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Anglo-Saxon England

Ship's figure-head, late 4th century - 5th century, oak, 149 cm, (Germanic?/Roman? found in Belgium) © The Trustees of the British Museum
Ship's figure-head, late 4th - 5th century, oak, 149 cm, (Germanic?/Roman? found Belgium) © The Trustees of the British Museum
In the fifth century C.E., people from tribes called Angles, Saxons and Jutes left their homelands in northern Europe to look for a new home. They knew that the Romans had recently left the green land of Britain unguarded, so they sailed across the channel in small wooden boats. This warlike dragon figurehead is from a ship of that time.
The Britons did not give in without a fight, but after many years the invaders managed to overcome them, driving them to the west of the country. The Anglo-Saxons were to rule for over 500 years.
Some objects were left behind by the Anglo-Saxons which have given us clues about how they lived. The British Museum is home to the largest and finest Anglo-Saxon collection in the world.
Æthelwulf Ring, c. 828-58, niello, gold, 2.8 cm diameter, England, © Trustees of the British Museum
Left:Æthelwulf Ring, c. 828-58 C.E., niello, gold, 2.8 cm diameter, and right: Æthelswith Ring, c. 853-74 C.E., niello, gold, 2.6 cm in diameter, both England © Trustees of the British Museum
Map of Anglo-Saxon England
Map of Anglo-Saxon England
Anglo-Saxon England was divided into the five main kingdoms of Wessex, East Anglia, Mercia, Northumbria and Kent, each with its own king. Kings often died early and violent deaths. As well as fighting against each other for power, they had to keep their own nobles happy, or they might rise up against them. One way that they did this was to give them expensive presents.
The ring on the left was perhaps given to a noble by King Æthelwulf of Wessex. The other ring has AD on it which stands for "Agnus Dei" meaning "Lamb of God" in Latin. On the back the name Æthelswith has been cut. She was Æthelwulf’s daughter and the ring might have been a gift she gave to someone to show her favour.
Æthelwulf Ring, c. 828-58, niello, gold, 2.8 cm diameter, England, © Trustees of the British Museum
Æthelwulf Ring, c. 828-58 C.E., niello, gold, 2.8 cm diameter, England © Trustees of the British Museum
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© Trustees of the British Museum

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  • blobby green style avatar for user irbycomp
    Do you have that collection of ancient gold that was mentioned on tv a few months ago? It was found in a farmer's field. I don't remember much else about it.
    (5 votes)
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    • leaf green style avatar for user weber
      If you mean the Staffordshire Hoard, which was first discovered in 2009 in a farmer's field, parts of it were on display at the British Museum for a while shortly after its discovery but is now owned by museums in Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent. There's a very good series of episodes on this hoard in the History of Britain podcast series (audio though).
      (17 votes)
  • male robot hal style avatar for user Zach61952
    Can the fibulae be in relation to the Anglo-Saxon?
    (4 votes)
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  • starky sapling style avatar for user Nadiyah Doughty
    Did the Britons became what is today Welsh after they were pushed west? Or are the Welsh a different people entirely?
    (1 vote)
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    • blobby green style avatar for user cheery.reaper15
      The Welsh were a Celtic people who lived in Britain long before the Romans invaded,never mind the Anglo-Saxons. Today, few people could claim pure Celtic heritage, what with numerous invasions and more peaceful migration. It's best you don't point that out to patriotic Welsh people, though.
      (3 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user Gustav Elzinga
    I know that the Germanic tribes that invaded the British Isles, mainly the Angles, Saxons and Jutes were from Germany and the Jutland Peninsula, but where were the Celtic tribes originally from, mainly the ones inhabiting the British Isles? Some of my ancestors were Irish and Celtic.
    (1 vote)
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  • starky seed style avatar for user 18kqwright
    why is this "grammar" but were taking history quizzes seems like this class is a waste of time
    (0 votes)
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