This small picturesque village is situated near the large town of Heswall and is surrounded by dense
woods, whilst the village itself sits on a outcrop of yellow sandstone. The name is thought to derive
from a Saxon Chieftain meaning "Beorna's Town". The Doomsday book records the village as comprising
of a Manor House, 2 Mills and a Hospital.
Wirral during the Triassic period much nearer the equator, a time of hot, dry deserts, a time when the
three colour types of Wirral sandstone, red, yellow and white, were deposited. Strange creatures
roamed the land leaving their footprints to be exposed centuries later...
These deposits were later faulted by earth movements, even later great ice sheets advanced and
retreated, scouring the surface depositing red and grey clay over the sandstone, huge boulders of hard
granite were uplifted from as far afield as Scotland and left behind when the ice melted.
The evidence for all these prehistoric events lie all around us. The soft easily weathered yellow
sandstone as we drive through the Dale, the Church built of white sandstone, quarried from Storeton,
where the kangaroo-like Cheirotherum left its footprints, and the granite boulder popularly known as
the 'Barn Stone' swept from Scotland, and now resting by Beech Farm, all testify to its dramatic past.
There is little evidence for the occupation of Barnston by early man, one worked flint implement, a
Roman fibula (cloak fastener), and occasional coins being the only hard evidence of man's presence. The
village like many other Wirral villages was set on an outcrop of sandstone with access to a good water
supply, the stream in the bottom of the Dale. Local traditions of a Viking battle in the Dale owe their
origin to Nicholas Size's book (published in 1933) "Ola the Russian" in which he gives the following
account of the army gathering before the fight which was for the hand of a princess from Ireland.
"By ten o' clock almost the whole army was marching to Thingwall, only Kolbiorn and a few men remaining to
guard the ships. Before noon half Wirral gathered in Barnston Vale; bare-headed men with short loose
breeches and close fitting jackets were in the majority; many of them wore cloaks, and for footwear they had
rough raw-hide shoes fastened with laces. Their clothing was all made of wool or leather and it was evident
that the wool of black sheep stood in highest favour. They all wore belts and daggers if they were freemen
and many of them carried a quarter staff as well"
From the same period but with greater credibility is the claim of nearby Bromborough as the site in 937
of the Battle of Brunaburh, which is recorded, in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.
"In this year King Athelstan, lord of nobles, dispenser of treasure to men, and his brother also, Edmund
Atheling, won by the sword's edge undying glory in battle round Brunaburh. Edwards's sons clove the shield-
wall, hewed the linden-wood shields with hammered swords, for it was natural to men of their lineage to
defend their land, their homes, in frequent battle against every foe. Their enemies perished; the people of the
Scots and the pirates fell doomed. The field grew dark with the blood of men. Then the Norsemen, the sorry
survivors from the spears put out in their studded ships on to Ding's mere, to make for Dublin across the
deep water, back to Ireland. They left behind them the dusky-coated one, the black raven with its horned
beak to share the corpses, and the dun-coated, white tailed eagle, the greedy war-hawk, to enjoy the carrion
and that grey beast, the wolf of the forest.
The two accounts, the one fictional and the other from one of the earliest English histories give a stirring
impression of the times, the Chronicle even giving an insight into the wildlife of Wirral, with its
description of ravens, wolves and white-tailed sea eagles. Barnston along with Pensby, Thingwall,
Landican, Arrowe, Woodchurch, Irby, Prenton, Noctorum, Oxton, made up the ‘Ten Townships’ as they
were known of Woodchurch Parish. Most of them were in existence and mentioned in the Domesday
book of 1086
The full entry for Barnston reads:-
Ralph holds from him. Ravenswart and Leafgeat held it as two manors; they were free men. 1 hide
paying tax Land for 2 ploughs. In lordship 1; 2 ploughmen; 3 smallholders. Barnston is mentioned in the
Domesday Book as Bernestone and comprised two mills, a manor house and a hospital
Barnston today is a village on the Wirral Peninsula, Merseyside, England. Administratively, the village is
located in the Pensby & Thingwall Ward of the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral and the parliamentary
constituency of Wirral West. Barnston is situated to the north east of nearest town Heswall.
Formerly a township in Woodchurch Parish, Wirral Hundred, its population was 129 in 1801, 239 in 1851,
522 in 1901 and 832 in 1951.
In 1974, local government reorganisation in England and Wales resulted in most of Wirral, including
Barnston, transfer from the county of Cheshire to Merseyside.
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