Teachers Notes: Anglo-Saxons



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Teachers Notes: Anglo-Saxons



  • The ‘Anglo-Saxons’ began as different groups of people who lived along the northern coast of mainland Europe. In the years 400-700AD Britain was invaded and settled by the Angles (from Germany), Saxons (from Germany), Jutes (from Denmark) and many other peoples from northern Germany and southern Scandinavia










  • The Anglo-Saxons wrote a book called the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (commissioned by Alfred the Great). A lot of what we know about the Anglo-Saxons comes from this book. It was written c. 892







  • Much of their settlement may have been peaceful, but the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle also tells of some ferocious battles. In 491 the Anglo-Saxons attacked the Britons living in the Roman fort at Pevensey, Sussex. The Chronicle states there was “not even one Briton left”




  • They lived in rectangular wooden thatched houses. Archaeologists have discovered that some of these houses were built over large shallow pits. They think that this was done so that floor planks were laid over that gap, not directly onto the bare earth – making the wood less likely (slower) to rot




  • They used both cremation and burial for their dead. Graves and the objects in them give archaeologists vital clues about how they lived and what they wore. Skeletons found show that many died before they were 25 and very few lived to older than 40




  • They worshiped many different gods such Woden (Chief god), Frig (Goddess of growth), Thunor (God of sky and thunder) and Tiw (God of war)










  • They lived in small tribal groups/Kingdoms




  • Every person in Anglo-Saxon society had a value in money – known as Wergild. A noble had a high Wergild value and a peasant a low value, slaves even lower! If a person was killed or injured, they or their family could be given the right amount of money (compensation) - unless they were killed or injured whilst stealing!!




  • Archaeological evidence tells us that they ate beef, mutton, pork, wheat, barley, oats and peas as their main foods and they made and used wooden bowls and pottery bowls/objects. They also had their own coins/currency




  • In 731 an Anglo-Saxon monk known as the ‘Venerable Bede’, wrote a book called ‘Ecclesiastical History of the English Peoples’





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