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Tidlige angelsaksiske sværd

Tidlige angelsaksiske sværd

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Sue Brunning undersøger nogle lurvede angelsaksiske sværd.

#CuratorsCorner #AngloSaxon #swords


Angelsaksisk liv

Liv og religion
Det er svært at generalisere om en så lang æra som den mørke middelalder, men vi gør det alligevel. Angelsakserne var hedninger, da de kom til Storbritannien. De tilbad naturens guder og holdt fjeder, brønde, klipper og træer i ærbødighed.

Religion var ikke en kilde til åndelig åbenbaring, det var et middel til at sikre succes i materielle ting. For eksempel kan du bede til en bestemt gudinde om en vellykket høst eller om sejr i kamp. Et par af de angelsaksiske guder var Tiw, Wodin (Odin), Thor og Friya, hvis navne huskes i vores ugedage tirsdag, onsdag, torsdag og fredag.

Religiøs overholdelse bestod af påkaldelser og charme for at sikre gudernes hjælp til at sikre et ønsket resultat i den materielle verden, selv om tilstedeværelsen af ​​gravvarer indikerer en tro på et liv efter døden. Der er en mulighed for, at kvindelige slaver kan være blevet ofret ved en mandlig ejers død og inkluderet i graven for at ledsage ham i den næste verden.

Et Herrens liv
Vi ved lidt om, hvordan de fleste mennesker levede, for så lidt er tilbage. De rigere herrer boede på godser med en rektangulær hovedhal omgivet af yderbygninger til forskellige leve-, arbejds- og opbevaringsformål. Inde i gangen kan en herre markere sin prestige ved dyre vægge eller endda malerier. Hallen var feststed for herrens tilhængere, og en herre forventedes at være en overdådig vært.

Samfundet var opdelt i flere sociale klasser, som kan variere fra sted til sted. Øverst var kongen. Han var hovedsagelig en krigsleder. Det forventedes, at han gav muligheder for plyndring og ære for sine tilhængere. Kongen, der ikke sørgede for jord, slaver eller plyndring, vågnede måske død en god morgen.

Under kongen var der to niveauer af frimænd, overklassen og den lavere klasse ceorls (churls). Opdelingen mellem de to var strengt hvad angår ejendomsret. En mand kunne kun være en, hvis han ejede mindst fem huder jord (et hude blev defineret som den mængde jord, der var nødvendig for at leve af en familie). Bortset fra ejendomsretten til jord kunne en ceorl faktisk være en rigere mand end den.

Under aserne og ceorlerne var slaverne. Slaveri var en af ​​de største kommercielle virksomheder i mørketidens liv og var meget afhængig af denne ufrivillige arbejdsstyrke.

Slaveri - vejen ind.
Hvordan blev man en slave? Du kan have uheldet med at blive født som slave, selvfølgelig. Udover det var krig den hyppigste kilde til slaver. Mange erobrede keltiske briter ville være blevet slaver. Folk kunne også blive slaver, hvis de ikke var i stand til at betale en bøde. I nogle tilfælde ville en familie sælge et barn til slaveri i hungersnød for at sikre barnets overlevelse.

. og vejen ud
Slaveri var imidlertid ikke nødvendigvis en livstidsdom. En slave kunne blive løskøbt af hans eller hendes slægtninge eller givet frihed i en ejers testamente. Hvis en person blev slave, fordi de ikke var i stand til at betale en gæld, kunne de blive frigivet, når værdien af ​​deres arbejde nåede værdien af ​​den oprindelige gæld.

Tøj
Den kappe eller tunika, der var samlet i taljen, var den almindelige beklædningsgenstand til en mand, kompletteret med slange og bløde sko. For en kvinde strækkede kappen eller kjolen sig til fødderne. De sædvanlige materialer var linned og uld, de dyrere tøj var præget af farverige farvestoffer og eksotiske kanter. Brocher blev brugt til at fastgøre tøj af rige og fattige, og amuletter af sten blev brugt til held.

Våben
I krig var det almindelige våben spydet lavet med en syv fod lang aske og et jernhoved. Det blev både kastet og brugt til at jappe. Skærme var runde, lavet af træ dækket med læder og havde en jernboss i midten.

Kun adelen brugte sværd, der var cirka 30 centimeter lange, lavet af jern med stålkanter. Hiltet var ofte udførligt udskåret og smykket og kunne indskrives med lykke -symboler og gudernes navne.

De danske vikinger var stærkere bevæbnet end angelsakserne og stolede på kædepost og hjelme og korte stikkende sværd, der var nyttige i tæt hold, såvel som den frygtindgydende dobbelthovedede kampøkse.

Fritid
Når de ikke kæmpede (man spekulerer på, hvornår det var) var de mørke tidsalters yndlings tidsfordriv terninger og brætspil som skak. Udførlige gåder var populære, ligesom hestevæddeløb og jagt. Ved fester var den mest almindelige underholdning harpen, som også blev brugt i kirkemusik. Ud over harpen er der fundet scener med jongleringskugler og knive, der illustrerer bøger fra perioden.

Rejsende
Rejser var ikke ualmindeligt, og de vigtigste handelsruter, ofte langs de gamle romerske veje, blev ofte brugt. Fra hovedruter kan rejser imidlertid være en risikabel forretning. Rejsende blev rådet til at råbe, blæse horn og larme meget. Ellers blev alle fremmede antaget at være fredløse og kunne blive dræbt uden for hånden.

Administration
Landet blev opdelt i shires, hovedsageligt i henhold til de første stammers område. Shiren var opdelt i hundredvis, eller i Danelaw, wapentakes. Disse var de grundlæggende forvaltningsenheder og retssystemet.

For at varetage kongens interesser (se at alle skatterne blev opkrævet) og administrere retfærdighed, var ealdormen og shire-reeves (sheriffer). Inden for shires var byerne eller burhs, der varierede i størrelse fra 5000 mennesker i York til 500 i St. Albans. I første omgang var kun nogle af byerne murmurede, og dem ofte med jordarbejde, der mindede om bronzealderen.

Landbrug
På landet levede langt de fleste mennesker af landbrug. Først ejede de fleste gårde direkte. Ceorlerne arbejdede samarbejdende og delte udgifterne til et hold okser til at pløje de store fælles marker i smalle strimler, der blev skiftevis delt ud, så hver bonde havde lige stor andel af godt og dårligt land.

Senere blev meget af dette land konsolideret til de store godser af velhavende adelige. Ceorls arbejder muligvis jorden til gengæld for service eller produktion, eller de kan arbejde herrens jord et givet antal dage om året. Efterhånden som tiden gik, blev flere og flere af disse store godser etableret som integrerede kommercielle virksomheder, komplet med vandmølle til at male kornet.

Mad
De afgrøder, der hyppigst blev dyrket, var hvede, havre, rug og byg (både som korn og som base for øl). Ærter, bønner og linser var også almindelige. Honning var det eneste sødemiddel, der blev brugt, og det blev brugt til at lave den alkoholiske drik mjød. Grise var et stort foderdyr, ligesom kvæg, geder og får. Heste og okser blev rejst til tungt landbrugsarbejde og transport, selvom stigbøjlen endnu ikke havde vist sig fra fjernøsten.


Gammelt sværd

To amatørmetaldetektorer fra området, Sue og Mike Washington, opdagede den gamle grav i 2018.

De havde foretaget tre ture til stedet, hvor deres udstyr oprindeligt viste, hvad der syntes at være begravet jern & mdash noget, de troede sandsynligvis var et temmelig nyligt landbrugsredskab af ringe interesse.

Ved deres sidste besøg opdagede de imidlertid to bronzeskåle og mdash, og da de indså fundets betydning, registrerede de deres opdagelse hos Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) drevet af British Museum og National Museum of Wales, der registrerer amatørarkæologisk finder.

En PAS-arkæolog undersøgte derefter og genoprettede bronzeskålene og et par jernspydspidser, der antydede, at stedet sandsynligvis ville være en angelsaksisk grav. Disse objekter vil snart blive vist på Buckinghamshire Museum i Aylesbury.

