⌛ Anglo Saxon Qualities In Beowulf

Friday, July 09, 2021 5:35:32 AM

Anglo Saxon Qualities In Beowulf



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Join millions of other players and enjoy the most popular and fun games online at King. Britain for Gildas was the whole island. Ethnicity and language were not his issue; he was concerned with the leaders' faith and actions. The historical details are, as Snyder had it: "by-products from his recounting of royal-sins". He used apocalyptic language: for example the Saxons were "villains", "enemies", led by a Devil-father. Yet, Gildas had lived through, in his own words, an age of "external peace", and it is this peace that brought with it the tyrannis —"unjust rule". Gildas' remarks reflected his continuing concern regarding the vulnerability of his countrymen and their disregard and in-fighting: for example, "it was always true of this people as it is now that it was weak in beating off the weapons of the enemy, but strong in putting up with civil war and the burden of sin.

Gildas, in discussing the holy shrines, mentioned that the spiritual life of Britain had suffered, because of the partition divortium , of the country, which was preventing the citizens cives from worshipping at the shrines of the martyrs. Control had been ceded to the Saxons, even control of access to such shrines. The church was now 'tributary', her sons had 'embraced dung' and the nobility had lost their authority to govern. Gildas described the corruption of the elite: "Britain has kings but they are tyrants; she has judges but they are wicked". Oath breaking and the absence of just judgements for ordinary people were mentioned a number of times.

British leadership, everywhere, was immoral and the cause of the "ruin of Britain". Gildas and other sources were used by Bede in his Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum , written around Jutland , the peninsula containing part of Denmark, was the homeland of the Jutes. Bede seems to identify three phases of settlement: an exploration phase, when mercenaries came to protect the resident population; a migration phase, which was substantial, as implied by the statement that Anglus was deserted; and an establishment phase, in which Anglo-Saxons started to control areas, implied in Bede's statement about the origins of the tribes. The concept of Bretwalda originates in Bede's comment on who held the Imperium of Britain.

Whether such an institution existed is uncertain, but Simon Keynes argues that the idea is not an invented concept. Whether the majority were early settlers, descendant from settlers, or especially after the exploration stage, were Roman-British leaders who adopted Anglo-Saxon culture, is unclear, but the balance of opinion is that most were migrants. Notable gaps include: no-one from the East or West Midlands is represented in the list of Bretwaldas, and some uncertainty about the dates of these leaders. Bede's view of Britons is partly responsible for the picture of them as the downtrodden subjects of Anglo-Saxon oppression. This has been used by some linguists and archaeologists to produce invasion and settlement theories involving genocide, forced migration and enslavement.

Windy McKinney notes that "Bede focused on this point and extended Gildas' vision by portraying the pagan Anglo-Saxons not as God's scourge against the reprobate Britons, but rather as the agents of Britain's redemption. Therefore, the ghastly scenario that Gildas feared is calmly explained away by Bede; any rough treatment was necessary, and ordained by God, because the Britons had lost God's favour, and incurred his wrath. Therefore, it is a moot point whether all of those whom Bede encompassed under the term Angli were racially Germanic".

The Tribal Hideage is a list of 35 tribes that was compiled in Anglo-Saxon England some time between the seventh and ninth centuries. The inclusion of the 'Elmet-dwellers' suggests to Simon Keynes that the Tribal Hideage was compiled in the early s, during the reign of King Wulfhere, since Elmet seems to have reverted thereafter to Northumbrian control. It includes a number of independent kingdoms and other smaller territories and assigns a number of hides to each one. A hide was an amount of land sufficient to support a household. The list of tribes is headed by Mercia and consists almost exclusively of peoples who lived south of the Humber estuary and territories that surrounded the Mercian kingdom, some of which have never been satisfactorily identified by scholars.

The document is problematic, but extremely important for historians, as it provides a glimpse into the relationship between people, land, and the tribes and groups into which they had organised themselves. The individual units in the list developed from the settlement areas of tribal groups, some of which are as little as hides. The names are difficult to locate: places such as East wixna and Sweord ora. What it reveals is that micro-identity of tribe and family is important from the start.

