Sutton Hoo part 1
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Part 1

he section on the Saxons is a brief history of their influx into Britain following the departure of the Romans after the sacking of Rome in AD 410. It explains their opportunism at a time when the country became unprotected and very vulnerable. I have possibly given the impression that these people from Saxony in northern Germany were cruel Barbarians who had scant regard for human life and little respect for the people they were to eventually dominate. I may also have given the impression of a race of people totally devoid of culture. Various aspects of the Saxon makeup in those early times may be related in terms of inherent violence. Branding the early Saxon invaders with little cultural heritage would be unfair to them. The misunderstanding arises when you compare what was before AD 410 and what followed. Historians have quoted first Saxon invasions as a slip into the mire. That is what happened in many respects but is not entirely the truth. Britain had a reputation as a trading nation and respected for its laws and organization. The indigenous Celts interbred with Roman stock to the point where the term Romano British could almost sum up the population. Only in times of threat were fresh pure Roman legions dispatched to shore up Britain's defences. 
 

Helpless

ollowing the sacking of Rome - the Saxons invaded. Unlike the invasion undertaken by William the Conqueror six hundred years later - This was a slow influx of an inexorable and powerfully violent invader. What we actually know about these times are scant. We rely on ancient documents that can be read a number of ways and the efficacy of the chroniclers sometimes instigates debate. Folklore played a large part in Saxon and British culture and the documents that survive should be analysed closely to extract the underlying meaning and possible truth. Roman organization and laws were like an oasis in the desert of the known world map. It was not surprising that the British suffered both physically and from a certain degree of culture shock after the Saxon arrival.
 

Longer Than The Romans

hat we should not forget is that the Saxon age lasted for six hundred and fifty years. In fact, right up until the Battle of Hastings in 1066. This was longer than the Roman occupation. Many historians consider the Roman occupation as subjugation of the population. Rome tended to have the last word and it was unwise to voice an opinion or rise against her. The Pagan's of Anglesey being a case in point. The lifestyle of the average Briton was proportionate to his status. It is still a matter of modern conjecture as to what age was preferable. Slavery was endemic for those unlucky enough to be born into the lower classes during Roman times. The arrival of the Saxons continued in the form of Saxon, Angle and Jute. These people were basically from the same area but tribally different. They initially kept themselves apart and settled in different areas of the country. The Saxons settled in the south that eventually become known as Wessex. The Angles in East Anglia and the Jutes in Kent. This is covered more fully in the section on the Saxons.
 

Divide And Conquer

or a race of people to survive for so long required some form of organization. Unfortunately, the people who suffered most were the Celts and Romanised Britons. The Celts and Romano British, forced by hunger and violent suppressions, became displaced to the west of the country, mainly Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and Wales. These people were displaced so far in that direction that the Welsh and English Celts and fleeing Romano British became isolated from each other by the Bristol Channel and developed their own separate cultures. It is not my intention to discuss the effects of this exodus in this section. I really want to dispel the idea that there was little good in Saxon culture. If the Saxons were cruel, it can only be countenanced with the thought that these were indeed cruel times. In actual fact, William the Conqueror after Hastings was almost hell bent on genocide in the North of England. Cruelty was not the preserve of Saxons alone. Despite the Saxon treatment of the indigenous population in the early years, I can recount no documentation that comes close to the heinous deeds perpetrated by William the Conqueror. There are many reasons for this - which I hope to expound on in a future section.
 

Life And Times

f the written word is one way to understand those times. The other comes from the ground. This section is about archaeological evidence that helps us to understand better the times of the early Saxons arrival to these shores. Sadly, the amount of artefacts are few compared to what survives from the Roman occupation. This is the story of one major find that has helped us understand more about those people and hence, respect their culture a little more fully than the history books sometimes pay them. Every culture has its good and bad points. This is about life, death, religion, culture, art and respect for the dead. All those things that we give the Saxon races little credit for.
 

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copyright Glen Ray Crack - Battle - East Sussex - United Kingdom
Submitted 10th January 1998
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