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THE ANGLO-SAXONS AND THE VIKINGS

When the Roman Empire began to collapse, the Roman legions in Britain were called back to
Rome.

Three populations from Germany, the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes, invaded Britain.

They settled in the north-eastern part of Britain and created seven kingdoms: Northumbria, East
Anglia, Wessex, Essex, Sussex, Mercia and Kent.

Anglo-Saxons were pagan and largely illiterate. In 597 Pope Gregorius sent a monk named
Augustine to convert them to Christianity.

They used a series of cryptic characters, called runes, as their alphabet.


THE TREASURE OF SUTTON HOO

In 1939 archaeologists made an incredible discovery in Woodbridge, Suffolk. They started digging
a small hill and discovered an Anglo-Saxon ship burial, which is now worldwide known as the
“Treasure of Sutton Hoo” (from the place where it was found).

In the reconstruction of the burial ship, the warrior was buried surrounded by his weapons and
belongings, including wonderfully worked ornaments. The helmet has become a symbol of the
Sutton Hoo burial; archaeologists found only a mass of small pieces, and the helmet was
reconstructed after years of work in the British Museum Laboratory.

The most important weapon in Anglo-Saxon times was the sword, which was often passed down
from father to son. The shield was next in importance. It was originally made of wood, so it had to
be reconstructed.

Anglo-Saxon Heritage: Days of The Week

Sunnandæg  sun's day


Mōnandæg moon's day
TiwesdægTiw's day
(Tiw=Anglo-Saxon god of war)
WodnesdægWoden's day
(Wotan (Odin), the most important Anglo-Saxon god)
ThunresdægThunor's day
(Thor, Wotan's son, god of thunder)
FrigesdægFrige's day
(Freya, female goddess)
Sæternesdæg Saturnus's day
(Saturnus, the Roman god of agriculture)
THE VIKINGS
At the end of the 8th century Britain was attacked by peoples from Denmark and Scandinavia: the
Vikings.

The Vikings (the word means “pirate”) were excellent shipbuilders and sailors. Their ships were so
well built that they could sail long distances.

Vikings were similar to the Anglo-Saxons in terms of language, clothes and way of life. They also
worshipped the same gods.

The Viking invasion began with occasional attacks on the coast. Later the kingdoms of
Northumbria and East-Anglia were conquered. The invasion of Wessex, however, met the strong
opposition of King Alfred’s army: the Wessex king in fact had tried to unite the divided Anglo-
Saxons against the common enemy.
Alfred (849-899) is the only English king called “the Great”. He was not only a military leader, but
also a great statesman, a lawgiver and a scholar, who encouraged culture and gave the English
their first literature.

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the first great book in English prose, provides the history of Britain
written in the language of the Anglo-Saxons, and is one of the most important documents that has
come down to us from the Middle ages.