The list is evidence for more complex settlement than the single political entity of the other historical sources. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is a historical record of events in Anglo-Saxon England, which was kept from the late 9th to the midth century. The chronicle is a collection of annals that were still being updated in some cases more than years after the events they describe. They contain various entries that seem to add to the breadth of the historical evidence and provide good evidence for a migration, the Anglo-Saxon elites, and various significant historical events.

The earliest events described in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle were transcribed centuries after they had occurred. Barbara Yorke , Patrick Sims-Williams, and David Dumville , among others, have highlighted how a number of features of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for the fifth and early sixth centuries clearly contradict the idea that they contain a reliable year-by-year record. As Dumville points out about the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle : "medieval historiography has assumptions different from our own, particularly in terms of distinctions between fiction and non-fiction".

Explaining linguistic change, and particularly the rise of Old English , is crucial in any account of the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain. The modern consensus is that the spread of English can be explained by a minority of Germanic-speaking immigrants becoming politically and socially dominant, in a context where Latin had lost its usefulness and prestige due to the collapse of the Roman economy and administration. However, by the eighth century, when extensive evidence for the post-Roman language situation is next available, it is clear that the dominant language in what is now eastern and southern England was Old English , whose West Germanic predecessors were spoken in what is now the Netherlands and northern Germany.

This development is strikingly different from, for example, post-Roman Gaul, Iberia, or North Africa, where Germanic-speaking invaders gradually switched to local languages. In recent decades, a few specialists have continued to support this interpretation, [49] [50] [51] and Peter Schrijver has said that 'to a large extent, it is linguistics that is responsible for thinking in terms of drastic scenarios' about demographic change in late Roman Britain. But the consensus among experts today, influenced by research in contact linguistics , is that political dominance by a fairly small number of Old English-speakers could have driven large numbers of Britons to adopt Old English while leaving little detectable trace of this language-shift.

This account, which demands only small numbers of politically dominant Germanic-speaking migrants to Britain, has become 'the standard explanation' for the gradual death of Celtic and spoken Latin in post-Roman Britain. Likewise, scholars have posited various mechanisms other than massive demographic change by which pre-migration Celtic place-names could have been lost. Scholars have stressed that Welsh and Cornish place-names from the Roman period seem no more likely to survive than English ones: 'clearly name loss was a Romano-British phenomenon, not just one associated with Anglo-Saxon incomers'. Extensive research is ongoing on whether British Celtic did exert subtle substrate influence on the phonology, morphology, and syntax of Old English [71] [72] [73] [74] [75] as well as on whether British Latin-speakers influenced the Brittonic languages, perhaps as they fled westwards from Anglo-Saxon domination into highland areas of Britain.

Thus a recent synthesis concludes that 'the evidence for Celtic influence on Old English is somewhat sparse, which only means that it remains elusive, not that it did not exist'. Debate continues within a framework assuming that many Brittonic-speakers shifted to English, for example over whether at least some Germanic-speaking peasant-class immigrants must have been involved to bring about the language-shift; what legal or social structures such as enslavement or apartheid -like customs might have promoted the high status of English; and precisely how slowly Brittonic and British Latin disappeared in different regions.

An idiosyncratic view that has won extensive popular attention is Stephen Oppenheimer's suggestion that the lack of Celtic influence on English is because the ancestor of English was already widely spoken in Britain by the Belgae before the end of the Roman period. While many studies admit that a substantial survival of native British people from lower social strata is probable, with these people becoming anglicised over time due to the action of "elite dominance" mechanisms, there is also evidence for the survival of British elites and their anglicisation.

An Anglo-Saxon elite could be formed in two ways: from an incoming chieftain and his war band from northern Germania taking over an area of Britain, or through a native British chieftain and his war band adopting Anglo-Saxon culture and language. The incidence of British Celtic personal names in the royal genealogies of a number of "Anglo-Saxon" dynasties is very suggestive of the latter process. Bede, in his major work, charts the careers of four upper-class brothers in the English Church; he refers to them as being Northumbrian , and therefore "English". A good case can be made for southern Britain especially Wessex, Kent, Essex and parts of Southern East Anglia , at least, having been taken over by dynasties having some Germanic ancestry or connections, but also having origins in, or intermarrying with, native British elites.

