Deira probably emerged early in the period known as the "Coming of the English", the colonisation of Great Britain by Germanic tribes from the end of the fifth century. The Deirans as a kingdom may have arisen as Anglian settlers conquered the Derwent Valley in the third quarter of the fifth century. The Kingdom of the Deirans extended from the Humber northwards to the River Tees, and from the sea to the western edge of the Vale of York and later beyond. It was in effect the prototype of Yorkshire.
The Deirans are known in Old English as the Dere, and the kingdom was Dera rice. The name "Deira" is a Latinised form, probably just imitating the English pronunciation.
The name of the kingdom appears though to be of the British language in origin, perhaps from Deifr, meaning "waters", or from Daru, meaning "oak", in which case it would mean "the people of the Derwent", a derivation also found in the Latin name for Malton; Derventio. It is tempting to see something of the Old English verb derian, meaning "to injure" but apart from warlike connotations, etymologists do not see an obvious root in the word.
According to Simeon of Durham (writing early in the 12th century) Deira extended from the Humber to the Tyne, but the land was waste north of the Tees. The major seat of the kingdom came to be York, a major city of Britain under the Romans and the British kingdoms following them. The British name for the city, Ebrauc, became Anglicised to Eoforwic, which echoes the old name but also means "Boar-settlement".
The first recorded King of the Deirans was Ælla, who flourished in the later 6th century after conquering the realm from the Britons in 581. After his death, Deira was subject to king Æthelfrith of the Bernicians, who united the two kingdoms into Northumbria. Æthelfrith ruled until the accession of Ælla's son Edwin, in 616 or 617, who also ruled both kingdoms until 633.
After Edwin's death his nephew Osric ruled the Deirans, but his son Oswine was put to death by Oswy of Northumbria in 651. For a few years subsequently Deira was governed by Æthelwald son of Oswald of Bernicia.
Bede wrote of Deira in his Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (completed in 731). In one famous narrative Bede records, Pope Gregory was struck by a group of handsome slaves in the market. Learning that they were Angles he said "non angli sed angeli" (not "Angles but Angels") and hearing that they were from Deira, he said that they would be delivered de ira (from wrath). (There is no record though that they were delivered from slavery.)
Kings of Deira
|559/560 to 589||Aella
|ÆLLA YFFING DEIRA CYNING
ÆLLA REX DEIRA
|589/599 to 604||Aethelric
|ÆÞELRIC IDING BERNICIA 7 DEIRA CYNING
ÆÞELRIC REX BERNICIA ET DEIRA
|593/604? to 616||Aethelfrith||ÆÞELFERÞ ÆÞELRICING DEIRA CYNING
ÆÞELFERÞ REX DEIRA
|Killed in battle|
|616 to 12/14 October 632||Edwin||EDVVIN ÆLLING BERNICIA 7 DEIRA CYNING
EDVVIN REX BERNICIA ET DEIRA
|Killed in battle by Cadwallon ap Cadfan of Gwynedd and Penda of the Mercians|
|late 633 to summer 634||Osric]]||OSRIC ÆLFRICING DEIRA CYNING
OSRIC REX DEIRA
|633 to 5 August 642||Oswald (St Oswald)||OSVVALD BERNICIA 7 DEIRA CYNING
OSVVALD REX BERNICIA ET DEIRA
|Killed by Penda of Mercia|
|642 to 644||Oswiu (Oswy)||OSVVIO ÆÞELFRIÞING BERNICIA 7 DEIRA CYNING
OSVVIO REX BERNICIA ET DEIRA
|644 to 651||Oswine||OSVVINE OSRICING DEIRA CYNING
OSVVINE REX DEIRA
|summer 651 to late 654 or 655||Æthelwold||ÆÞELVVALD OSVVALDING DEIRA CYNING
ÆÞELVVALD REX DEIRA
|654 to 15 August 670||Oswiu||OSVVIO ÆÞELFERÞING NORÞANHYMBRA CYNING
OSVVIO REX NORÞANHYMBRA
|656 to 664||Alchfrith||ALCHFRIÞ DEIRA CYNING
ALCHFRIÞ REX DEIRA
|670 to 679||Aelfwine||ÆLFVVINE DEIRA CYNING
ÆLFVVINE REX DEIRA
- McCarthy, Mike. "An Early Historic Kingdom near the Solway". 2014. The History Files. http://www.historyfiles.co.uk/KingListsBritain/EnglandDeira.htm. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
- Higham, p. 98
- Higham, p. 81
- Higham, N.J. (1993). The Kingdom of Northumbria AD 350-1100. Stroud: Sutton. ISBN 0-86299-730-5
- Mackenzie, E.; Ross, M. (1834), An Historical, Topographical, and Descriptive View of the County Palatine of Durham, I, Newcastle upon Tyne: Mackenzie and Dent, p. xi, http://books.google.com/?id=azEQAAAAYAAJ, retrieved 2008-07-23
- Geake, Helen & Kenny, Jonathan (eds.) (2000). Early Deira: Archaeological studies of the East Riding in the fourth to ninth centuries AD. Oxford: Oxbow. ISBN 1-900188-90-2