1.2 Adventus Saxonum

AS MigrationsThe traditional story of the arrival of the Anglo Saxons is one of death and destruction, and the catastrophic and complete replacement of a British population by a new Germanic race within a generation. But there are other theories too – much more peaceful, much more gradual.

1.2 Adventus Saxonum



7 thoughts on “1.2 Adventus Saxonum

  1. I still think it’s remarkable that scholars don’t relate the Danelaw to the original settlings of the Angles. I suspect the Danelaw boundaries weren’t by chance, but the result of continued contact and ties over hundreds of years.

  2. Really enjoying your podcasts & so glad that you are re-visiting the Anglo-Saxons. I’m looking forward to hearing more.
    Have you read anything by Stephen Pollington? I have his book “The English Warrior From Earliest Times Till 1066”, lots of great research in there, a very thorough survey of the subject. It has some useful insights into the mindset of AS culture, such as the relationships/obligations between kings and their people.

  3. This episode was recorded a while back but I think that overall it has aged extremely well in light of recent research such as archaeogenetic studies.

  4. Also recent climate studies… Multiple volcanic eruptions, including the Ilopango caldera eruption of El Salvador around 525 which is getting up to supervolcano territory, blocked out enough sunlight and/or had enough knock-on effects like excessive precipitation that the following decade is reckoned to have been one of the coldest in the last 2000 years.

    That caused famine, and then people were weak enough for the Plague of Justinian. According to Marc Morris’ Anglo-Saxon book, while there’s no direct evidence it reached England, there are records it reached Ireland, so there’s good reason to think it reached England. Plague hits communities connected by trade and agriculture; more sparse or remote populations may escape it since people die or recover before they can transmit it beyond their household.

    Which means the Anglo-Saxons may have arrived at an England that was in much the same condition as when colonists came to New England and found many Native American villages deserted or decimated by smallpox. In fact, the Pilgrims were welcomed by one group of shellshocked Indians partly because they needed help with the harvest… that was Thanksgiving. Squanto = the Indian equivalalent of Vortigern?

    The colonization of the Americas may also provide an analog for the language replacement. The Spanish brought smallpox to the continent in the 1500s, and it spread out across the continent decimating native populations. So the Indians encountered by Europeans in North America were living in a postapocalyptic world with collapsed trade networks, hereditary leaders and keepers of oral traditions losts, communities decimated and forced to merge, regroup, and find new ways to do more with less — and just about the time they started to recover from the plague these hairy barbarians arrived with guns and steel and stole their land and pushed them farther west. Sound familiar?

    Obviously, this is speculation, but if the mid 6th century famine and plague hit the people of Britain the same way, then the Anglo-Saxons arrived at a moment when they were uniquely vulnerable and in disarray— and some might even have been welcomed.

    The only problem with this theory is that you’d think there’d be some memory of the plague. I mean, it’s not like a pandemic could pass through, and then within five years everybody’s ready to move on and forget it ever happened.., oh wait…,

    1. Hi Ellen this is perfect, thank you! I may hurridly incorporate into my re-launched episode i a couple of weeks time. I have Marc’s book on order; are there any other references you can point me at?

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