Guarding against considering one aspect of archaeology in isolation, this concept ensures that different topics are considered together, that previously were considered separately, including gender, age, ethnicity, religion and status. The task of interpretation has been hampered by the lack of works of archaeological synthesis for the Anglo-Saxon period in general, and the early period in particular. This is changing, with new works of synthesis and chronology, in particular the work of Catherine Hills and Sam Lucy on the evidence of Spong Hill, which has opened up the possible synthesis with continental material culture and has moved the chronology for the settlement earlier than AD , with a significant number of items now in phases before this historically set date.

Archaeological evidence for the emergence of both a native British identity and the appearance of a Germanic culture in Britain in the 5th and 6th centuries must consider first the period at the end of Roman rule. The collapse of Roman material culture some time in the early 5th century left a gap in the archaeological record that was quite rapidly filled by the intrusive Anglo-Saxon material culture, while the native culture became archaeologically close to invisible—although recent hoards and metal-detector finds show that coin use and imports did not stop abruptly at AD The archaeology of the Roman military systems within Britain is well known but is not well understood: for example, whether the Saxon Shore was defensive or to facilitate the passage of goods.

Andrew Pearson suggests that the "Saxon Shore Forts" and other coastal installations played a more significant economic and logistical role than is often appreciated, and that the tradition of Saxon and other continental piracy, based on the name of these forts, is probably a myth. The archaeology of late Roman and sub-Roman Britain has been mainly focused on the elite rather than the peasant and slave: their villas, houses, mosaics, furniture, fittings and silver plate. There was a large gap between richest and poorest; the trappings of the latter have been the focus of less archaeological study. However the archaeology of the peasant from the 4th and 5th centuries is dominated by "ladder" field systems or enclosures, associated with extended families, and in the South and East of England, the extensive use of timber-built buildings and farmsteads shows a lower level of engagement with Roman building methods than is shown by the houses of the numerically much smaller elite.

Confirmation of the use of Anglo-Saxons as foederati or federate troops has been seen as coming from burials of Anglo-Saxons wearing military equipment of a type issued to late Roman forces, which have been found both in late Roman contexts, such as the Roman cemeteries of Winchester and Colchester, and in purely 'Anglo-Saxon' rural cemeteries like Mucking Essex , [] though this was at a settlement used by the Romano-British. The distribution of the earliest Anglo-Saxon sites and place names in close proximity to Roman settlements and roads has been interpreted as showing that initial Anglo-Saxon settlements were being controlled by the Romano-British.

Catherine Hills suggests it is not necessary to see all the early settlers as federate troops, and that this interpretation has been used rather too readily by some archaeologists. The broader archaeological picture suggests that no one model will explain all the Anglo-Saxon settlements in Britain and that there was considerable regional variation. Norfolk has more large Anglo-Saxon cemeteries than the neighbouring East Anglian county of Suffolk; eastern Yorkshire the nucleus of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Deira far more than the rest of Northumbria. Some were indeed warriors who were buried equipped with their weapons, but we should not assume that all of these were invited guests who were to guard Romano-British communities.

Possibly some, like the later Viking settlers , may have begun as piratical raiders who later seized land and made permanent settlements. Other settlers seem to have been much humbler people who had few if any weapons and suffered from malnutrition. These were characterised by Sonia Chadwick Hawkes as Germanic 'boat people', refugees from crowded settlements on the North Sea which deteriorating climatic conditions would have made untenable. Catherine Hills points out that it is too easy to consider Anglo-Saxon archaeology solely as a study of ethnology and to fail to consider that identity is "less related to an overall Anglo-Saxon ethnicity and more to membership of family or tribe, Christian or pagan, elite or peasant".

