The Humber estuary and the navigable rivers that empty into it were natural points of ingress for invaders from the sea, and it is very likely that the Bubwith area was settled by invaders prior to the Vikings, Danes and other Northmen, especially as the banks of the Derwent at Bubwith were fully navigable, provided natural staithes, or landing points, and was well stocked with fish. Although there is no firm evidence of any Roman settlement in the parish, Roman coins have been found in Spaldington.

However, the clear evidence we have of the earliest settlements, prior to the Norman Conquest, are of Danish/Norse and Saxon origin, as evidenced by their names.

'The Cambridge Dictionary of English Place-Names', ed Victor Watts et al, Cambridge: CUP, 2004, gives the following meanings and derivations:

(OE Old English, ON Old Norse, ODan Old Danish, CG Continental Germanic).

Bubwith: 'Bubba's wood'; OE personal name Bubba + ON vithr probably replacing OE wic 'dairy-farm'

Breighton: 'bright farmstead or enclosure'; OE briht, beorht + OE tun

Foggathorpe: 'Fulcard's outlying settlement'; CG personal name Fulcard + ODan thorp

Gunby: 'Gunna, Gunni or Gunnhildr's village or farm'; ON feminine personal name Gunnhildr varying with shortened form Gunna, or Gunni + ODan by

Harlthorpe : 'Herel's dependent settlement'; personal name Herel + ODan thorp; Herel may be a shortened form of an ON personal name such as Herlaugr, Herleifr etc.

Spaldington: 'farm or village on the Spalding'; river name *Spalding, an -ing derivative of OE *spald 'a trench, a ditch, a fenland river', + OE tun. The form Spaldinggetun may point to a variant specific Spaldinga, the genitive pl. of OE Spaldingas the 'folk living by the Spald'. If this explanation is correct, the reference is to the river Foulness

Willitoft: 'willow curtilage'; OE wilig + ON topt

The Vikings invaded England and took York in 866, and it was intermittently the capital of various Danish and Norse kings. In 876 Halfdan and his Danes shared out the land and proceeded to cultivate the land to support themselves. It is probable that the settlements in the Bubwith area derived their names from this period, or shortly afterwards, and it is also from this time that the administrative divisions of the ridings and the wapentakes were formed.

The West Saxon kings annexed the kingdom of York in 954, but they left the local earls in charge, so the Scandinavian traditions and identity went largely unaffected. They were themselves displaced by Danes again when in 1013, Sven Forkbeard, and more importantly his son, Cnut (Canute) re-established Danish overlordship of England, until the death of their descendent, Hardicanute in 1042. From 1042-1066 Saxon rule was restored, when Edward the Confessor succeeded his half-brother, Hardicanute. Edward introduced Norman influence (paving the way for later Norman conquest) as he was the son of Ethelred II and Emma of Normandy. Edward's introduction of Normans into high positions of government and power antagonised the fully blooded Saxon earls, particularly Godwin, the powerful Earl of Wessex, who rebelled and drove out many of Edward's Norman circle. In return for Norman support Edward (apparently) promised the throne to his great-nephew, William of Normandy, in 1051. Following Godwin's death in 1053, Edward relied heavily on Godwin's son, Harold, who was also his royal brother-in-law, and (apparently) named Harold as his successor on his deathbed. The scene was now set for conflict between Harold and William who both had claims to the throne, and as we all know, it was William that carried the day at the momentous Battle of Hastings in 1066.