Efter denne undersøgelse ledede Thomas en fuld udgravning i august, der afslørede skelet rester af Marlow Warlord, sammen med sværdet og andre gravvarer. Sværdet er lavet af jern og holdes i en dekoreret skede af bronze, læder og træ. Noget af læderet har overlevet mange århundreder i jorden, fordi det var beskyttet af korrosion af jernbladet og mdash organisk materiale som læder normalt hurtigt rådner væk i jorden, så dette er et sjældent fund, der nu kan testes for eventuelle resterende genetiske materiale, sagde han.

Skeden havde også en bronzefitting kaldet en "chape" for enden, som viste et skåremærke, hvor den muligvis var blevet beskadiget af en kriger til fods, der ramte bæreren af ​​skeden siddende på hesteryg.

Dette antydede, at sværdet var et arbejdende våben, snarere end bare til show, sagde han. "Det er et ganske interessant bevis på, at denne person så aktiv kamp."


Den angelsaksiske Fyrd c.400-878 e.Kr.

Det gamle engelske ord fyrd bruges af mange moderne forfattere til at beskrive den angelsaksiske hær, og dette er faktisk en af ​​dens betydninger, selvom ordet her er lige gyldig. I sin ældste form ordet fyrd havde betydet & kvoterejse eller ekspedition & quot. Imidlertid ændrede ordets nøjagtige betydning, ligesom artenes karakter, det bruges til at beskrive, meget mellem de gange, de første germanske bosættere forlod deres hjemlande og tidspunktet for slaget ved Hastings. Den angelsaksiske periode var voldsom. Krigsførelse dominerede dens historie og formede arten af ​​dens regeringsførelse. Faktisk var krig den naturlige tilstand i de germanske hjemlande og patchwork af stammekongeriger, der sammensatte præ-vikingens England. Høvdinger engagerede sig i en tilsyneladende endeløs kamp mod fremmede fjender og rivaliserende slægtninge om autoritet, magt og hyldest. Selv efter at kristendommen havde givet dem en ideologi om kongedømme, der ikke var afhængig af succes i kamp, ​​fortsatte disse småkrig, indtil de blev afsluttet af vikingernes invasioner. Fra 793AD til de sidste år med Vilhelm Erobreren og quots -reglen var England under konstant trussel og ofte angreb fra nordmændene.

For at forstå arten af ​​de hære, der kæmpede i disse kampe, så mange historikere i det nittende og første halvdel af det tyvende århundrede på klassiske forfattere, især den romerske forfatter Tacitus fra det første århundrede. Tacitus giver i sin bog Germania mange detaljer om, hvordan de tyske stammer organiserede deres militære styrker, og mange historikere brugte det faktum, at stammerne Tacitus skrev om var de tidlige germanske angriberes forfædre til at forklare den angelsaksiske art fyrd. Men er barbarernes stammeskikke virkelig et godt grundlag for en nations natur fjernet med næsten 1000 år? Nyere forskning har vist, at fyrdens karakter ændrede sig meget i de 969 år mellem Tacitus & quot -skrivningstiden og slaget ved Hastings.

I mange år var der stor debat blandt forskere om, hvorvidt fyrd bestod af adelsmænd, der kæmpede for kongen til gengæld for jord og privilegier (bønder, der var opdrættet og aristokrater kæmpede), eller om fyrden bestod af en generel afgift af alle arbejdsdygtige mænd i en ceorl (bonde) baseret økonomi. I 1962 foreslog C.W. Hollister en genial løsning: der havde ikke været én, men to typer fyrd. Der havde været et & quotselect fyrd & quot, en styrke af professionelle, ædle jordbesiddende krigere og en anden afgift, & quotgreat fyrd & quot - nationen i våben. Denne opfattelse opnåede på grund af sin elegante enkelthed snart status for ortodoksi blandt de fleste historikere, og er den opfattelse, der fremsættes i mange af de mere generelle bøger om perioden, der udkommer i dag. Imidlertid har fortsat forskning vist, at denne opfattelse er forkert. Hollister opfandt udtrykkene & quotgreat fyrd & quot og & quotselect fyrd & quot; fordi der ikke var nogen tilsvarende terminologi i nutidens gammelengelsk eller latin. Aktuel forskning viser, at den angelsaksiske fyrd var en organisation i konstant udvikling, og dens natur ændres, når du går igennem den angelsaksiske periode.

Ud fra det lille, vi ved om de sædvanlige og tyske bosætters skikke og natur i dette land, kan vi være temmelig sikre på, at meget af det Tacitus skrev om tyskerne fra det første århundrede stadig gjaldt deres efterkommere fra det fjerde, femte og tidlige sjette århundrede. De tidlige stammer var af militær karakter, hovedsageligt bestående af frie krigerfamilier og forpagtere, fri og ufri, styret af en stammechef eller konge. Disse stammer blev ofte grupperet sammen i nationer, nogle gange under reglen om en & quothigh-king & quot.

& quot De vælger deres konger til deres ædle fødsel, deres ledere til deres tapperhed. Selv kongernes magt er ikke absolut eller vilkårlig. Hvad angår lederne, er det deres eksempel frem for deres autoritet, der vinder dem særlig beundring - for deres energi, deres særegenhed eller deres tilstedeværelse i kampvognen.
& quot Ingen forretning, offentlig eller privat, transporteres undtagen i våben. Men det er reglen, at ingen må tage våben, før stammen har bevist, at han sandsynligvis vil klare sig godt. Når tiden kommer, udstyrer en af ​​høvdingene eller faderen eller en slægtning den unge kriger med skjold og spyd i det offentlige råd. Dette med tyskerne svarer til vores toga - den første offentlige sondring mellem unge. De ophører med at rangere som medlemmer af husstanden og er nu medlemmer af stammen. Iøjnefaldende forfædre eller store tjenester fra deres fædre kan vinde rang som chef for drenge, der stadig er i teenageårene. De er knyttet til de andre høvdinger, der er mere modne og godkendte, og ingen rødmer for at blive set således i ledsagernes rækker. Denne rækkefølge af ledsagere har endda sine forskellige karakterer, som bestemt af lederen, og der er intens rivalisering blandt ledsagerne om førstepladsen af ​​chefen, blandt cheferne for de mest talrige og entusiastiske ledsagere. Både værdighed og magt består i at blive løbende overværet af et korps af udvalgte unge. Dette giver dig overvejelse i fredstid og sikkerhed i krig. Det er heller ikke kun i en mands egen nation, at han kan vinde berømmelse med sine ledsagers overlegne antal og kvalitet, men også i nabolandene. Chiefs bliver opfordret af ambassader og komplimenteret af gaver, og de afgør ofte praktisk talt krige udelukkende af deres ry.
& quot På slagmarken er det en skændsel for høvdingen at blive overgået i tapperhed af sine ledsagere, for ledsagere ikke at komme op til deres høveds tapperhed. Hvad angår at forlade en kamp i live, efter at din chef er faldet, betyder det livslang skændsel og skam. At forsvare og beskytte ham, at nedlægge sine egne heltemod til sin kredit - det er det, de virkelig mener med & quotallegiance & quot '. Høvdingerne kæmper for sejren, ledsagerne for deres høvding. Mange ædle unge, hvis deres fødselsland stagnerer i en langvarig fred, opsøger bevidst andre stammer, hvor der er krig. Tyskerne har ingen smag for fredsberømmelse er lettere at vinde blandt farerne, og du kan ikke opretholde en stor mængde ledsagere undtagen ved vold og krig. Ledsagerne er fortabte i deres krav om generøsitet hos deres høvdinge. Det er altid & giv mig den krigshest & quot eller & giv mig det blodige og onde spyd & quot. Hvad angår måltider med deres rigelige, hvis hjemlige billetpris, tæller de simpelthen som løn. Sådan åbenhed skal have krig og plyndring for at fodre den. & Quot

Vi ved fra andre dele af Tacitus & quot -skrifter, at stammebønderne støttede høvdinge og hans krigere til gengæld for beskyttelse mod ødelæggelser af fjendtlige stammer. Ved behov var chefen i stand til at tilkalde alle dygtige, frie arbejdere til forsvar for stammernes lande, selvom han normalt kun stolede på sin kriger & quot ledsagere & quot. Disse ledsagere blev fodret og indkvarteret af chefen og ville modtage betaling i krigsudstyr og mad (tyskernes eneste brug af ædle metaller i Tacitus & quots tid var til handel med Romerriget).