Beyond these, in the early Anglo-Saxon period, identity was local: although people would have known their neighbours, it may have been important to indicate tribal loyalty with details of clothing and especially fasteners. It is this identity that archaeological evidence seeks to understand and determine, considering how it might support separate identity groups, or identities that were inter-connected. Part of a well-furnished pagan-period mixed, inhumation-cremation, cemetery at Alwalton near Peterborough was excavated in Twenty-eight urned and two unurned cremations dating from between the 5th and 6th centuries, and 34 inhumations, dating from between the late 5th and early 7th centuries, were uncovered.

Both cremations and inhumations were provided with pyre or grave goods, and some of the burials were richly furnished. The excavation found evidence for a mixture of practices and symbolic clothing; these reflected local differences that appeared to be associated with tribal or family loyalty. This use of clothing in particular was very symbolic, and distinct differences within groups in the cemetery could be found. Some recent scholarship has argued, however, that current approaches to the sociology of ethnicity render it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to demonstrate ethnic identity via purely archaeological means, and has thereby rejected the basis for using furnished inhumation or such clothing practices as the use of peplos dress, or particular artistic styles found on artefacts such as those found at Alwalton, for evidence of pagan beliefs, or cultural memories of tribal or ethnic affiliation.

The evidence for monument reuse in the early Anglo-Saxon period reveals a number of significant aspects of the practice. Ancient monuments were one of the most important factors determining the placing of the dead in the early Anglo-Saxon landscape. Anglo-Saxon secondary activity on prehistoric and Roman sites was traditionally explained in practical terms. These explanations, in the view of Howard Williams, failed to account for the numbers and types of monuments and graves from villas to barrows reused. Anglo-Saxon barrow burials started in the late 6th century and continued into the early 8th century. Prehistoric barrows, in particular, have been seen as physical expressions of land claims and links to the ancestors, and John Shephard has extended this interpretation to Anglo-Saxon tumuli.

In the 7th and 8th centuries, monument reuse became so widespread that it strongly suggests the deliberate location of burials of the elite next to visible monuments of the pre-Saxon past, but with 'ordinary' burial grounds of this phase also frequently being located next to prehistoric barrows. The Anglo-Saxons did not settle in an abandoned landscape on which they imposed new types of settlement and farming, as was once believed. By the late 4th century the English rural landscape was largely cleared and generally occupied by dispersed farms and hamlets, each surrounded by its own fields but often sharing other resources in common called "infield-outfield cultivation".

Such stability was reversed within a few decades of the 5th century, as early "Anglo-Saxon" farmers, affected both by the collapse of Roman Britain and a climatic deterioration which reached its peak probably around , concentrated on subsistence, converting to pasture large areas of previously ploughed land. However, there is little evidence of abandoned arable land. Evidence across southern and central England increasingly shows the persistence of prehistoric and Roman field layouts into and, in some cases throughout, the Anglo-Saxon period, whether or not such fields were continuously ploughed.

Landscapes at Yarnton, Oxfordshire, and Mucking, Essex, remained unchanged throughout the 5th century, while at Barton Court, Oxfordshire, the 'grid of ditched paddocks or closes' of a Roman villa estate formed a general framework for the Anglo-Saxon settlement there. Susan Oosthuizen has taken this further and establishes evidence that aspects of the "collective organisation of arable cultivation appear to find an echo in fields of pre-historic and Roman Britain": [] in particular, the open field systems, shared between a number of cultivators but cropped individually; the link between arable holdings and rights to common pasture land; in structures of governance and the duty to pay some of the surplus to the local overlord, whether in rent or duty.

Together these reveal that kinship ties and social relations were continuous across the 5th and 6th centuries, with no evidence of the uniformity or destruction, imposed by lords, the savage action of invaders or system collapse. This has implications on how later developments are considered, such as the developments in the 7th and 8th centuries. Landscape studies draw upon a variety of topographical, archaeological and written sources. There are major problems in trying to relate Anglo-Saxon charter boundaries to those of Roman estates for which there are no written records, and by the end of the Anglo-Saxon period there had been major changes to the organisation of the landscape which can obscure earlier arrangements.

