“Origin of the Anglo – Saxon race” is a book published in 1906 by Thomas William Shore, author of 'a history of Hampshire,' etc, Honorary secretary London and Middlesex archaeological society; honorary Organizing secretary of the Hampshire field club and Archaeological society. In it the author gives detailed analysis of the “Anglo Saxons”, and shows us that both Angles and Saxons were just terms used for complex federations of south Baltic Germanic, Norse and West Slavic tribes. He describes the late Iron Age and early medieval northern central Europe as a melting pot where future great nations of Franks, Angles, Saxons, Danes, Norse, Slavs, were being created from tribal federations of mixed Germanic and Slavic ethnic, linguistic and cultural origin.
I recommend the book as a must read for anyone who wants to understand the Iron Age and early medieval Baltic and its relationship with British Isles and Ireland. It opened my eyes and showed me the link between the Iron Age invasions and Viking invasions of British Isles. It also shows the extent of intermixing between the Germanic and Slavic people of the South Baltic area.
Origin of the Anglo Saxon race
THE SAXONS AND THEIR TRIBES
WE have so long been accustomed to call some of the English settlers Saxons that it is with some surprise we learn none of them called themselves by this name. As far as England was concerned, this was the name by which they were commonly called by the Britons, and it was not generally used by the people themselves until some centuries later. Nations and tribes, as well as individuals, must always be known either by their native names or by the names which other people give them. They may, consequently, have more than one name. The name Saxon, although not used by the tribes that invaded England in the fifth and sixth centuries as their own designation for themselves, is more ancient than this invasion. Before the end of the Roman rule in Britain it was used to denote the part of the English coast from the Wash to the Solent and the Continental coast of North-Eastern France and Belgium, both of which were known as the Saxon Shore. This name apparently arose from the descent of pirates who were called Saxons. On the other hand, there is evidence leading to the conclusion that there were early settlements of people known as Saxons on these coasts. Both these views may be right. for the piratical Saxons, like the Northmen of later centuries, may first have plundered the coasts and subsequently settled along them. In any case, a Roman official or admiral, known as Comes litoris Saxonici, Count of the Saxon Shore, was appointed to look after these shores. After the departure of the Roman legions the partly Rornanized Britons naturally gave the name Saxon to invaders from Germany, as this name had come down to them from the Roman period. for after the time of Constantine the Great all the inhabitants of the coasts of Germany who practised piracy were included under the Saxon name. It is a curious circumstance that the parts of England in which the Saxon place-names. such as Sexebi and Sextone, survived at the time of Domesday survey are not in those counties which were comprised within either of the Saxon kingdoms of England. In considering the settlement, the name Saxons comes before us in a wider sense than that of a tribe, as denoting tribes acting together, practically a confederacy. In this sense it was used by the early British writers, Angles, Jutes, and people of other tribes. all being Saxons to them, and the settlers in all parts of England were known as Saxons by them, as well as the people of Sussex, Essex, and Wessex. In this wider sense the name Saxonia was used by Bede, for though an Anglian, he described himself as an office-bearer in Saxonia. The settlers in Hampshire, who after a time were known in common with those in neighbouring counties as West Saxons, did not call themselves Saxons, but Gewissas, and the most probable meaning of that name is confederates, or those acting together in some assured bond of union. Their later name of West Saxons was apparently a geographical one.
The name Saxon was no doubt found a convenient one to describe the tribal people who migrated to England from the north coasts of Germany, extending from the mouth of the Rhine to that of the Vistula, but among themselves these Saxons were certainly known by their tribal names. Saxons from older Saxony were no doubt largely represented among them, but the singular fact remains that in England the name Saxon was used, at first, only by the British chroniclers as a general designation for their enemies, while the incoming people were clearly known among themselves by their tribal names. At various periods people called Saxons in Germany colonized other lands besides England. Some migrated eastward across the Elbe into the country of the Wends, and began that process of gradual absorption under which the Wendish people and their language have now been completely merged into the German. Others migrated to the south.
