47 – Was there an Anglo Saxon Invasion of Britain?

Ok, so last week I left you on a bit of a cliffhanger. We talked about the invasion stories and I alluded to how some people don’t believe that there was an invasion, but I didn’t really go into a serious analysis of the evidence as it relates to it.

But worry not, this entire episode is going to consist of nerdy analysis as well as a story about a miracle that doesn’t seem particularly miraculous. So lets get into it!

To start with, lets have a lightning recap since it’s been a week and you might have forgotten the tale. The Brits were under attack by the Picts following the withdrawal of Rome. So Vortigern hired some Saxons to help defend the island. Hengist and Horsa led the german mercenaries. There was a dispute over payment and they ransacked the south of Britain. Then they started raiding and settling in Britannia and several founding members of Anglo Saxon houses arrived on the island. Eventually the Brits started fighting back under the command of Ambrosius Aurelianus and there was a big battle at Badon Hill where Aurelianus was victorious and the invasions stopped... and the civil wars began.

Ok, with that out of the way, I suppose the most important question regarding this discussion is whether or not there is any evidence that supports the legends of Germanic invasions following the withdrawal of Rome?

Well to start with, the Anglo Saxons of the fifth century were illiterate, so if we want to get history from the horse’s mouth, as it were, all we have is Archaeology. But thankfully, we have Anglo Saxon digs in England. We have the Staffordshire Hoard and Sutton Hoo not to mention many other less sizable archaeological digs. Based on that you might be tempted to just say “yeah, obviously in light of those digs there had to have been an invasion.” And that would make for a pretty short episode. But it isn’t as clear as that. Sutton Hoo and the Staffordshire Hoard are from after the fifth century, so they don’t really tell us if those invasion stories were true. They just tell us that over the course of hundreds of years, there was a cultural shift.

Click here to be able to read the full rough transcript.

  2 comments for “47 – Was there an Anglo Saxon Invasion of Britain?

  1. CuJoYYC
    July 4, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    I know you’re all about debunking memes and myths. In that spirit, I direct you to http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1421383/plotsummary regarding the forbidden fruit. I saw it on Netflix but I’m sure it’s also available elsewhere.

  2. Helen Springer
    October 30, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    I’m slowly working my way through this wonderful series…and in #48 you made a remark that I’ve made a zillion (well, not that many) times to my non-history-archeology-crazy friends: “…fifty years back then was just as long as it is today…”

    Critical thought to keep in mind when trying to comprehend deep time, evolution, history…

    Thanks again for doing what you do!

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