FC: Anglo-Saxon History
1: Anglo-Saxon History by Megan Burnham
2: The Angles and Saxons were the largest of the three attacking tribes and are best known as the Anglo-Saxons. The Anglo-Saxons left their homelands in northern Germany, Denmark, and The Netherlands and rowed across the North Sea in wooden boats to Britain. The first Anglo-Saxons invaded the shores of south and east England in the 4th century AD, but they were beaten back by the Romans. At the beginning of the 5th century, the Romans left Britain.
3: It was during the second half of the fifth century that more Anglo-Saxons continued to arrive and take land. This is the reason that the time period of the Anglo-Saxons is thought to be about AD 450.
4: A common weapon used by the Anglo-Saxon people was the spear made with a seven foot long ash shaft and an iron head. It was used to jab and also to throw. Shields were round, made of wood covered with leather, and had an iron boss in the center. | Only the most noble warriors used swords, which were about thirty inches long, made of iron with steel edges. The handle was often carved and had jewels. It could also be inscribed with good luck symbols and names of gods.
5: When the Saxons first came to Britain, they were Pagans. They worshiped gods of nature and held springs, wells, rocks, and trees in reverence. | They viewed religion as ensuring success in material things instead of a source for spiritual revelation. An example of this is that they would pray to a particular goddess for a successful harvest, or for victory in a battle.
6: The majority of Anglo-Saxons lived off of farming. They used teams of oxen to plow the fields. They raised horse and oxen for heavy farm labor and transportation. Most of the crops grown were wheat, oats, rye, and barley. Honey was the only sweetener used and it was for the alcoholic beverage, mead. Pigs were a major food animal, along with cattle, goats, and sheep.
7: The land was divided into shires. This was mainly according to the territory of the first tribes. To look after the king's interests, were the ealdormen and shire-reeves also known as sheriffs. Within the shires were the towns. Initially, only some of the towns were walled, and those often were reminiscent of the Bronze Age.
8: Not many Anglo-Saxon buildings exist today. This is because of the warfare and invasions from the time period of 800-950. The invaders destroyed the settlements they came across. | The majority of Saxon buildings were constructed of wood with wattle and daub walls. The only buildings that were built with stone were monasteries and churches. | Two regions where the earliest Saxon work can be found is the Southeast around the county of Kent and in Northumbria.
9: The Anglo-Saxons enjoyed going to mead halls for their food and entertainment. They also played dice and board games, such as chess. At feasts, the most common form of entertainment was the harp.
10: Mens clothing consisted of a robe or tunic gathered at the waist. The outfit was completed by hose and soft shoes. The rich and poor people used brooches to fix clothing and amulets of stones were often wore to bring good luck.
11: Women wore a robe or dress that went all the way down to their feet. Materials that were used for the clothing were linen and woolens. The expensive outfits were distinguished by colorful dyes and exotic borders.
12: There were a few different ways of becoming a slave in the Anglo-Saxon time. You could have been born into slavery with bad luck. War provided the most abundant source of slaves. If you were unable to pay a fine, you would be sentenced to slavery. Sometimes, a family would sell a child into slavery in a time of famine to ensure the child's survival.
13: There were ways of getting out of slavery as well. It was never considered a lifetime sentence. A slave could have been ransomed by his or her relatives or granted freedom in an owner's will. If a person had become a slave because of the inability to pay a fine, they may be freed when the value of their labor reached the value of their original debt.
14: During the Anglo-Saxon time, society was divided into social classes which could have varied in different places. At the top of the social class was the king. The king was also the war leader and he was expected to provide opportunities for glory for his followers. Below the king were two levels of freemen, the upper class thanes and the lower class ceorls. Terms of land owned is what separated the thanes and ceorls. A man could only become a thane if he owned five hides of land. A hide is the amount of land necessary to provide a living for one family. Aside from the ownership of land, a ceorl could be a wealthier man than a thane. Below the thanes and ceorls were the slaves. Slavery was one of the biggest commercial enterprises of the Dark Ages and much depended on this involuntary labor force.
15: During the Anglo-Saxon time period, the rich lords lived on estates. The estates had a main rectangular hall that was surrounded by outlying buildings for various living, working, and storage purposes. The hall is where all of the feasts took place. The feasts were for the lord's followers and the lord was expected to be an excellent host.