Manuskript Cotton.Claudius.B.IV fra British Library. Dette blev tegnet omkring 1000AD, og ​​er en oversættelse af Det Gamle Testamente, der delvist blev oversat af & AEliglfric. En anden illustration fra det samme værk er i kapitlet om angelsaksisk lov. Det viser nogle temmelig mærkelige udstyrstyper såsom 'Phrygian Hats' som hjelme, og kun kongen bærer post, hvilket er urealistisk

Hvordan var disse ledsagere udstyret? Igen kan Tacitus hjælpe os her:

& quot Kun de færreste bruger sværd eller lanser. Spydene, de bærer - frameae er det oprindelige ord - har korte og smalle hoveder, men er så skarpe og lette at håndtere, at det samme våben tjener ved behov for tæt eller fjern kamp. Rytteren spørger ikke mere end sit skjold og spyd, men infanteriet har også spyd til at bade, flere pr. Mand, og de kan kaste dem i stor afstand, for de er enten nøgne eller kun letklædte i deres kapper. Der er ikke noget prangende i deres tur. Kun skjoldene er udvalgt med omhyggeligt udvalgte farver. De færreste har kun kropspanser her og der vil du se en hjelm af metal eller skjul. Deres heste skelnes ikke hverken for skønhed eller for hurtighed, og de er heller ikke trænet i romersk mode til at udføre forskellige sving. De kører dem lige frem eller med et enkelt sving til højre og holder hjullinjen så perfekt, at ingen falder bagefter resten. På generel undersøgelse ses deres styrke at ligge snarere i deres infanteri, og det er derfor, de kombinerer de to arme i kamp. Mændene, de vælger fra hele styrken og stationen i varevognen, er fodflåde og passer beundringsværdigt ind i kavaleriaktion. Antallet af disse udvalgte mænd er præcist fastlagt. Hundrede trækkes fra hvert distrikt, og 'de hundrede' er det navn, de bærer derhjemme. & Quot

Dette ser ud til at være en misforståelse af Tacitus, fordi selvom hundrede var en landdeling, er det usandsynligt i betragtning af størrelsen på hære dengang, at hver ville sende 100 krigere. Fra denne beskrivelse ser det imidlertid ud til, at krigerne primært var infanteri med en lille mængde kavaleristøtte. De ville generelt kun være bevæbnet med spyd (e) og skjold, selvom nogle få af de største/mest velstillede måske havde et sværd, ror eller sjældent rustning. Arkæologi viser dette, og sandsynligvis stammer de fleste sværd, roder og mailshirts i Romerriget og nåede tyskerne enten ved handel eller som krigsbytte. Den relative almindelighed og knaphed på de forskellige typer våben og rustninger bekræftes godt af fund fra offermoser, hvor der ofte blev foretaget votive tilbud om våben og rustning af besejrede fjender. I disse fund er skjolde og spyd (og overraskende ofte buer og pile) langt de mest almindelige, idet sværd, roder og rustninger alle er meget sjældnere. Op til det fjerde århundrede er de fleste af disse sværd, roder og mailshirts af romersk type, selv om det fra det femte århundrede og fremefter bliver tydeligt tyske sværd mere almindelige.

Ved invasionen af ​​Storbritannien i det femte århundrede var tyskerne blevet så stærkt afhængige af deres infanteri, at en britisk forfatter fortæller os, at de ikke kender brugen af ​​kavaleri. & Quot Hærene, der kom til dette land, var normalt langt mindre end deres Romerske forgængere. De fleste beretninger fortæller om hære, der ankom med kun to eller tre skibe, og da denne tids skibe generelt ikke havde mere end 50-60 mand, talte de fleste af disse hære sandsynligvis kun 100-200 mand. På trods af disse hærers lille størrelse var tyskerne i stand til at hugge sig ud af mange små kongeriger, dræbe, køre af eller gøre slaver af den indfødte befolkning, mens de gik, men det skal huskes, at de ikke altid havde tingene på deres egen måde. Dette var Arthur's tid, der gennem sin brug af romersk kavaleritaktik mod det germanske infanteri var i stand til at besejre invasionerne så tungt, at de ikke var i stand til at komme videre i næsten halvtreds år. I slutningen af ​​det sjette århundrede havde germanerne, eller som de da begyndte at kalde sig selv, angelsaksiske angribere overtaget meget af Storbritannien i lavlandet og skåret mange små kongeriger med forskellige styrker og hierarkier meget ud, som de havde haft i Tyskland.

Krig var endemisk for kongedømmene i det sjette, syvende og ottende århundrede Storbritannien. En angelsaksisk hersker i denne periode var frem for alt en krigsherre, a dryhten, som de gammelengelske kilder udtrykker det. Hans primære pligt var at beskytte sit folk mod deres naboers fordærv og lede dem på ekspeditioner ( fyrds) plyndring og erobring. Som vi hører i Beowulf (som levede på dette tidspunkt) om Scyld (bogstaveligt talt 'skjold'), den mytiske grundlægger af den danske kongelinje:

& quotScyld Sceafing fratog ofte sine fjender, mange stammer af mænd, deres mjødbænke. Han skræmte sine fjender, men alligevel var han som dreng blevet fundet, da en skæbne skæbnet gjorde op med det. Han trivedes under himlen, vandt ros og ære, indtil mændene i hver nabostamme på tværs af hvalens vej var forpligtet til at adlyde ham og hylde ham. Han var en god konge! & Quot

Scyld var en god konge, fordi han var herre over et mægtigt krigsband, der tjente på hans ledelse. Så længe han levede, var hans folk i sikkerhed, og han nød hyldest fra de omkringliggende stammer. Dette portræt er ikke blot en konvention af en heroisk genre. Selv de tidlige angelsaksiske munke viser, når de skrev om denne tids angelsaksiske konger, at dette ikke var et heroisk ideal, men den måde en konge styrede på.

Det er bemærkelsesværdigt, at de tidlige kilder bruger sproget i personlig herredømme til at udtrykke de forpligtelser, der skyldes en konge. Da Wiglaf fulgte Beowulf i kamp mod dragen, talte han ikke om sin pligt til & quotking og land, & quot, men om en beboers ansvar for at tjene og beskytte sin herre. Faktisk var en konge blandt de tidlige angelsaksere simpelthen adelsherre. Selv udtrykket cyning [konge] betyder bogstaveligt talt kun & quot af de pårørende & quot og betegner et medlem af den kongelige linje, mens kongens embede blev udtrykt ved titlerne hlaford [brød- eller godsejer] og dryhten [krigsherre]. Det & aelig & thorneling der blev valgt til kongeembedet, var blot det medlem af den kongelige linje, der kunne styre det største krigsband. Denne kendsgerning hjælper med at forklare de mange borgerkrige, der fandt sted i de tidlige angelsaksiske kongeriger, og hvorfor en konge, der fik sin position med magt, så hurtigt kunne accepteres af sine undersåtter.

