King Ina story

 This story is told on the audio-tour of Somerton, made by Alan Locke in 1995. We do not know where the story came from but it is a good indication of the 'royal' status of the town:


The important King Ina of Wessex (688-728) is said to have been a Somerton lad. “King Caedwalla of the West Saxons went off on a pilgrimage to Rome in 688 A.D. and died there.  No-one knew who should be the next King.  The Saxons were warrior tribes and needed a king to rule over them and organise the fighting against neighbouring Saxons and the Danes and the Mercians..  In the end, the bishops in London held a meeting and prayed to God, and came to understand that they should find a man called Ina to be King of Wessex.  They didn’t know anyone called Ina, so they sent out messengers to all parts of the kingdom to find someone called Ina.  No one called Ina could be found.  Some of the messengers were near Somerton on their way back to London when they met a farmer going out to call his son in from the fields.  They saw this farmer lean over a gate and call out, “ Ina, Ina.”  A handsome, fair-haired young man appeared leading in the horses.  The messengers knew they had found the right man to lead the West Saxons and told him he had been chosen to be King Ina.”

 No-one knows whether this story is true, but it is true that King Ina ruled for 37 years, fighting, founding monasteries and making good laws, the oldest written law in English. His ‘witan’ or council met at Somerton at least once.  King Ina’s laws helped King Alfred the Great form his code of laws for the whole of England.