From Prehistoric to Tudor Times and from Norman Times Relics have been found on the Isle of Wight which indicate signs of life around 100,000 years ago, during the Ice Age and before the Isle of Wight actually became an Island. (It was then part of the mainland). There is also much evidence of inhabitation about 8,000 BC. The Solent was formed around 6,000 BC (about 8,000 years ago), creating what we now call the Isle of Wight, although the shape of the Island was somewhat different then. Neolithic (Stone Age) farming was on the Island around 3,000 BC. The Longstone at Brighstone is a Neolithic barrow marker. (A barrow is a large grave, sometimes containing things like weapons and tools for use in the after-life). In the Bronze Age, the Beaker people inhabited the Island (around 1,500 BC) Metal artefacts (bit and pieces) have been found at Arreton and Moon's Hill. 240 burial mounds from this period have been recorded. The remains of a Celtic fort (around 100 BC) can be seen on Chillerton Down. The Romans, commanded by Vespasian, conquered the Island in 43 A.D. and it was ruled by the Emperor Claudius. They set up farming communities based around villas, the remains of two can still be seen. One in Newport and one near Brading, which contains very good mosaic floors, and is often seen by visiting school parties. A lack of Roman fortifications on the Island tends to suggest that they lived in harmony with the local inhabitants - it was not uncommon for Romans to fortify an overnight camp. In 495, Cerdic, a Saxon chief and his son Henric invaded Britain and established the kingdom of West-Sax (Wessex). He also conquered the Isle of Wight and slew most of the inhabitants. He repopulated the Island with invited Jutes and Saxons and bestowed the Island on his two nephews, Stuff and Withgar. Life on the Island was then stable for about 150 years. In 661 the Island was conquered by Wulfer, king of Mercia. He gave it to Adelwach, king of Sussex, whom he had also conqered and made prisoner. In 686 Caedwalla, a direct descendant of Cerdic, took back the Island as his inheritance, wrongly taken by Wulfer. The inhabitants were not yet Christians and Caedwalla determined to root them out as idolaters and to re-people the Island with Christians. He was persuaded, by Bishop Wilfrid, to spare any who accepted the Christian faith and baptism. Given such a choice, it is highly probable that most accepted. The Island was the last place in England to receive Christianity. In 787 Danish pirates invaded, with plans to make the Island their retreat after raids on the mainland. In 897 a small fleet of Danish ships plundered the Island and set sail for the coast of Devon with their spoils. King Alfred followed with 9 ships and took 2 of their vessels, killing many men. Three others were driven onshore and their crews captured. They were taken to the King at Winchester, where they were hanged as public robbers. A hundred years later the Danes once again used the Island as a safe haven after raids along the south coast of England. On one particular raid the Danes set fire to several towns and villages in Somerset and Devon. Upon their return to the Island they burned more villages and a town called Wealtham. (This was probably Werrow, a large hamlet near Thorley, which was once a town. Foundations of very old buildings have been found indicating as much). In 1052, Earl Godwin, having been outlawed and banished by Edward the Confessor, was given a fleet by the Earl of Flanders. He raided and plundered the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth. He was then joined by his son, Harold, with 9 more ships and they again raided the Isle of Wight, taking almost everything which they had missed during the first raid. 1066 was the year the England fell to William the Conqueror and King Harold was killed. From then until 1295 the Island seems to have been peaceful. It was then that the French invasion began to threaten. King Edward (I) appointed wardens for the defense of the Island - the Bishop of Winchester, Adam de Gordon and Sir Richard Affeton, a gentleman of the Island, but no attack came until 1340. The French landed at St. Helens but were driven back to their ships by the Islanders. Sir Theobold Russell was killed during this action. There were no more raids until 1377, when the French laid seige to Carisbrooke Castle, which was at that time, under the command of Sir Hugh Tyrill. During the seige, a party of French soldiers on their way to the castle, were ambushed and killed. A tumulus, where the bodies were buried was somewhat triumphantly called "Noddies Hill" (a noddy being a body). The name was later corrupted to Node Hill and the tumulus was built upon. If anybody wonders why Node Hill is not a hill, this is the reason. The French could not subdue the Castle and withdrew, but extracted a payment from the locals of 1000 marks in return for not burning their houses. They also bound the inhabitants by oath, not to resist should they return to the Island within a year. In 1418 another French raid failed, repulsed by the inhabitants who re-took the French plunder and captured many prisoners. Not long after this, another French fleet arrived and demanded money. The Islanders refused, but invited the French to land without hindrance, refresh themselves for 6 hours and then to meet them in the field. The French declined the invitation and retired. In 1545 a French fleet of about 200 sail came upon the English fleet anchored off St. Helens. The English fleet retreated to the Channel, hoping that the French would follow. They did not. Instead, 2000 Frenchmen landed and began plundering and burning villages. They were then subjected to a surprise attack, lead by Sir Richard Worsley, Captain of the Island, and were driven back to their ships with the loss of their commanding officer and many men. A number of forts were built to improve the defence of the Island and the south coast. This was greatly supplemented by England's growing naval power, sufficient to put an end to the French raids.

More up-to-date was when the 1st national postal strike took place in 1971.

The Vectis postal service came into operation in 1971 when a delivery area covering the whole of the Isle of Wight was started.

The stamps were issued imperforate on January 22nd and then in rouletted sheets of 48 on January 23rd.

The design was by R.J.Caldwell and were printed by offset litho by Robert Vale Ltd (Ryde)

Due to the length of the postal strike (and to the success of the Vectis Postal Service) a second printing of stamps became necessary.

The new issue, in green instead of blue, was first issued on the 16th February 1971.

By this time upwards of 1,500 were being handled daily by the service, which was organised and set up by a group of Ryde business men, led by R.W.Cawdell, C.C., who acted as head postmaster for the service.

Both issues were produced by offset litho in rouletted sheets of 48, in one value only: 5p (1/- or one shilling)

A brief History of the Isle of Wight, plane crash in 1957 & 1962 and the postal strike of 1971

Probably the most famous photo of† the Isle of Wight

The Needles.

barrycant0@gmail.com