Nevertheless, studies carried out throughout the country, in "British" as well as "Anglo-Saxon" areas, have found examples of continuity of territorial boundaries where, for instance, Roman villa estate boundaries seem to have been identical with those of medieval estates, as delineated in early charters, though settlement sites within the defined territory might shift. These developments suggest that the basic infrastructure of the early Anglo-Saxon local administration or the settlement of early kings or earls was inherited from late Roman or Sub-Roman Britain. There are a number of difficulties in recognising early Anglo-Saxon settlements as migrant settlers.

This in part is because most early rural Anglo-Saxon sites have yielded few finds other than pottery and bone. The use of aerial photography does not yield easily identifiable settlements, partly due to the dispersed nature of many of these settlements. The distribution of known settlements also remains elusive with few settlements found in the West Midlands or North-West. Even in Kent, an area of rich early Anglo-Saxon archaeology, the number of excavated settlements is fewer than expected. However, in contrast the counties of Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire are relatively rich in early settlements.

These have revealed a tendency for early Anglo-Saxon settlements to be on the light soils associated with river terraces. Many of the inland settlements are on rivers that had been major navigation routes during the Roman era. The same is true of the settlements along the rivers Ouse , Trent , Witham , Nene and along the marshy lower Thames. Less well known due to a dearth of physical evidence but attested by surviving place names, there were Jutish settlements on the Isle of Wight and the nearby southern coast of Hampshire.

A number of Anglo-Saxon settlements are located near or at Roman-era towns, but the question of simultaneous town occupation by the Romano-Britons and a nearby Anglo-Saxon settlement i. At Roman Caistor-by-Norwich , for example, recent analysis suggests that the cemetery post-dates the town's virtual abandonment. The earliest cemeteries that can be classified as Anglo-Saxon are found in widely separate regions and are dated to the early 5th century. By the late 5th century there were additional Anglo-Saxon cemeteries, some of them adjacent to earlier ones, but with a large expansion in other areas, and now including the southern coast of Sussex. Up to the year , roughly 10, early 'Anglo-Saxon' cremations and inhumations had been found, exhibiting a large degree of diversity in styles and types of mortuary ritual.

Cemetery evidence is still dominated by the material culture: finds of clothes, jewellery, weapons, pots and personal items; but physical and molecular evidence from skeletons, bones and teeth are increasingly important. Considering the early cemeteries of Kent, most relevant finds come from furnished graves with distinctive links to the Continent. However, there are some unique items, these include pots and urns and especially brooches, [] an important element of female dress that functioned as a fastener, rather like a modern safety pin.

The style of brooches called Quoits , is unique to southern England in the fifth century AD, with the greatest concentration of such items occurring in Kent. Seiichi Suzuki defines the style through an analysis of its design organisation, and, by comparing it with near-contemporary styles in Britain and on the continent, identifying those features which make it unique. He suggests that the quoit brooch style was made and remade as part of the process of construction of new group identities during the political uncertainties of the time, and sets the development of the style in the context of the socio-cultural dynamics of an emergent post-Roman society.

The brooch shows that culture was not just transposed from the continent, but from an early phase a new "Anglo-Saxon" culture was being developed. Women's fashions native costumes not thought to have been trade goods , have been used to distinguish and identify settlers, [] supplemented by other finds that can be related to specific regions of the Continent. A large number of Frankish artefacts have been found in Kent, and these are largely interpreted to be a reflection of trade and commerce rather than early migration. Yorke Wessex in the Early Middle Ages , , for example, only allows that some Frankish settlement is possible.

The presence of artefacts that are identifiably North Germanic along the coastal areas between the Humber Estuary and East Anglia indicates that Scandinavians migrated to Britain. In particular, regarding a significant Swedish influence in association with the Sutton Hoo ship and a Swedish origin for the East Anglian Wuffinga dynasty, both possibilities are now considered uncertain. The process of mixing and assimilation of immigrant and native populations is virtually impossible to elucidate with material culture, but the skeletal evidence may shed some light on it. Given the lower average stature of Britons, the most likely explanation would be a gradual Saxonisation or Anglicisation of the material culture of native enclaves, an increasing assimilation of native populations into Anglo-Saxon communities, and increasing intermarriage between immigrants and natives within Anglo-Saxon populations.