En scene, der skildrer Salme 27 i Harley Psalter, der viser en hær og deres lejr

En konge fra det syvende eller ottende århundrede kom oftest til hans trone gennem vold eller trussel om vold og beholdt sin krone ved at afværge indenlandske og udenlandske rivaler. Fred var simpelthen kølvandet på en krig og optakten til en anden. I voldelige tider som disse var det nødvendigt, at en konge sikrede sig (med Beowulf -digterens ord) & quot elskede ledsagere til at stå ved ham, folk til at tjene ham, når krig kommer. & quot Men hvad tvang mænd i det syvende århundredes England til at deltage i en kongehær, og hvilken slags mænd var de? Efterhånden som kongedømmene udviklede sig i England ceorl (bonde) var kommet til at modtage en vigtigere position end i de germanske hjemland, men erstattede han adelsmanden ved at udgøre hovedparten af ​​king & quots -hæren (en opfattelse, som mange historikere fra det nittende og begyndelsen af ​​det tyvende århundrede havde). Omhyggelig undersøgelse af nutidige kilder har vist, at selv om ceorl, som en freeman, havde ret til at bære våben, ville han sjældent have sluttet sig til king & quots fyrd. Ordet fyrd på dette tidspunkt havde opnået en udpræget martial konnotation og var kommet til at betyde & quotarmed ekspedition eller force. & quot

Det er klart, at king & quots ledsagere eller, for at bruge det gamle engelske udtryk, Gesi & thornas var stadig hentet fra aristokratiske krigerfamilier, men nu havde gavegivningen set i tidligere tider været under en forandring. Nu blev der ud over krigsudstyr også givet gaver af værdifulde genstande (en herre kaldes ofte en & quotgiver for ringe & quot i litteraturen), eller mest efterspurgte af alt, jord. I angelsaksisk England blev en gave ikke givet frit, og en gave forventedes til gengæld i form af service. Da en kriger tog tjeneste hos en herre, blev han forpligtet til at "elske" alt, hvad hans herre elskede, og til at hade alt, hvad han hadede. For eksempel, selv om det var sædvanligt for en kriger at modtage en ejendom for livet (enten sin egen eller sin herre og kvoter), var det ikke en sikkerhed. Hvis man svigtede sin pligt over for kongen, kunne det kongelige tilskud fortabes. King & quots-gaven var således lige så åben som hans beholders modgave af service, førstnævnte blev løbende fornyet og bekræftet af sidstnævnte.

At modtage jord fra en & quots herre var et tegn på særlig fordel. En godset var en symbolsk såvel som en økonomisk gave. Det adskilte sig fra andre gaver ved at dets besiddelse betød en ny, højere status for krigeren inden for king & quots -følget. Følgelig ser vi i det syvende århundrede fremkomsten af ​​forskellige klasser af kriger ædle - the geogu & torn (ungdom) og dugu & torn (bevist kriger). Førstnævnte var unge, ugifte krigere, ofte sønner af dugu & torn, som endnu ikke havde noget eget land, boede hos deres herre og deltog i og ledsagede ham, da han skred frem gennem sine godser, meget som & quot ledsagere & quot af Tacitus & quot dag havde gjort. Den velkendte bosættelse West Stow nær Bury St. Edmunds i Suffolk kan meget vel have repræsenteret en ejendom af den type, som ville have været bevilget en dugu & torn. Når en gesi & torn af denne slags havde vist sig til sin herre og tilfredsstillede, modtog han fra ham en passende begavelse jord, måske endda den jord, hans far havde haft fra herren. Dette gjorde ham til en dugu & torn & torn. Han ophørte med at bo i sin herre & quots husstand, selvom han stadig deltog i hans råd, levede han på den donerede ejendom, giftede sig, stiftede en familie og opretholdt en egen husstand. For at forbedre sin status dugu & torn ville ofte rejse sine egne militære tilbageholdere, sandsynligvis blandt de mere velstående ceorls på hans godser (sådan er navnet geneat [ledsager] stammer fra at beskrive mænd fra den øverste del af cierlisc klasse) og andre geogu & torn som endnu ikke havde svoret sig til en anden herre. Disse godser henvises ofte til a scir (shire) i de tidlige optegnelser. Denne militære følge var kendt som herren og kvoter høre & thornweru eller hir & torn [husstand eller & quothearth & quot tropper].

Da en konge samlede sin hær, blev dugu & torn blev forventet at besvare hans indkaldelse i spidsen for deres retinues, ligesom de ville deltage i hans domstol i fredstid. Det fyrd ville således have været konge & kvoter husholdningskrigere (gesi & torn) forstærket af følgende af hans landede beholdere (dugu & torn). Hvis en kriger ikke besvarede indkaldelsen af ​​king & quots, kunne han blive straffet, som King Ine & quots love viser:

51. Hvis a gesi & thorncund mon [adelsmand], der besidder jord forsømmer militærtjeneste, skal han betale 120 skilling og miste sit land [en adelsmand], der ikke besidder noget land, skal betale 60 skilling a cierlisc [bonde] betaler 30 skilling som straf for forsømmelse af fyrd.

Denne klausul beviser ikke, at den tidlige angelsaksiske fyrd bestod af bondekrigere, som nogle historikere hævder. Det viser snarere, at nogle bønder kæmpede sammen med adelen, da kongen tilkaldte sin hær. Disse ceorler var bønderne i kongens tjeneste eller i tjeneste for en af ​​hans dugu & torn. Når en angelsaksisk konge i det sjette til ottende århundrede valgte at krige, ville hans tilbageholdere følge ham i kamp, ​​ikke af pligt til at forsvare & quotn & quot eller & quotfolk, & quot, men fordi han var deres herre. På samme måde kæmpede deres egne mænd, også forpligtet af herredømme, under dem.

Størrelsen af ​​disse hære var ganske lille Kong Ine definerede størrelsen på en hær i sin lovkode:

13. & sekt1. Vi bruger udtrykket & quotthieves & quot, hvis antallet af mænd ikke overstiger syv, & quot band of marauders & quot [eller & quotwar-band & quot] for et tal mellem syv og femogtredive. Alt ud over dette er en & quotarmy & quot [her]

Selvom den nøjagtige størrelse på denne tids hære stadig er ukendt, kunne selv de mest magtfulde konger sandsynligvis ikke påkalde krigere, der tæller mere end de lave hundreder. Bestemt i slutningen af ​​det ottende århundrede & aelig & thorneling (prins) Cyneherd anså sin hær på fireogfirs mænd tilstrækkelig stor til at forsøge at indtage tronen i Wessex.

Da Centwine blev konge i Vestsakserne i 676AD, drev han sin rivaliserende frænder, C & aeligdwalla, i eksil. Den eksilerede adelsmand søgte tilflugt i & quot ørkenstedene i Chiltern and the Weald & quot og samlede om sig selv et krigsband. Med tiden blev hans tilhænger så stort, at han var i stand til at plyndre sørsakserne og dræbe deres konge i processen. Efter ni års brigandage vendte han tilbage til Wessex og begyndte at & quotkonkurrere for kongeriget. & Quot fyrd blev afgørende besejret. Det forekommer mest sandsynligt, at C & aeligdwalla & quots sejr var et krigsbands sejr over et andet, snarere end erobringen af ​​en & quotnation. & Quot

Gang på gang får vi at vide i kilderne, at en ny konge måtte forsvare sit rige med bittesmå hære. Senere i deres regeringstid gjorde de samme konger, der havde overlevet disse angreb, og deres kongeriger var stadig svage, og de findes ledende store hære. Sejr betød jo hyldest og land, og disse betød igen, at en konge kunne tiltrække flere krigere til sin tjeneste.

Hvordan var disse krigere udstyret? Desværre er vores eneste skriftlige kilder for denne periode heroiske fortællinger som Beowulf og Finnesburh -fragmentet osv., Men disse er bemærkelsesværdigt konsistente i deres beskrivelser. Fra Finnesburh -fragmentet hører vi:

& quot … Fugle i kamp skriger, den grå ulv hyler, spyd rasler, skjold svarer skaft. …Derefter spænder mange thegn, lastet med guld, på sit sværdbælte. Det hule skjold kaldte på dristige mænd og kvoter hænder, hjelme sprængte byrnie [mail-shirt] ødelagt, hans hjelm sprang op. & quot

I Beowulf hører vi mange referencer til våben og rustninger såsom:

Og så sprang Hrothgar & quots thane på sin hest og sprang med et spyd, galopperede ned til kysten der, spurgte han straks: & quotWarriors! Hvem er du, i dine frakker, der har styret dit høje skib over havbanerne til disse kyster? . Aldrig er krigere, der bærer deres skjolde, kommet til dette land på en mere åben måde. Du var heller ikke sikret min leder & quots godkendelse, mine frænder og quots samtykke. Jeg har aldrig set øjnene på en mere ædel mand, en kriger i rustning, end en blandt dit band han & quots ikke blot en holder, så adlet af sine våben. & Quot. Svinestammen, der skinnede stærkt, stod over deres hjelme: suverænt hærdet, belagt med glødende guld, den vogtede de dystre krigers liv. . Deres byrnier skinnede, de stærke led af skinnende kædepost knækkede sammen. Da de søfarvede rejsende havde nået selve gangen i deres frygtindgydende rustning, placerede de deres brede skjolde (arbejdede så dygtigt) mod Heorot & quots væg. Derefter sad de på en bænk de modige mænd og kvoter rustning sang. The seafarer"s gear stood all together, a grey tipped forest of ash spears that armed troop was well equipped with weapons. . in common we all share sword, helmet, byrnie, the trappings of war."

