people from the London area to our town. Over 1,000 years ago the movement was in the opposite direction, from Haverhill to London. This movement was led by a rascally pirate Haver, from which Haverhill derives it's name.

No other man connected with the town has ever had so much power. From a marauding Danish pirate Haver rose to conquer much of England and even defeat the noble Alfred the Great in battle.

Haver was the son of one of the greatest Danish warriors, Ragnor Lodbrook and his Norwegian wife. His real name was Hjalmar but because of his mixed parentage the Danes nicknamed him Halfdane or Halver. When he arrived in England the men fighting him soon corrupted Halver to Haver, which meant he-goat, because of his beard and helmet.

Haver came to England for the first time in 850AD with his father and brothers on a scavenging expedition, raiding a few coastal settlements and looting. He continued terrorising the coast for about fifteen years until in 866AD he settled in East Anglia and made peace with the people. After supplying himself and his relations from the land, Haver moved North and conquered Northumberland, his father being killed in the fighting. Returning South he found the East Anglians had grown tired of their unwelcome visitors and had to fight to regain his position, killing King Edmund, now immortalised in Bury St. Edmunds, in 869AD.

It was about this time that he came to our town and built an outpost here. Never satisfied with his gains Haver planned further plunder and conquests. Convincing his enemies that he was leaving England, Haver and his warriors sailed away into the North Sea, and then doubled back and along the Thames. Before anyone knew what happened he arrived at Reading. After a series of savage attacks Haver had conquered Wessex and Alfred was forced to sue for peace.

Haver was now virtual ruler of much of England and settled himself for a short while at London where he had coins being his name and head minted. Unfortunately our Haver was never satisfied and in 879AD the lure of rich monasteries for plunder drew him back to Ireland where his fleet came unstuck in the Strangford Loch near Belfast and Haver was drowned.

NB: A web search did not find any hits for Hjalmar Lodbrook, but his father turned up at
This article is as printed in "The Haverhill Echo" sometime in 1971. Reproduced for information purposes only.
Thanks to Mal Thomas of Perth, Western Australia for suppling the above article.
Page Last Updated : 07 January 2001

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