Anglo Saxon Towns: History & Place Names

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This is a history of how towns and villages developed, interesting use of place names to identify the origin etc. Anglo Saxon life is also covered. Slavery is discussed, with examples of how people became slaves, how slavery ended, and how someone could be freed. The system of wergelds is also discussed. There is also a court system with emphasis on social standing.
  • #1


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Here is a history of how towns and villages developed, interesting use of place names to identify the origin etc.
I wonder how this view would overlap with frequent skirmishes, battles through out england.
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  • #2
Anglo Saxon life

Slavery - the way in... How did one become a slave? You could have the bad luck to be born a slave, of course. Beyond that, war was the most frequent source of slaves. Many conquered Celtic Britons would have become slaves. People could also become slaves if they were unable to pay a fine. In some cases a family would sell a child into slavery in time of famine to ensure the child's survival.

...and the way out. Slavery was not necessarily a lifetime sentence, however. A slave could be ransomed by his or her relatives or granted freedom in an owner's will. If a person became a slave because they were unable to pay a debt, they might be freed when the value of their labour reached the value of the original debt.
  • #3

Wergelds. The ties of kinship meant that the relatives of a murdered person were obliged to exact vengeance for his or her death. This led to bloody and extensive feuds. As a way out of this deadly and futile custom the system of wergelds was instituted. The wergeld set a monetary value on each person's life according to their wealth and social status. This value could also be used to set the fine payable if a person was injured or offended against. Robbing a thane called for a higher penalty than robbing a ceorl. On the other hand, a thane who thieved could pay a higher fine than a ceorl who did likewise.

This emphasis on social standing led to an interesting court system. The courts did not attempt to discover the facts in a case; instead, in any dispute it was up to each party to get as many people as possible to swear to the rightness of their case. The word of a thane counted for that of six ceorls. It was assumed that any person of good character would be able to find enough people to swear to his innocence that his case would prosper.
  • #4
I've watching the History Channel's program Barbarians II, Saxons, which covers the entry of 3 ships of Saxons lead by Hengest and [/url=]Horsa[/url] [Broken] at the invitiation of Vortigern to get rid of the Picts. Vortigern then marries Hengest's daughter Rowena. Vortigern gives land (Kent) to the Saxons as a bride payment. Apparently Rowena is Vortigern's second wife ( )

Then the story accelerates to Aethelfrith (of Northumbria), Edwin (whose parents Aethelfrith killed), and Raedwald.

Raedwald rescued Edwn by defeating Aethelfrith

Apparently it is believed that the resting place of Raedwald is Sutton Hoo. [Broken]

The names of places probably reflect the pagan beliefs (seemingly a mix of theism and animism) of the pagan Saxons. Interestingly, some Saxons converted to Christianity, but that particularly Christianity held Jesus as a powerful warrior who survived his execution on the cross, which seems diametrically opposed to the concept of a rabbi teaching harmony, love and peace. :rolleyes:

There were many Saxon kingdoms in England, and the came and went as the kings came and went, usually by conquest of rival kings.
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  • #5
I will have to find out if i can get dvds for the history channel, thanks Astro.
  • #6
wolram said:
I will have to find out if i can get dvds for the history channel, thanks Astro. [Broken]
Dark Ages, Barbarians and Barbarians II. The program about the Saxons was in the Barbarians II set. [Broken] - I can't find the store.
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1. What were the main features of Anglo Saxon towns?

The main features of Anglo Saxon towns included a central market place, a church or religious building, a fortified wall or ditch for protection, and a network of streets and houses.

2. How did the layout of Anglo Saxon towns differ from modern cities?

The layout of Anglo Saxon towns was often irregular and unplanned, with narrow streets and buildings clustered closely together. This is in contrast to the grid-like layout of modern cities.

3. What influenced the development of Anglo Saxon towns?

The development of Anglo Saxon towns was influenced by a combination of factors, including the availability of resources, trade and commerce, and the strategic location of the town for defense purposes.

4. What are some common place names found in Anglo Saxon towns?

Common place names found in Anglo Saxon towns include words such as "ham" meaning village, "tun" meaning enclosure or farm, and "worth" meaning enclosure or settlement, as well as names derived from natural features such as "ford" or "bridge".

5. How did the arrival of the Normans impact Anglo Saxon towns?

The arrival of the Normans in the 11th century had a significant impact on Anglo Saxon towns. Many towns were rebuilt with stone buildings and more planned layouts, and new castles were constructed for defense. The Normans also introduced new place names, such as "castle" and "borough", which are still common in modern English towns.

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