These descriptions are borne out by archaeology. Male burials in the pagan period were often accompanied by war gear. On average around 47% of male burials from the pagan period contain weapons of some sort. This figure has often been used to argue for the idea of a "nation in arms", but has conveniently overlooked the fact that although spears were found in just over 86% of the accompanied burials, shields were found in only 44%. As we have seen earlier, and as the literary evidence bears out, spear and shield made up the basic war-gear of an Anglo-Saxon warrior. It should be borne in mind that, although the spear was used in battle, it was also a tool of the hunt. Many of the interred spears probably represent hunting tools rather than weapons. As we start to look at other types of weapon, we find they are far less common than the spear and shield. Swords are found in only about 12% of accompanied burials, axes in about 2% and seaxes (traditionally, the knife from which the Saxons derive their name.) only about 4%. This makes for an interesting comparison with the Saxons" continental homelands where some 50 - 70% contained seaxes. Armour and helmets, whilst not unknown are decidedly rare and are usually only found in the richest of burials. Certainly in archaeology they seem to be far rarer than in literature, although the few examples we have agree remarkably well with the literary descriptions. This apparent rarity of armour and helmets may have more to do with burial customs than the scarcity of these items at the time. It appears that the pagan Anglo-Saxons believed in some warrior heaven, similar in nature to the Viking Valhalla. The grave goods were what they would need in this afterlife, and in order to fight the warrior needed weapons, but if death was only a "temporary setback", why give them armour that could be far better used by their mortal counterparts?

It would seem likely from these sources that the kings and more important noblemen would possess a coat-of-mail and a crested helmet, a sword, shield and spear(s). Noblemen of middling rank may have possessed a helm, perhaps a sword, and a shield and spear(s). The lowest ranking warriors would have been equipped with just a shield and spear(s), and perhaps a secondary weapon such as an axe or seax.

The advent of Christianity in the seventh century was to bring about a change in the fyrd which would totally change its nature by the middle of the ninth century. As Christianity spread the monasteries needed land on which to build, and as we have already seen land tended to be given only for the lifetime of the king. However, the monasteries needed a more secure arrangement than just the hope that the king"s successor would maintain the donation. This was achieved through the introduction of a Roman system known as ius perpetuum, or as the Anglo-Saxons called it bocland [bookland]. Under this system the king gave the land to the Church in eternity, and the grant was recorded in writing [the book] and witnessed by important noblemen and churchmen so that the land could not be taken back in future. Although book-land was foreign in origin, it flourished in England because the notion a man gave so that he might receive was anything but foreign to the pagan English. Book-land must have struck early Christian kings as a reasonable demand on the part of the Church. A Christian king gave a free gift to God in hope of receiving from Him an eternal gift - salvation. Whilst nothing that he could give to the Lord would be sufficient, for no man could be God"s equal, just as no retainer could hope to be the equal of his lord, a king could at least respond with an eternal terrestrial gift, a perpetual grant of land and the rights over it. This exchange of gifts confirmed the relationship of lordship that existed between a king and his Lord God in the same way as the relationship between a gesiþ and his lord.

How did book-land impinge upon the early fyrd arrangement? On the simplest level, what was given to the Church could not be used to endow warriors. As time went by more and more land was booked to the church, and many of the kings noblemen became disgruntled. Some of the noblemen offered to build abbeys and become the abbot on their land in return for the book-right, and this was often granted even if the noblemen did not keep his end of the bargain. The holders of these early books, both genuine and spurious, enjoyed their tenures free from all service, including military service. And by giving the land in book-right, the king had removed it permanently from his control.

The kings faced a dilemma. This dilemma was first solved by the Mercian kings of the mid-eighth century, when King Æþelbald decreed that all the churches and monasteries in his realm were to be free from "all public renders, works and charges, reserving only two things: the construction of bridges and the defence of fortifications against enemies."

By the latter part of the eighth century book-right was being granted to secular as well as ecclesiastical men. In order to maintain his fyrd, King Offa of Mercia further refined Æþthelbald"s decree by giving land free of all service "undtagen for matters pertaining to expeditions [fyrd], and the construction of bridges and fortifications, which is necessary for the whole people and from which none ought to be excused." By the mid ninth century these "common burdens" (as they were often referred to) were being demanded in all the kingdoms.

In short the idea of military service as a condition of land tenure was a consequence of book-right. Under the traditional land-holding arrangement a stipulation of this sort would have been unnecessary - a holder of loanland from the king was by definition a king"s man, and his acceptance of an estate obliged him to respond with fidelity and service to his royal lord. Book-land tenure, a hereditary possession, was quite a different matter, for such a grant permanently removed the land from the king"s control without assuring that future generations who owned the property would recognise the king or his successors as their lord. By imposing the "common burdens", the king guaranteed military service from book-land and tied the holders of the book securely to the ruler of the tribe. By this time the terms geoguþ og duguþ were being replaced by dreng (young warrior) and thegn (one who serves). Det dreng still attended the king directly, whilst the thegn was usually the holder of book-land. By now, the term scir usually denoted more than just a single estate, and the thegn who held the scir was usually referred to as an ealdorman. Many of the lesser thegns within the scir would have held their land from the ealdorman in addition to those who held land directly from the king.


Hoard of Golden Treasure Is the Most Important Anglo-Saxon Find in History

Britain’s most spectacular Anglo-Saxon treasures may well have been captured on a series of Dark Age battlefields – during bitter conflicts between rival English kingdoms.

Archaeologists, who have just completed a major study of the finds, now believe that they were captured in several big mid-seventh century battles.

It is likely that the treasures, now known as the Staffordshire Hoard, were seized (in perhaps between three and six substantial military encounters) by the English midlands kingdom of Mercia from the kingdoms of Northumbria, East Anglia and possibly Wessex.

The hoard – the greatest Anglo-Saxon golden treasure ever found – is one of the most important archaeological discoveries ever made in Britain.

After 10 years of detailed research, archaeologists are to publish a complete account of the hundreds of high status gold and silver objects found by a metal detectorist a decade ago in a field in southeast Staffordshire.

The book – published by the world’s oldest historical organisation, the Society of Antiquaries of London – describes all of the hoard’s 700 objects (4kg of gold items and 1.7kg of silver ones).

Strikingly, they do not seem to reflect the wide range of gold and silver artefacts which would have existed in Anglo-Saxon society.

Instead, the study demonstrates that the material is almost exclusively military in nature. Even one of the small number of ecclesiastical objects in the hoard appears to have been of a potentially military character.

The hoard was made up of golden fittings from up to 150 swords, gold and garnet elements of a very high status seax (fighting knife), a spectacular gilded silver helmet, an impressive 30cm-long golden cross, a beautiful gold and garnet pectoral cross, a probable bishop’s headdress – and parts of what is likely to have been a portable battlefield shrine or reliquary.

The extraordinarily ornate bishop’s headdress is the world’s earliest surviving example of high status ecclesiastical headgear.

Dating from the mid-seventh century AD, its presence in an otherwise predominantly military hoard suggests that its ecclesiastical owner may well have been performing a supporting role on a battlefield.

Significantly, the headdress bears no resemblance to later medieval or modern bishops’ mitres – and is therefore likely to trigger debate among historians as to its stylistic origins because it looks so similar in basic design to headdresses believed by early medieval clerics to have been worn by biblical Jewish high priests and also resembles headdresses worn by pagan Roman priests.

The discovery may therefore prompt scholarly speculation that the style of headwear worn by senior Christian priests in the early medieval period could have been at least partly inspired by perceived biblical precedent – or may even have been inherited from the pagan Roman past.

The headdress – made of beautifully crafted gold, inlaid with garnets and white and dark red glass – dates from the period when Christianity was being re-established across many of the local kingdoms that would eventually become England.