The early reference by Cæsar to a German nation he calls the Cherusci probably refers to the people afterwards called Saxons. Some German scholars identify the god of these people, called Heru or Cheru, as identical with the eponymous god of the Saxons, called Saxnot, who corresponded to the northern Tyr, or Tius, after whom our Tuesday has been named. The Saxon name was at one time applied to the islands off the west coast of Schleswig, now known as the North Frisian Islands, and the country called by the later name Saxland extended from the lower course of the Elbe to the Baltic coast near Rugen. The earlier Saxony, however, from which settlers in England came was both westward and northward of the Elbe. There were some Saxons who at an early period migrated as far west as the country near the mouth of the Rhine, and it was probably from this colony that some of their descendants migrated centuries later into Transylvania, where their posterity still preserve the ancient name among the Hungarians or Magyars.
As regards the Saxons in England, it is also a singular circumstance that they were not known to the Northmen by that name, for throughout the Sagas no instance occurs in which the Northmen are said to have come into contact in England with people called Saxons. One of the names by which they were known to the Scandinavians appears to have been Swæfas.
The Saxons are not mentioned by Tacitus, who wrote about the end of the first century, but are mentioned by Ptolemy in the second century as inhabiting the country north of the Lower Elbe. Wherever they may have been at first located in Germany, it is certain that people of this nation migrated to other districts from that occupied by the main body. We know of the Saxon migration to the coast of Belgium and North-Eastern France. and of the special official appointed by the Romans to protect these coasts and the south-eastern coasts of Britain. On the Continental side of the Channel there certainly were early settlements of Saxons, and it is probable there were some on the British side. These historical references show that the name is a very old one, which was used in ancient Germany for a race of people, while in England it was used both in reference to the Old Saxons and also in a wider sense by both Welsh and English chroniclers. In Germany the name was probably applied to the inhabitants of the sea-coast and water systems of the Lower Rhine, Weser, Lower Elbe and Eyder, to Low Germans on the Rhine, to Frisians and Saxons on the Elbe, and to North Frisians on the Ryder.
In considering the subject of the alliances of various nations and tribes in the Anglo-Saxon conquests, it is desirable to remember how great a part confederacies played in the wanderings and conquests of the northern races of Europe during and after the decline of the Roman Empire. The name Frank supplies a good example. This was the name of a great confederation, all the members of it agreeing in calling themselves free. Hence, instead of assuming migrations (some historically improbable) to account for the Franks of France, the Franks of Franche-comte, and the Franks of Franconia, we may simply suppose them to be Franks of different divisions of the Frank confederation—i.e., people of various great tribes united under a common designation. Again, the Angli are grouped with the Varini, not only as neighbouring nations on the east coast of Schleswig, but in the matter of laws under their later names, Angles and Warings. Similarly, we read of Goths and Vandals, of Frisians and Chaucians, of Goths and Burgundians, of Engles and Swæfas, of Franks and Batavians, of Wends and Saxons, of Frisians and Hunsings; and as we read of a Frank confederation, there was practically a Saxon one. In later centuries, under the general name of Danes, we are told by Henry of Huntingdon of Danes and Goths, Norwegians and Swedes, Vandals and Frisians, as the names of those people who desolated England for 230 years. The later Saxon confederation is that which was opposed to Charlemagne but there was certainly an earlier alliance, or there were common expeditions of Saxons and people of other tribes acting together in the invasion of England under the Saxon name.
In view of a supposed Saxon alliance during the invasion and settlement of England, the question arises, with which nations the Saxon people who took part in the attacks on Britain could have formed a confederacy. Northward, their territory joined that of the Angles; on the north and west it touched that of the Frisians, and on the east the country of the Wendish people known as the Wilte or Wilzi. Not far from them on the west the German tribe known as the Boructarii were located, and these are the people from whom Bede tells us that some of the English in his time were known to have been derived.
During the folk-wanderings some of the Suevi migrated to Swabia, in South Germany, and these people, called by the Scandian nations the Swæfas, were practically of the same race as the Saxons, and their name is sometimes used for Saxon. The Angarians, or Men of Engern, also were a tribe of the Old Saxons. Later on, we find the name Ostphalia used for the Saxon country lying east of Engern, now called Hanover, and Westphalia for the country lying west of this district. Among the Saxons there were tribal divisions or clans, such as that of the people known as the Ymbre, or Ambrones, and the pagus of the Bucki among the Engern people.
