Who were the Anglo-Saxons?

From the inimitable Ellen Hawley, who publishes many wonderful things that you’ve unlikely encountered elsewhere. An excerpt:

“I can’t leave you without talking about the map of Ikea stores in Oosthuizen’s book. (It’s reproduced in the review. The link’s above.) She argues that future archeologists could mark a map with all the Ikea stores that are close to rivers leading to the North Sea, and from that theorize that Sweden colonized Britain in the late twentieth century.

They could back up the theory by pointing to the amount of Ikea furniture in people’s homes and decide that the 100,000 Swedes who lived in London in 2018 had moved there to work for Ikea.”

Notes from the U.K.

Until recently, if you asked who the Anglo-Saxons were the answer would’ve been that they were people from two northern European tribes who invaded England during the fifth and sixth centuries and then put down roots and stayed. They pushed the Britons (mostly Celts who’d been Romanized) to the corners of the island and formed a shifting set of small kingdoms in the island’s middle. 

The kingdomlets eventually became one full-size kingdom, which was in turn overthrown by the Norman invasion in 1066. 

Sic transit gloria mundi, which is Latin from Do whatever you like, in the end it all goes wrong anyway. It’s a run-on sentence, but you can blame the ancient Romans.

The Jutes and the complications

To complicate the picture (I can never resist a complication), you can also tell the traditional story so that there were three tribes, the Angles and the Saxons plus…

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5 thoughts on “Who were the Anglo-Saxons?”

  1. That was certainly an educational post. I would’ve never guessed that the counties of Essex and Middlesex were references to the Saxons for example. Even then the original people of England weren’t Anglo-Saxons. I learned about the Cheddar Man recently and how he was clearly melanated over 10,000 years ago. That DNA research from the oldest skeleton really put the feeling of “Englishness” and “Britishness” into question.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I am very glad that you enjoyed this post, Ospreyshire, but all thanks go to Ellen Hawley for conducting the research. The part about the Ikea Theory really got me to thinking about how false notions can so easily go viral.
      Fascinating stuff indeed.

      Liked by 2 people

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