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British history

Anglo-Saxon and Viking England

An Anglo-Saxon village beside an old Roman townAn Anglo-Saxon village beside an old Roman town The long period in English history between the departure of the Romans in 410 and the arrival of the Normans in 1066 saw frequent invasions and conquests. Angles, Saxons and other peoples from Germany arrived first. They gradually pushed the native Britons northwards and westwards towards Scotland and Wales, gaining control of most of England by 613. The Anglo-Saxons established settled kingdoms and England eventually became united as a single kingdom under their rule. After 793, Viking raiders arrived from Scandinavia. They terrorized England, raiding monasteries and plundering the countryside. They eventually ruled the whole country as part of a vast Scandinavian empire.

A finely crafted Anglo-Saxon helmetA finely crafted Anglo-Saxon helmet

The Anglo-Saxon invaders

After the Roman army left Britain in AD 410, the native Britons came under increasing attack from Angles, Saxons, Jutes and other tribes from Germany and elsewhere in northern Europe. Over the next 200 years, these invading Anglo-Saxons, as they were later called, pushed the Britons back into Scotland and Wales. In 613, the Anglo-Saxon King Aethelfrith of Northumbria won a major victory over the Britons at Chester, finally ending their power in the country.

The Anglo-Saxons were skilled craftworkers, producing many fine goods in gold, silver and copper. When the Saxon King Raedwald of East Anglia died in 617, he was buried in his ship at Sutton Hoo along with much of his fabulous treasure.

After the Roman withdrawal from Britain, the city of Londinium (London) was abandoned. It was an uninhabited ruin for up to 200 years, from the late 5th century onwards, when the site was resettled by the Anglo-Saxons.

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