This pagus of the Old Saxons has probably left its name not only in that of Buccingaham, now Buckingham, but also in other English counties. In Norfolk we find the Anglo-Saxon names Buchestuna, Buckenham. and others. In Northampton the Domesday names Buchebi, Buchenho, Buchestone, and others, occur. In Huntingdonshire, similarly,we find Buchesunorth, Buchesworth, and Buchelone; in Yorkshire Bucktorp, in Nottinghamshire Buchetone, in Devon Buchesworth and Bucheside, all apparently named after settlers called Buche. If a settler was of the Bucki tribe, it is easy to see how he could be known to his neighbours by this name.
The Buccinobantes, mentioned by Ammianus, were a German tribe, from which settlers were introduced into Britain as Roman colonists before the end of Roman rule in Britain. The results of research render it more and more probable that Teutonic people under the Saxon name were gradually gaining a footing in the island before the period at which the chief invasions are said to have commenced. In the intestine wars that went on in the fifth century the presence of people of Teutonic descent among the Britons might naturally have led to Teutonic allies having been called in, or to have facilitated their conquests.
Ptolemy is the first writer who mentions the Saxons, and he states that they occupied the country which is now Holstein; but between his time and the invasion of Britain they probably shifted more to the south-west. to the region of Hanover and Westphalia, some probably remaining on the north bank of the Elbe. He tells us of a people called the Pharadini, a name resembling Varini or Warings, allies of the Angles, who lay next to the Saxons. He mentions also the three islands of the Saxons, which are probably those known now as the North Frisian Islands, north of the coast where the Saxons he mentioned are said to have lived. This is the country that within historic time has been, and still is in part, occupied by the North Frisians. The origin of the name Saxon has been a puzzle to philologists, and Latham has summed up the evidence in favour of its being a native name as indecisive. There was certainly a god known in Teutonic mythology as Saxnote or Saxneat, but whether the name Saxon was derived from the god, or the god derived his name from the people who reverenced him, is uncertain. We find this Saxnote mentioned in the pedigree of the early Kings of Essex. Thunar, Woden, and Saxnote are also mentioned as the gods whom the early Christians in Germany had to declare publicly that they would forsake, and the identity of Saxnote with Tiu, Tius, or Tyr, is apparent from this as well as from other evidence.
During the Roman period a large number of Germans, fleeing from the southeast, arrived in the plains of Belgium, and the names Flamand, Flemish, and Flanders were derived from these refugees, who in some accounts are described as Saxons, and the coast they occupied as the well-known litus Saxonicum, or Saxon shore. This is an important consideration in reference to the subsequent settlement of England, for it shows that there were people called Saxons before the actual invasion occurred, located on a coast much nearer to this country than that along the Elbe. In the time of Charlemagne the lower course of the Elbe divided the Saxons into two chief branches, and those to the north of it were called Nordalbingians, or people north of the Elbe, which is the position where the Saxons of Ptolemy’s time are said to have been located. One of the neighbouring races to the Saxons in the first half of the sixth century in North Germany was the Longobards or Lombards. Their great migration to the south under their King Alboin, and their subsequent invasion of Italy, occurred about the middle of the sixth century. This was about the time when the Saxons were defeated with great slaughter near the Weser. by Hlothaire, King of the Franks. Some of the survivors are said to have accompanied the Lombards, and others in all probability helped to swell the number of emigrants into England. It is probable that after this time they became more or less scattered to the south and across the sea, and in Germany the modem name Saxony along the upper course of the Elbe is a surviving name of a larger Saxony. The Germans have an ancient proverb which is still in use: ‘There are Saxons wherever pretty girls grow out of trees’—perhaps a reference to the fair complexion of the old Saxon race, and to its wide dispersion.
The circumstance that the maritime inhabitants of the German coasts were known as Saxons before the fall of the Roman Empire shows that the name was applied to a seafaring people, and under it at that time the early Frislans were probably included, The later information we obtain concerning the identity of the wergelds, or payments for injuries, that prevailed among both of these nations supports this view. The Saxon as well as the Frisian wergeld to be paid to the kindred in the case of a man being killed was 160 solidi, or shillings.
