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Portal:Anglo-Saxon England

Anglo-Saxon England

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Edward the Elder - MS Royal 14 B VI.jpg

Anglo-Saxon England was early medieval England, existing from the 5th to the 11th century from the end of Roman Britain until the Norman conquest in 1066. It consisted of various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms until 927 when it was united as the Kingdom of England by King Æthelstan (r. 927–939). It became part of the North Sea Empire of Cnut the Great, a personal union between England, Denmark and Norway in the 11th century.

The Anglo-Saxons were the members of Germanic-speaking groups who migrated to the southern half of the island of Great Britain from nearby northwestern Europe and their cultural descendants. Anglo-Saxon history thus begins during the period of Sub-Roman Britain following the end of Roman control, and traces the establishment of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in the 5th and 6th centuries (conventionally identified as seven main kingdoms: Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia, Essex, Kent, Sussex, and Wessex), their Christianisation during the 7th century, the threat of Viking invasions and Danish settlers, the gradual unification of England under Wessex hegemony during the 9th and 10th centuries, and ending with the Norman conquest of England by William the Conqueror in 1066.

Anglo-Saxon identity survived beyond the Norman conquest, came to be known as Englishry under Norman rule and through social and cultural integration with Celts, Anglo-Normans and other cultures from around the world became the modern English people.

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Liudhardmedaletreplica.jpg

The Liudhard medalet is a gold Anglo-Saxon coin or small medal found some time before 1844 near St Martin's Church in Canterbury, England. It was part of the Canterbury-St Martin's hoard of six items. The coin, along with other items found with it, now resides in the World Museum Liverpool. Although some scholarly debate exists on whether or not all the items in the hoard were from the same grave, most historians who have studied the object feel that they were buried together as a necklace in a 6th century woman's grave. The coin is set in a mount so that it could be worn as jewellery, and has an inscription on the obverse or front surrounding a robed figure. The inscription refers to Liudhard, a bishop who accompanied Bertha to England when she married Æthelberht the king of Kent. The reverse side of the coin has a double-barred cross, or patriarchal cross, with more lettering.

The coin was probably struck at Canterbury in the late 6th century, most likely between 578 and 589. Although it could have been used as a coin, it was more likely made as a medallion to proclaim the wearer's conversion to Christianity. The coin is the oldest surviving example of Anglo-Saxon coinage. The design of the figured side has some affinities with Merovingian and Visigothic coins, but the side with the cross has few known predecessors in coinage, and is the first northern European depiction of a patriarchal cross in any medium. (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.

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Aldhelm.malmesbury.arp.jpg

Aldhelm (Old English: Ealdhelm) (c. 639 – 25 May 709), Abbot of Malmesbury Abbey, Bishop of Sherborne, Latin poet and scholar of Anglo-Saxon literature, was born before the middle of the 7th century. He is said to have been the son of Kenten, who was of the royal house of Wessex.[1] He was certainly not, as Aldhelm's early biographer Faritius asserts, the brother of King Ine. After his death he was venerated as a saint, his feast day being the day of his death, 25th May. (more...)

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  1. ^ Walsh A New Dictionary of Saints p. 21-22