It represents the status and prestige of the Church – but, significantly, it is decorated with typical pre-Christian Anglo-Saxon semi-abstract animal designs as well as seven Christian crosses.

If indeed the archaeologists are right in believing it to be potentially an early-to-mid-seventh century bishop’s headdress, it would have been worn, perhaps during royal or other ceremonial events, by the first or second generation of clergy involved in the re-Christianisation of what is now England.

The portable shrine – potentially presided over by the owner of the headdress or a similar senior cleric – was probably designed to be carried into battle on two horizontal poles (like a litter or later sedan chair) – in order to obtain God’s help in securing military victory.

Only seven elements of the shrine, all made of gold, have survived.

One element (probably part of a cross) bears a highly significant inscription – a quotation from the Book of Numbers. It reads “Rise up, LORD, and let thine enemies be scattered and let them that hate thee flee before thee”.

Its biblical context is that of Moses uttering these words alongside the Ark of the Covenant accompanying the Israelites in their journey across the wilderness, threatened by hostile tribes. The nature of the inscription suggests that the precious shrine or reliquary (in Latin, arca) had probably been used as a war talisman in the long and bitter conflicts between warring kingdoms in early Anglo-Saxon England.

The ecclesiastical treasures and secular/military items appear to have been treated in a potentially disrespectful way before they were buried. They had been broken and/or folded and deliberately bent out of shape.

Back in the mid-seventh century, southeast Staffordshire (the area near Lichfield where the material was found) was controlled by a powerful pagan Anglo-Saxon king called Penda.

His geopolitical and military activity formed a major part of the bloodsoaked rivalry and conflict between his own kingdom (Mercia) and other, often Christian, kingdoms in other parts of England – especially in Northumbria and East Anglia.

Given the probable mid-seventh century date of the burial of the treasure, it is therefore possible that it was war booty captured by the pagan Mercian king, Penda, from armies led by Christians, such as the East Anglians.

One possible explanation is that the treasure was ritually buried as a Mercian pagan war trophy – perhaps even as a thanks offering to a pagan deity for delivering victory.

Putting Christian material into the ground in such a way may have been seen by Penda (or an equivalent figure) as a spiritual or ideological victory over Christianity to mirror a military one.

The 10-year investigation into the hoard has involved detailed scientific examination of the metalwork, exhaustive art historical assessment of the stylistic and iconographic aspects of the artefacts and research into the potential historical contexts of its burial.

However, now that the material has been fully published, there is likely to be an ongoing debate as to the most likely historical narrative or narratives that led to so much gold and silver being buried almost 1,400 years ago in a field in Staffordshire.

This bas-relief sculpture from Rome shows what at least some ancient Roman pagan priests wore on their heads.

Scholars would love to know who originally owned the bishop’s headdress, the portable battlefield shrine and the golden helmet. But sadly the reality is that it may never be possible to definitively solve those particular mysteries.

However, there are potential candidates for the sort of individuals who may have been their original owners.

At around the time that the headdress was made, East Anglia was being Christianised, by the area’s first bishop a French cleric called Felix. It is therefore conceivable that the headdress was commissioned by him.

His successor as bishop was a man called Thomas, an East Anglian of possible Celtic British origin, and he would certainly be a candidate for the individual the Mercians actually captured the headdress from – because he died, potentially in battle, around the time that the East Anglian kingdom was defeated by Mercia.

The gilt silver helmet almost certainly belonged to an Anglo-Saxon royal figure.

“It potentially adorned the head of a king of East Anglia,” said one of the Staffordshire hoard book authors, archaeologist Chris Fern of the University of York.

“It is even more spectacular than the famous early seventh century helmet unearthed at the Anglo-Saxon royal burial site at Sutton Hoo, Suffolk, 80 years ago.

“Such helmets were the equivalents of royal crowns in Anglo-Saxon England,” said Mr Fern.

But perhaps one of the most fascinating questions raised by the Staffordshire Hoard is what inspired the strikingly unusual design of the probable bishop’s headdress. Was it biblical precedent – or ancient Roman priestly headgear? If the latter, it would suggest a potentially significant additional aspect of continuity between pagan Imperial Rome and early medieval Christianity.

One avenue of future research may well be linguistic rather than purely archaeological or historical.

Despite the fact that bishops are depicted bare-headed in Anglo-Saxon art, unpublished linguistic research by Anglo-Saxon clothing and textiles specialist Professor Gale Owen-Crocker suggests that early Anglo-Saxon bishops did indeed wear headgear known as a hufe.

Her research suggests that the Latin word for a bishop’s hufe var flammeolum eller flammeum. Intriguingly, the pagan Roman priests, whose headgear may potentially have been the original inspiration for the type of bishop’s headdress in the Staffordshire Hoard, were known as the Flamines – and that suggests a potential and tantalising link.

The ecclesiastical material all appears to date from the second quarter of the seventh century – and to have been buried some time in the third quarter of that century.

The Christian and secular artefacts are being described in full for the first time in the newly-published book The Staffordshire Hoard: An Anglo-Saxon Treasure.

The treasure is on display at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke on Trent. Although it is conceivable that it was interred for pagan ritual purposes, it is also possible that it was buried for safekeeping – and that its owners never returned to retrieve it.

The research into the Staffordshire Hoard has been funded by Historic England.

Its chief executive, Duncan Wilson, said: “The range of fascinating objects discovered has given us an extraordinary insight into Saxon craftsmanship and culture and this new monograph gives in-depth detail of everything we know about this spectacular discovery.”

To supplement the newly published book, the public can now access a new online information and picture database about the Staffordshire Hoard.

[Editor’s Note: The original article includes close-ups of many of the artifacts.]


Early Anglo-Saxon Swords - History

History :
When Rome was weakening early in the fifth century c.e., troops in the outlying regions, including the British Isles, were withdrawn. Walls, roads, and baths remain even now. They also left the native Celts and Celtic-speaking Britons somewhat christianized, and Picts and Scots in the north, but "political" power fell to unstable tribal units. One of these leaders, Vortigern, "invited" Angles, Saxons, and Jutes to join his military power, so the land saw a swell of invasions by Jutes -- a germanic tribe from Denmark -- in 449, followed soon by Angles and Saxons. (The current name originates as "Angle-Land.") These hordes settled in and pushed the Celts into Cornwall, Wales, Ireland, and to the north. King Arthur grew from legends of one Celtic chieftain who held out better than most.

The Anglo-Saxon social structure consisted of tribal units led by chieftains ("kings," or "lords") who, theoretically at least, earned their respect from their warriors (or "retainers," or "thanes," the group being called a "comitatus"). Kings should display the heroic ideal and be known for an extraordinary and courageous feat or for success in war, all preceded by some boasting. The king must be a generous "ring-giver" too -- that is, he must dish out the spoils of war to his thanes rather than hoard the treasures won in tribal warfare (a practice that has survived in diluted form, says Tom Garbaty, with the Queen giving medals to the Beatles and such). These weapons and treasures are important too. The craftsmanship is always elaborate and stories accrue about each ding. Although theoretically the thanes freely agreed to join a king, it was nevertheless vital for one's sense of self to be part of a tribe. The thane shouldn't survive the king, and the worst fate for these people was to be exiled or to outlast all one's fellow warriors. The sense of identity came from the warrior community.

Fighting was a way of life, and not to avenge the death of a family member was a social disgrace, so endlessly intricate blood-feuds generated perpetual excuses for going to war. The two alternatives for ending a blood-feud were 1) paying "wergild" -- the man price, or 2) arranging a marriage. Women were known as "cup-bearers" (because they served the mead) and "peace-weavers" (because of this function whereby feuds could be ended). But none of this really ever worked. The germanic tribes hated peace fighting was more honorable.

Occasionally some tribes temporarily grouped together for a larger war task, or against Viking invaders, but there was no national unity or any Round Table in these early years. Alfred the Great and Athelstan made names for themselves as successful against the Norse.