There are two sources, so far as our own island is concerned, whence we may derive historical information concerning the conquest and settlement of Eng1and—viz., from the earliest English writers and from the earliest Welsh writers. Bede is the earliest author of English birth, and Nennius, to whom the ‘Historia Britonum’ is ascribed, is the earliest Welsh author. The veracity of the ‘Historia Britonum’ is not seriously doubted—at least, the book under that name of which Nennius is the reputed author. Its date is probably about the middle of the eighth century, and we have no reason to suppose that the learning to be found at that time in the English monasteries was superior to that in the Welsh. Nennius lived in the same century as Bede. but wrote about half a century later. His information is of value as pointing to a large number of German tribes under the general name of Saxons, rather than people of one nationality only, having taken part in the invasion and settlement of England. Nennius tells us of the struggles which went on between the Britons and the invaders. He says: ‘The more the Saxons were vanquished, the more they sought for new supplies of Saxons from Germany, so that Kings, commanders, and military bands were invited over from almost every province. And this practice they continued till the reign of Inda, who was the son of Eoppa; he of the Saxon race was the first King in Bernicia, and in Cær Ebranc (York).’
In reference to Cæsar’s account of German tribes, it is significant that he mentions a tribe or nation called the Cherusci as the head of a great confederation. It is of interest to note also that, as long as we find the name Cherusci used, Saxons are not mentioned, but as soon as the Cherusci disappear by name the Saxons appear, and these in a later time also formed a great confederacy. The name Gewissas, which was that by which the West Saxons were known, included Jutes—i.e.., in all probability, Goths, Frisians, Wends, and possibly people of other tribes, as well as those from the Saxon fatherland.
The Saxons of England were converted to Christianity before those of the Continent, and we derive some indirect information of the racial affinities between these peoples from the accounts of the early missionary zeal of priests from England among the old Saxons. Two of these, who are said to have been Anglians, went into Saxony to convert the people, and were murdered there; but in after-centuries their names were held in high reverence, and are still honoured in Westphalia. We can scarcely think that they would have set forth on such a missionary expedition unless their dialect or language had so much in common as to enable them as Anglians from England to make themselves easily understood to these old Saxons.
The question who were the true Saxons—i.e., the Saxons specifically so called in Germany—has been much discussed. The name may not have been a native one, but have been fixed on them by others, in which case, as Beddoe says, it is easier to believe that the Frisians were often included under it. They may have been, and probably were, a great martial and aggressive tribe, which spread from the country along the Elbe over the country of the Weser, after conquering its previous inhabitants, the Boructarii, or Bructers. Such a migration best accounts for the later appearance of Saxons in the region which the Old English called Old Saxony, and erroneously looked upon as their old home, because their kindred had come to occupy it since their separation. The Saxonia of the ninth century included Hanover, Westphalia, and Holstein, as opposed to Friesland, Schleswig. the Middle Rhine provinces, and the parts east of the Elbe, which were Frisian, Danish, Frank, and Slavonic respectively. Among the Saxons of the country north of the Elbe were the people of Stormaria, whose name survived in that of the river Stoer, a boundary of it, and perhaps also in one or more of the rivers Stour, where some of the Stormarii settled in England.
William of Malmesbury, who wrote early in the twelfth century, tells us that the ancient country called Germany was divided into many provinces, and took its name from germinating so many men. This may be a fanciful derivation, but he goes on to say that, ‘as the pruner cuts off the more luxuriant branches of the tree to impart a livelier vigour to the remainder, so the inhabitants of this country assist their common parent by the expulsion of a part of their members, lest she should perish by giving sustenance to too numerous an offspring; but in order to obviate the discontent, they cast lots who shall be compelled to migrate. Hence the men of this country made a virtue of necessity, and when driven from their native soil have gained foreign settlements by force of arms’ He gives as instances of this the Vandals, Goths, Lombards. and Normans. There is other evidence of the prevalence of this custom. The story of Hengist and Horsa is one of the same kind, The custom appears to have been common to many different nations or tribes in the northern parts of Europe, and points, consequently, to the pressure of an increasing population and to diversity of origin among the settlers known as Saxons, Angles, and Jutes in England.
The invasions of England at different periods between the fifth and tenth centuries, and the settlement of the country as it was until the end of the Anglo-Saxon period, were invasions and settlements of different tribes. It is necessary to emphasize this. Bede’s list of nations, among others, from whom the Anglo-Saxon people in his day were known to have descended is considerably longer and more varied than that of Jutes, Saxons, and Angles. During the centuries that followed his time people of other races found new homes here, some by conquest, as in the case of Norse and Danes, and others by peaceful means, as in the time of King Alfred, when, as Asser tells us, Franks, Frisians, Gauls, Pagans, Britons, Scots, and Armoricans placed themselves under his government. As Alfred made no Continental conquests, the Franks, Gauls, and Frisians must have become peaceful settlers in England, and as the only pagans in his time in Europe were the northern nations—Danes, Norse, Swedes, and Wends—some of these must also have peacefully settled in his country, as we know that Danes and Norse did largely during this as well as a later period. Men of many different races must have been among the ancestors of both the earlier and later Anglo-Saxon people.
