KNOWING THE WIRRAL IN THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY
WHAT THE LOCALS KNEW THAT THE CHRONICLERS DID NOT KNOW
According to the contemporary chroniclers of the fourteenth century, the area of northern Chester known as the Wirral was a refuge for lawbreakers and criminals who endangered those who traveled through the region. But if the Wirral were in fact a place for lawbreaking, the lawbreakers were more often than not the people in charge: foresters, administrative officials, and even the aristocratic landholders, and the most predatory aristocrat was the Earl of Chester, otherwise known in later times as Edward, the Black Prince. Though Edward rarely visited the Wirral, he established forest eyres for the purpose of raising money that could support his summer home at Shotwick, on the Wirral Peninsula. Such information identified by recent historians has implications for the hero of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, as he travels through the region before his fateful meeting with the Green Knight.