It was concluded that the physical type represented in urban Roman burials, was not annihilated nor did it die-out, but it continued to be well represented in subsequent burials of Anglo-Saxon date. Continuity of the native female population at this site has been inferred from the continuity of textile techniques unusual in the transition from the Romano-British to the Anglo-Saxon periods , and by the continuity of epigenetic traits from the Roman to the Anglo-Saxon burials. At the same time, the skeletal evidence demonstrates the appearance in the post-Roman period of a new physical type of males who are more slender and taller than the men in the adjacent Romano-British cemeteries. It is not easy to confirm such cases of 'warband' settlement in the absence of detailed skeletal, and other complementary, information, but assuming that such cases are indicated by very high proportions of weapon burials, this type of settlement was much less frequent than the kin group model.

This was, therefore, a community which made decisions about the disposal of the dead based upon various factors, but at those we can barely guess. Was the inclusion of some but not all individuals subject to political control, or cultural screening? Was this a mark of ethnicity or did it represent a particular kinship, real or constructed, or the adherents of a particular cult? Was it status specific, with the rural proletariat — who would have been the vast majority of the population — perhaps excluded? So are many of these cemeteries associated with specific, high-status households and weighted particularly towards adult members? We do not know, but the commitment of particular parts of the community to an imported and in some senses 'Germanic', cremation ritual does seem to have been considerable, and is something which requires explanation.

Researchers have employed various forms of molecular evidence to investigate the relative importance of immigration, the acculturation of natives and inter-marriage in the creation of Anglo-Saxon England. The inheritance of gender-specific elements of the human genome allows the study of separate female-only and male-only lineages, using mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosome DNA, respectively. Rather, males inherit the Y-chromosome directly from their fathers, and both sexes inherit mtDNA directly from their mothers. Consequently, they preserve a genetic record from person to descendant that is altered only through mutation. An examination of Y-chromosome variation, sampled in an east—west transect across England and Wales, was compared with similar samples taken in Friesland East and West Fresia.

It was selected for the study due to it being regarded as a source of Anglo-Saxon migrants, and because of the similarities between Old English and Frisian. Samples from Norway were also selected, as this is a source of the later Viking migrations. Across the latter much Viking settlement is attested. The study could not distinguish between North German and Danish populations, thus the relative proportions of genetic input derived from the Anglo-Saxon settlements and later Danish Viking colonisation could not be ascertained.

A paper by Thomas et al. Stephen Oppenheimer reviewed the Weale and Capelli studies and suggested that correlations of gene frequency mean nothing without a knowledge of the genetic prehistory of the regions in question. His criticism of these studies is that they generated models based on the historical evidence of Gildas and Procopius, and then selected methodologies to test against these populations. Weale's transect spotlights that Belgium is further west in the genetic map than North Walsham, Asbourne and Friesland.

In Oppenheimer's view, this is evidence that the Belgae and other continental people — and hence continental genetic markers indistinguishable from those ascribed to Anglo-Saxons — arrived earlier and were already strong in the 5th century in particular regions or areas. More recent work has challenged the theories of Oppenheimer and Sykes. A major study in by Leslie et al. Based on two separate analyses, the study found clear evidence in modern England of the Anglo-Saxon migration and identified the regions not carrying genetic material from these migrations. Additionally, in the 'non-Saxon' parts of the UK there was found to exist genetically differentiated subgroups rather than a general 'Celtic' population.

In , through the investigation of burials in Cambridgeshire using ancient DNA techniques, researchers found evidence of intermarriage in the earliest phase of Anglo-Saxon settlement. The highest status grave of the burials investigated, as evidenced by the associated goods, was that of a female of local, British, origins; two other women were of Anglo-Saxon origin, and another showed signs of mixed ancestry. People of native, immigrant and mixed ancestry were buried in the same cemetery, with grave goods from the same material culture, without any discernible distinction.

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