In the eighth and ninth centuries three kingdoms in England bore the Saxon name, as mentioned by Bede and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle—viz., Essex, Sussex, and Wessex—and one province, Middlesex. As will be seen when considering the evidence relating to the settlers in various parts of England, it does not follow that these several parts of our country which were called after the Saxon name were colonized by people known as Saxons in Germany. The customs that prevailed in these parts of England were different in many localities. The relics of the Anglo-Saxon period that have been discovered in these districts present also some distinctive features. It is certain from the customs that prevailed, some of which have survived, from the remains found, from the old place-names, and from the variations in the shape of the skulls discovered, that the people of the Saxon kingdoms of England could not have been people of one race. The anthropological evidence which has been collected by Beddoe and others confirms this, for the skulls taken from Saxon cemeteries in England exhibit differences in the shape of the head which could not have resulted from accidental variations in the head-form of people all of one uniform race or descent. The typical Saxon skull was dolichocephalic, or long, the breadth not exceeding four-fifths of the length, like those of all the nations of the Gothic stock. Goths, Norwegians, Swedes, Danes, Angles, and Saxons among the ancient nations all had this general head-form, as shown by the remains of these several races which have been found, and from the head-form of the modern nations descended from them; but among these long-headed people there were some with variations in the skull and a few with broad skulls.
The Saxons must have been nearly allied to some of the Angles. This is shown by the probability that the so-called Saxons are located by Ptolemy in the country north of the Elbe, which by other early writers is assigned mainly to the Angles. His references to the tribe or nation known as the Suevi point to the same conclusion, the Suevi-Angli mentioned by him being apparently another name for the people of the country which, according to others, was occupied by Saxons, and these Suevi or Suabi are mentioned as at Saxon pagus in early German records. The Scandian peninsula, so remarkable for early emigration, was probably the original home at some very remote period of the ancestors of the nations known in later centuries as Saxons, Suevi, and Angles. The racial characters of all the Teutonic tribes of North Germany, as of their modern representatives, were fair hair and eyes. and heads of the dolichocephalic shape. These characters differentiated the northern tribes of Germany from the more ancient occupants of Central Europe, as at the present time they distinguish them from the darker-haired South Germans of Bavaria and Austria, who have broader skulls than those of the north. The skulls which are found in ancient burial-places in Germany of the same age as the Anglo-Saxon period are of two main types—viz., the dolichocephalic or long, and the brachycephalic or broad. In the old burial-places at Bremen, from which 103 examples were obtained, only 5 typical broad skulls were found, against 72 typical long skulls and 26 which were classed by Gildemeister as intermediate in form. These 26 he regarded as Frisian, and gave them the name Batavian. In the South of Germany graves of the same age yield a majority of broad skulls, which closely correspond to those of the peasantry of the present time in the same parts of the country. From this it may be inferred that during the period of the English settlement people with long skulls were in a great majority in North Germany, and people with broad skulls in a majority in the southern parts of that country, certainly in these districts south of Thuringia. Bede tells us that the people of England were descended from many tribes, and Nennius says that Saxons came into England from almost every province in Germany. Unless we are to entirely discredit such statements, the probability that some of the settlers whom Nennius calls Saxons may have been broad-headed is great. That various tribal people under the Saxon name took part in the invasion and settlement of England is probable from many circumstances, and, among others, the minor variations in the skulls found in Anglo-Saxon graves corresponding to the minor variations found to exist also among the skulls discovered at Bremen. Of these latter Beddoe says: ‘There are small differences which may have been tribal.’ The same author remarks also of these Bremen skulls, that there are differences in the degree of development of the superciliary ridges which may have been more tribal than individual.
