Portal:Anglo-Saxon England

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Anglo-Saxon England

England green top 2.svg
Edward the Elder - MS Royal 14 B VI.jpg

Anglo-Saxon England lasted from the end of the Roman occupation of Britain and the establishment of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in the 5th century until the Norman conquest of England of October the 14th 1066. The Anglo-Saxons were Germanic tribes who settled in the southern half of Britain from continental Europe, and their descendants as well as indigenous people who adopted the Anglo-Saxon culture and language, in the 5th and 6th centuries. Their language, which is now called Old English, and the culture of the era, has long attracted popular and scholarly attention.

Until the 9th century, Anglo-Saxon England was dominated by the kingdoms of Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia, Essex, Kent and Wessex. The Anglo-Saxons were initially pagans, but they converted to Christianity during the 7th century.

Facing the threat of Viking attacks that began in the 9th century, the kings of Wessex became dominant amongst the Anglo-Saxon rulers. During the 10th century, the individual kingdoms unified under the rule of Wessex to become the kingdom of England, which stood opposed to the Viking kingdoms established in the north and east of England. The Kingdom of England fell in the Viking invasion from Denmark in 1013 and again in 1016. England was ruled by the House of Denmark until 1042, when the Anglo-Saxon House of Wessex was restored. The last Anglo-Saxon king, Harold Godwinson, was killed in 1066 at the Battle of Hastings.

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Staffordshire hoard annotated.jpg

The Staffordshire Hoard is the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver metalwork yet found. Discovered in a field near the village of Hammerwich, near Lichfield, in Staffordshire, England on 5 July 2009, it consists of over 3,500 items that are nearly all martial in character, and contains no objects specific to female uses. Artefacts have tentatively been dated to the 7th or 8th centuries, placing the origin of the items in the time of the Kingdom of Mercia.

Experts have produced a range of theories as to where the hoard came from and how it came to be deposited, and whether the objects were made for Christians or pagans. The average quality of the workmanship is extremely high, and especially remarkable in view of the large number of individual objects, such as swords or helmets, from which the elements in the hoard came.

The hoard was valued at £3.285 million, and has now been purchased by the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery. (more...)

Did you know?

Did you know...
  • ...that in Anglo-Saxon England, pregnant women were warned against eating food that was too salty or too sweet, or other fatty foods, and were also cautioned not to drink strong alcohol or travel on horseback?
  • ...that the ship-burial at Snape is the only one in England that can be compared to the example at Sutton Hoo?
  • ...that the name Taplow of the burial mound at Taplow, comes from Old English Tæppas hláw ('Tæppa's mound'), so that the name of the man buried in the mound would seem to have been Tæppa?
  • ...that the Ordinance Concerning the Dunsaete, which gave procedures for dealing with disputes between the English and the Welsh of Archenfield, stated that the English should only cross into the Welsh side, and vice versa, in the presence of an appointed man who had to make sure that the foreigner was safely escorted back to the crossing point?

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Hoard of Anglo-Saxon rings
Credit: David Rowan, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

Pieces from the Staffordshire hoard, an Anglo-Saxon treasure trove discovered in 2009.

Selected biography

Translation of Saint Æthelthryth.jpg

Seaxburh (Old English: Sexburh); also Saint Sexburga of Ely, (died about 699) was the queen of King Eorcenberht of Kent, as well as an abbess and a saint of the Christian Church.

Seaxburh's sisters were Æthelburg of Faremoutiers, Saethryth, Æthelthryth and possibly Withburga. Her marriage to Eorcenberht produced two sons, both of whom ruled, and two daughters. After her husband's death in 664, Seaxburh remained in Kent to bring up her children. She acted as regent until her young son Ecgberht came of age.

Seaxburh founded the abbeys at Milton Regis and Minster-in-Sheppey, where her daughter Ermenilda was also a nun. She moved to the double monastery at Ely where her sister Æthelthryth was abbess and succeeded her when Æthelthryth died in 679. Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People celebrates the saintly virtues of Æthelthryth, but speaks less highly of Seaxburh, referring only to her marriage, succession as abbess and translation of her sister's relics. The date of Seaxburh's death at Ely is not known. (more...)

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