In 597 St. Augustine was sent by Pope Gregory the Great (Mr. Chant) to convert the Anglo-Saxons. Writing came in only with Christianity, and the Latin alphabet ousted the crude germanic runes. In general, churchmen were anxious to eliminate pagan stories, so Beowulf is quite unusual. Edwin, King of Northumbria, converted to Christianity in 627. Laws started to be written. The Venerable Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People emerges in 731.

Alfred the Great in the late 800s united the tribes somewhat successfully against the Norse and was a patron of literature -- a political maneuver, since language and literature help form a national identity. Latin works were translated into Old English, including Bede the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles were begun (and lasted to the mid-12th century) and works were preserved through copyings (such as Beowulf ).

Language and Style :
Old English is not uniform. It consists of various dialects, but literature needs to treat it as a language. We get our syntax from the Anglo-Saxons, our preference for and greater ease with nouns, the tendencies to simplify grammar and shorten words, and the "law of recessive accent" -- the tendency to place the accent on the first syllable and to slur over subsequent syllables. (Later words adopted from outside illustrate: "quantité" is anglicanized to "quántity" "contraire" to "contrary.")

The Anglo-Saxon gods lend their names to days of the week: Tuesday from Tiw, the dark god Wednesday from Woden, the war god Thursday from Thor, the thunder god Friday from Frigga, goddess of the home.

Most Anglo-Saxon poetry emerges from an oral tradition and was meant for mead-hall entertainment. Scops (the poets) and Gleemen (harpists) sung or recited and were the only historians of the time. The poetic structure was based on accent and alliteration (not rhyme and meter), and made use of stock formulae.

Epithets were useful for alliteration, so God could be called "Weard" (guardian) or "Meatod" (measurer) or "Wuldor-Fæder" (glory-father) or "Drihten" (lord) or "Scyppend" (creator) or "Frea" (master), etc. A king could be a "ring-giver" or a "noble lord" or a "righteous guardian." A phrase replaces a simpler name.

Appositions show up as several epithets in a row, and we're even more top-heavy with noun-phrases.

Kennings were poetic phrases consisting of compound metaphors. The sea could be called "the swan's road" or "the whale's way." As mentioned above, women were "cup-bearers" or "peace-weavers."

Litotes refers to ironic understatement, another apparent favorite trope of the Anglo-Saxons in which the affirmative is expressed by the negation of its contrary. "Not easily did I come through it with my life."

Johnson, David and Elaine Treharne, eds. Readings in Medieval Texts: Interpreting Old and Middle English Literature . NY: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Mursell, Gordon. The Wisdom of the Anglo-Saxons . Oxford: Lion Publishing, 1997.

Rosenwein, Barbara H. A Short History of the Middle Ages . Orchard Park, NY: Broadview Press, 2002.


ɿind of the century': medieval hoard of treasures unearthed in Cambridge

An early medieval graveyard unearthed beneath student accommodation at Cambridge University has been described as “one of the most exciting finds of Anglo-Saxon archaeology since the 19th century”.

King’s College discovered the “extensive” cemetery, containing more than 60 graves, after demolishing a group of 1930s buildings which had recently housed graduates and staff in the west of the city, to make way for more modern halls.

Around 200 items in the graves, including bronze brooches, bead necklaces, swords, short blades, pottery and glass flasks, have been systematically uncovered. Most date from the early Anglo-Saxon period (c400-650 CE), although evidence of iron age structures and Roman earthworks has also been found.

Dr Caroline Goodson, who teaches early medieval history at King’s, said the human remains they found were remarkably “well preserved”. “The alkaline soil, which is typical around here, hasn’t decomposed the bones.”

This is significant, because it will enable archaeologists to apply very modern scientific techniques to reveal the diet and DNA of the dead, permitting analysis of migration and family relationships.

A late Roman glass flask found at the site. Photograph: Albion Archaeology

Goodson said the excavators – a team from Albion Archaeology hired by King’s – had been “surprised” to find so many graves and such an extensive early medieval cemetery surrounded by Roman ditches and so close to the remains of Roman Cambridge. According to Bede’s Kirkelig historie, which was written in the eighth century, Cambridge was abandoned – like many other Roman towns – when the Romans withdrew their military forces from England during the 5th century. “We already know that Cambridge wasn’t fully abandoned. But what we’re seeing now is a greater and clearer picture of life in the post-Roman settlements.”

Goodson speculates that people living in Cambridgeshire were a mix of descendants from earlier Roman populations and recent migrants to Britain from the continent, living in a post-imperial world.

“They are no longer living as the Romans did, they’re eating differently, dressing differently and finding different ways of exploiting the land. They are changing the way they are living during a period of considerable fluidity.”

Some of the finds throw up questions about the emotional connections people living at the time of the burials may have felt towards the Romans who lived in Cambridge before them. In one grave, archaeologists found a body buried with what appears to be a late Roman piece of glass shaped like a small barrel for storing wine.

“It looks like a classic Roman object being reused in a post-Roman context, as grave goods.” Another grave looks like a typical late Roman burial from the fifth century, suggesting there may have been continuity of use of the burial ground from the Roman period onwards. “That would be really interesting,” said Goodson.

So far archaeologists have not found “strong evidence” that people living in the sixth century were still choosing to bury their dead near late Roman graves, but few graveyards of this size have ever been scientifically excavated using modern methods and technologies, such as advanced radiocarbon dating techniques and isotopic analysis.

The site of the dig, in the west of the city. Photograph: Dronescapes

“It would be great to say very clearly – and we’re going to need an ample suite of carbon-14 dates to do this –… that we’ve got people using this site from the fifth until the seventh century,” says Goodson. “We can see that the burial of the dead and the treatment of their bodies is particularly significant to the living in a way that is different from elsewhere in the post-Roman world.” That points to a different world view and a different “cosmology”: “It’s a new form of commemoration.”

She hopes to find out whether anyone in the cemetery died of the Justinianic plague, a pandemic that raged across Europe in the 540s.

“I’m really interested to find out whether it was in Cambridge, too, and how much that relates to what else was going on.”

This article was amended on 31 January 2021 to add text clarifying that the excavation was carried out for King’s by a team from Albion Archaeology.


4. The Prittlewell Prince

In 2003, archaeologists from the Museum of London Archaeology Service working on a small area of land in Essex as part of a road improvement scheme revealed an elite Anglo-Saxon burial chamber. It is thought to be the earliest ‘princely’ Anglo-Saxon burial, dating to around 580-605 AD.

As with Sutton Hoo, the amazing finds took time to conserve and analyse, for the Prittlewell burial artefacts, this process lasting to 2019 was partly funded by us. Among the finds were parts of a musical instrument called a lyre – and gold foil crosses which may have been placed over the eyes of the dead person. The latter may mean the person was an early convert to Christianity, despite the pagan overtones of a burial with a range of grave goods.


Early Anglo-Saxon Swords - History

I work as curator of the European Early Medieval and Sutton Hoo collections at the British Museum. I specialise in early Anglo-Saxon material culture with a particular research interest in metalwork, beliefs and ritual, warrior culture, attitudes and world-views, and the life-histories of artefacts. I also have a special interest in the Sutton Hoo ship burial, its context and its associated archive.

I worked as assistant curator on the temporary Room 2 exhibition 'Highlights from the World of Sutton Hoo' (2010-12) and was lead curator on the refurbishment of the British Museum's permanent early medieval gallery, which reopened as the Sir Paul and Lady Ruddock Gallery of Sutton Hoo and Europe AD 300-1100 in March 2014. In 2019 I curated a small display entitled 'Sutton Hoo: Discovery, Destiny, Donation' in Room 2, celebrating the 80th anniversary of the Sutton Hoo discovery. I am a regular contributor on early medieval topics on television, radio and social media.

My PhD was awarded by the Institute of Archaeology, UCL in December 2013. Its primary focus was the relationship between swords and their wielders in early medieval Northern Europe, and in particular how swords were perceived by those who owned, used and encountered them. It was a multi-disciplinary study incorporating art, archaeology and texts, and compared Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian attitudes.


  • Metal detectorists first discovered the location of the shallow burial site in 2018
  • They called in experts to carry out a full archaeological survey of the burial site
  • The team found the remains of a 6ft tall Anglo-Saxon warrior with luxury items
  • This has changed the way historians think about the history of the mid-Thames basin during the 6th century, suggesting it was more important than believed

Published: 09:12 BST, 5 October 2020 | Updated: 09:34 BST, 7 October 2020

The remains of an Anglo-Saxon warrior dubbed the 'Marlow Warlord' who lived during the 6th century AD have been uncovered by metal detectorists.