Of 100 skulls of the Anglo—Saxon period actually found in England, and whose dimensions were tabulated by Beddoe, the following variations were found, the percentage of the breadth in comparison with the length being expressed by the indices:
From this table it can be seen that 8 of the 100 have a breadth very nearly or quite equal to four-fifths of their 1ength—i.e., they are the remains of people of a different race from the typical Anglo-Saxon.
The typical Saxon skull is believed to have been similar to that known as the ‘grave-row’ skull on the Continent, from the manner in which the bones were found laid in rows. Thcse occur numerously in Saxon burial-places in the Old Saxon and Frisian country, their mean index being about 75—i.e., they are long skulls.
The variation in the skulls from Anglo-Saxon graves in England, as will be seen from the table, is very considerable, but the majority have an index from 73 to 78–i.e., they resemble in this respect those commonly found in the old burial—places of North Germany. The variations have been attributed by some writers to the racial mixture of Saxons with the conquered Britons. Since, however, similar variations are seen in skulls obtained from the graves at Bremen and other parts of North Germany, it is probable that the so-called Saxons were not a people of a homogeneous race, but comprised tribal people who had variations in head-form, a small percentage being even broad-headed. The migration of such people into England among other Saxons would explain the variations found in the Anglo-Saxon head-form, and, moreover, help us to explain variations in custom that are known to have existed within the so-called Saxon kingdoms of England.
RUGIANS, WENDS, AND TRIBAL SLAVONIC SETTLERS
The name Wends was given by the old Teutonic nations of Germany to those Slavonic tribes who were located in the countries east of the Elbe and south of the Baltic Sea. It is the same as the older name used by Ptolemy, who says that ‘the Wenedæ are established along the whole of the Wendish Gulf.’ Tacitus also mentions the Venedi. There can, therefore, be no doubt that these people were seated on the coast of Mecklenburg and Pomerania before the time of the Anglo-Saxon settlement. That there were some differences in race between the Wends of various tribes is probable from the existence of such large tribes among them as the Wiltzi and Obodriti, who in the time of Charlemagne formed opposite alliances, the former with the Saxons, the latter with the Franks. The Wends who still exist in Lower Saxony are of a dark complexion, and are of the same stock as the Sorbs or Serbs of Servia. They are Slavonic, but many tribes of Slavonic descent are fair in complexion. Procopius tells us that those Vandals who were allies of the ancient Goths were remarkable for their tall stature, pale complexion, and blonde hair. It is therefore by no means improbable that the ancient Slavic tribes of the Baltic coast were distinguished by differences in complexion.
As the identification of Vandal or Wendish settlers with various parts of England is new, or almost so, it will be desirable to state the evidence of their connection with the origin of the Anglo-Saxon race more fully than would otherwise have been necessary.
The Vandals are commonly thought to have been a nation of Teutonic descent like the Goths, but there is certain evidence that the later Vandals or Wends were Slavonic, and there is no reason to doubt that these later Vandals were descended from some of the earlier. Tacitus mentions the Vandals as a group of German nations, the name being used in a wide sense, as British is at the present time. The most important reason for considering the early Vandals to be Teutonic is that the names of their leaders are almost exclusively Teutonic, as Gonderic, Genseric, etc. This reason would be valid if there were nothing else to set against it. Leaders of a more advanced race, however, have led the forces of less advanced allies in all ages, and the Goths were a more advanced race than the Vandals, whom they conquered, and who subsequently became their firm allies. Among the collection of Anglo-Saxon relics in the British Museum axe a number of Vandal ornaments from North Africa, placed there for comparison with those of the Anglo-Saxon period. These are apparently rough imitations of those of the same age found in Scandinavia and in England—i.e., imitations of Gothic work.
Of all the people in ancient Germania east of the Elbe whom Tacitus mentions as Germans, not a single Teutonic vestige remained in the time of Charlemagne. Poland and Silicia were parts of his Germania. When the Germans of Charlemagne and his successors conquered the country east of the Elbe there was neither trace nor record of any earlier Teutonic occupation. Such a previous occupancy rarely occurs, as Latham has pointed out, without leaving some traces of its existence by the survival here and there of descendants of the older occupants. In Germany, east of the Elbe, no earlier inhabitants than the Slavonic have been discovered, excepting those of a very remote prehistoric age. At the dawn of German history no traces are met with of enthralled people of Teutonic descent among the Slavs east of the Elbe, and there are no traditions of such earlier occupants, while the oldest place-names are all Slavonic. If there were Germans, strictly so-called, east of the river in the time of Tacitus—i.e., long-headed tribes—their assumed displacement by the Slavs between his time and that of Charlemagne would have been the greatest and most complete of any recorded in history Ethnology and history, therefore, alike point to people of Sarmatian or Slavic descent—i.e., brachycephalic tribes—as the earliest inhabitants of Eastern Germany, and indicate some misunderstanding in this respect by the commentators of Tacitus. In Eastern Germany place-names survive ending in -itz, so very common in Saxony; in -zig, as Leipzig; in -a, as Jena; and in -dam, as Potsdam. All these places were named by the Slavs.
