For the place, see Gyrwe.

Gyrwas was the name of an Anglo-Saxon population of the Fens, divided into northern and southern groups and recorded in the Tribal Hidage; related to the name of Jarrow.

Hugh Candidus, a 12th-century chronicler of Peterborough Abbey, describes its foundation in the territory of the Gyrwas, under the name of Medeshamstede. Medeshamstede was clearly in the territory of the North Gyrwas.[1] Hugh Candidus explains Gyrwas, which he uses in the present tense, as meaning people "who dwell in the fen, or hard by the fen, since a deep bog is called in the Saxon tongue Gyr".[2] The territory of the South Gyrwas included Ely. Æthelthryth founded Ely monastery after the death of her husband Tondberht, who is described in Bede's Ecclesiastical History as a "prince of the South Gyrwas".[3] Bede also described Bishop Thomas of Dunwich, in East Anglia, as having been "from the province of the Gyrwas", and deacon to his predecessor Felix.[4]


  1. Potts, W.T.W., 'The Pre-Danish Estate of Peterborough Abbey', in Proceedings of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society 65, 1974: this paper contains some substantive errors, but is of interest.
  2. Mellows, William Thomas (ed. & trans.), The Peterborough Chronicle of Hugh Candidus, Peterborough Natural History, Scientific and Archæological Society, 1941, p2
  3. Bede, Ecclesiastical History, iv, 19
  4. Bede, op. cit., iii, 20.
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