The 6ft-tall warrior had been buried on a hilltop alongside an ornately decorated scabbard, a selection of expensive luxury items, spears and glass vessels.

The pagan burial site had remained undiscovered for more than 1,400 years until it was found by Sue and Mich Washington using metal detection equipment in 2018.

University of Reading archaeologists excavated the site near Marlow in Berkshire in August this year - as it was 'very shallow' and 'at risk from farming activity'.

The discovery of the site, complete with the remains of a 'formidable warrior' suggest this region was more important in post-Roman Britain than first thought.

The remains of an Anglo-Saxon warrior dubbed the 'Marlow Warlord' who lived during the 6th century AD have been uncovered by a metal detectorist

The 6ft tall warrior had been buried on a hilltop alongside an ornately decorated scabbard and sword (pictured), a selection of expensive luxury items, spears and glasses

Reading researchers say it was the first discovery of its kind in the mid-Thames basin - an area often overlooked by experts in favour of the Upper Thames and London.

The burial site was found in a field in Berkshire near Marlow but the exact location hasn't been revealed due to the risk of people 'descending on the site' and disturbing the archaeological work.

A team involving archaeologists from the University of Reading and local volunteer groups carried out a two-week excavation of the site in August 2020.

This activity included a geophysical survey, test excavations, and a final excavation of the grave site to uncover the full glory of the warlords burial hoard.

Found buried with the Marlow Warlord were a sword with an exceptionally well-preserved scabbard made of wood and leather with decorative bronze fittings - making it one of the best-preserved sheathed swords known from the period.

There was also a selection of spears, bronze and glass vessels, dress-fittings, shears and other implements - all currently being conserved for further study.

The man, who was buried on a hilltop site with commanding views over the surrounding Thames valley, must have been a high-status warlord, the team believe.

Glass and bronze bowls were included among the burial goods found with the 6ft tall warrior

University of Reading archaeologists excavated the site near Marlow in Berkshire in August this year - as it was 'very shallow' and 'at risk from farming activity'

Sue Washington (left) was among a team of metal detectorists that uncovered the first signs of the burial ground. A group from the University of Reading (right) worked on a full survey

Dr Gabor Thomas, a specialist in early medieval archaeology, said the warrior would have been tall and robust compared to the men at the time, adding that he 'would have been an imposing figure even today'.

'The nature of his burial and the site with views overlooking the Thames suggest he was a respected leader of a local tribe,' Thomas explained.

Thomas was called in after Sue Washington unearthed two bronze bowls during visits to the site with the Maidenhead Search Society metal detecting club.

Realising the age and significance of the find, she stopped digging and alerted the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) who recovered the fragile artefacts.

Dr Thomas said it was a surprising discovery as they had expected to find 'some kind of Anglo-Saxon burial' but the extent of what they found exceeded expectations.

The burial site was found in a field in Berkshire near Marlow, Buckinghamshire - but the exact location hasn't been revealed due to the risk of people 'descending on the site' and disturbing the archaeological work


Early Anglo-Saxon Swords - History

The Anglo Saxon Broken Back Seax
An article by Frank Docherty

The origins of the seax are difficult to determine, but early forms of the weapon have been found in 5th century Frankish graves. This is surprising in as much as the weapon gave its name to the people known as "Saxons" who were one of three Germanic tribes who settled in Britain.

The term "scramaseax" is sometimes used in modern descriptions of this weapon, but it occurs only once in an historical account. I hans History of the Franks, Gregory of Tours describes how sixth century Frankish king Sigibert was assassinated by two young men using "strong knives commonly called scramaseax" (cultris validis quos vulgo scramasaxos vocant).

The blade of the knife terminates in an iron tang by which the grip was attached. The grip was made of perishable material such as wood, horn or bone, and does not generally survive. The majority of knives have quite short tangs, between 3cm and 7cm long, although occasionally it is much longer, suggesting the grip was suitable to be gripped in two hands. The tang is usually a plain iron bar tapering towards the end. It can therefore be presumed that the grip was bored out to hold the tang which was held in place by friction, perhaps aided by softwood wedges or glue. It is possible the tang was heated and burned into place although this would tend to weaken the fabric of the grip. Occasionally knives have metal hilt fittings, either a pommel or both a lower-guard and pommel.

Beyond this basic description, the typological classification of the weapon follows the system devised in modern times to describe Frankish finds:

Class A: The narrow/small seax 5th-6th century
Class B: The broad seax 7th century
Class C: The long seax 8th century




Part of a 10th century burial cross

In its shorter forms, sometimes just a few inches long, the seax typically was worn across the stomach with edge upright and with the hilt at the right-hand side. This orientation prevented the weapon from resting on its cutting edge. A 10th century burial cross in a churchyard in Middleton, Yorkshire shows a warrior surrounded by weapons. His seax is shown suspended from his waistband. (Shown at right)

In spite of extensive research on the way this weapon was made—including metallurgical tests, examination of grave finds, and even practical experiments in making modern day seaxes (of which I have several good examples of all sizes—relatively little is known about how it was used in battle.



Martial Use
It is certainly possible that there was more than one way to fight with a seax. It may have been used simply as a short sword or a knife along the same principles set down by later masters of the English martial arts, but there are a few other clues about the martial use of the seax.

Fortunately, we have evidence from literary and archaeological sources about many historic weapons and fighting techniques. These sources tell us that the English warrior, and even everyday men and women, systematically trained in martial arts probably already ancient to them, and which comprised a fighting system. For example, the famous British Antiquary Leland tells us that King Alfred the Great (871-899AD) had his warriors trained in unarmed as well as armed combat. The literature of other cultures may offer further clues about Anglo Saxon use of the seax.

England is not the first home of the English. Their ancestral home—known as Angeln—was situated on the mainland of continental Europe in an area that roughly corresponds to the southern half of present-day Denmark. The Engle, as the English were then known, were a Germanic race so it is likely that their culture would have had something in common with that of other Germanic races who settled the region. It is therefore not unreasonable to suppose certain likenesses in the military skills of the Engle and the methods of other early Germanic peoples of Western Europe. It may then be possible to extract some understanding of the military practices of the Engle from classical sources such as Tacitus.

The physical features of the broken back seax itself provide some clues to how it might have been used in combat. Even in its longest forms, the seax allowed a warrior to fight in close. Its sharp wedge shape gives it great—even armour-piercing—strength. A cutting blow would smash flesh and bone beneath mail. On an unarmoured body, a cut would prove to be crippling or deadly. Likewise, its needle point would make thrusts devastating to the human body.

Konklusion
However it was used, the broken back seax must have been a very effective weapon, as demonstrated by its widespread popularity. Even from a modern perspective, I much prefer this ancient and effective edged weapon over any other for personal defense. Fifteen-hundred years later, the broken back seax still makes a very convincing case for itself.

Om forfatteren
Frank Docherty is an English martial arts practitioner with 23 years training and who is a Provost and Assistant Instructor to Ancient Maister Terry Brown in the English martial arts. His interests lie in the broadsword, backsword, sword & buckler, sword & dagger, quarterstaff, bill hook, threshalls, and knife work based on Silver's System and Principles. He also practices bare fist fighting, and has a special interest in the seax, particularly the English broken back seax. Mr. Docherty has a Shodan in Jodo (Japanese stick fighting), a Shodan in Iaido, a black sash in five animals kung fu, and has been a kickboxing Instructor.

Kilder
English Martial Arts: Terry Brown
Anglo-Saxon Weapons and Warfare: Richard Underwood
Slaget ved Maldon: Translated and edited by Bill Griffiths
Beowulf: Text and Translation: Translated by John Porter
English Heroic Legends: Kathleen Herbert
The English Elite in 1066, Gone but not forgotten: Donald Henson
The English Warrior from earliest times to 1066: Stephen Pollington
Peace-Weavers and Shield-Maidens, Women in Early English Society: Kathleen Herbert