The statement of Bede that the Rugini or Rugians were among the nations from whom the English were known to have descended was contemporary evidence of his own time. The Rugi are also mentioned by Tacitus. Their name apparently remains to this day in that of Rügen Island, situated off the coast which they occupied in the time of the Roman Empire.
As Ptolemy tells us of the wenedæ seated on this same Baltic coast, and as they were Sarmatians or Slavs, it is clear that the Rugians must have been of that race. Some of the nations mentioned by Tacitus were, he says, of non-Germanic origin. Rügen Island was the chief place of worship for the Wendish race, the chief centre of their religion. On the east side of the peninsula of Jasmund in Rügen are the white chalk cliffs of Stubbenkammer, and on the north side of the island is the promontory of Arcona, where in the twelfth century we read of the idol Svantovit, and the temple of this Wendish god. No traces of Teutonic worship have ever been found in Rügen. They are all Slavonic. Saxo tells us at the worship of Svantovit at Arcana with the tributes brought there from all Slavonia.
The probability of some very early settlers in Britain having been Wends, and consequently that there was a Slavic element in the origin of the Old English race, is shown in another way. The settlement of large bodies of Vandals in Britain by order of the Emperor Probus is a fact recorded in Roman history. The authority is Zosimus, and this settlement is said to have taken place in the latter part of the third century of our era, after a great defeat of Vandals near the Lower Rhine. They were accompanied by a horde of Burgundians, and as they were apparently on the march in search of new homes, it probably suited them as well as it suited the Romans to be transported to Britain. Unless it can be shown that the Vandal name is to be understood to mean only certain tribes of Teutonic origin, this arbitrary settlement of Vandals in Britain is the earliest record of immigrants of Slavic origin. It is not possible to ascertain the parts of the country in which they settled, but as they were known to Roman writers by the names Vinidæ and Venedi, it is possible that the Roman place-names in Britain—Vindogladia in Dorset, Vindomis in Hampshire, and others—may have been connected with their settlements. It is possible also that during the time between their arrival and that of the earliest Anglo-Saxon settlers some of their descendants may have maintained their race distinctions apart from the British people, as descendants of some of the Roman colonists apparently did in Kent.
The defeat of the Vandals by Probus near the Rhine occurred in A.D. 277, so that their settlement in Britain was not more than two centuries before the arrival of the Jutes and Saxons. As it is probable there were some so-called Saxons already settled on the eastern coast of England, with whom those of a later date coalesced, it is not impossible that some of the Vandal settlers in Britain in the time of Probus may have preserved their distinction in race until the invasion of the Saxons, Angles, and Jutes began.
The names in the Anglo-Saxon charters which apparently marked settlements of Rugians in England are Ruanbergh and Ruwanbeorg, Dorset; Ruganbeorh and Ruwanbeorg, Somerset; Ruwanbeorg and Rugan dic, Wilts; Rugebeorge, in Kent; and Ruwangoringu, Hants. These will be referred to in later chapters.
The chief Old English names which appear to refer to them in Domesday Book are Ruenore in Hampshire, Ruenhala and Ruenhale in Essex, Rugehala and Rugelie in Staffordshire, Rugutune in Norfolk, and Rugarthorp in Yorkshire. Close to Ruenore, in Hampshire, is Stubbington, which may have been an imported name, as it resembles that of Stubnitz in the Isle of Rügen.
In its historical aspect the Anglo-Saxon settlement may be regarded as part of that wider migration of nations and tribes from Eastern and Northern Europe into the provinces of the Roman Empire during its decadence. In its ethnological aspect it may be regarded as a final stage in the westward European migration of people of the Germanic stock. As the history and ethnology of the Franks in Western Germany afford us a notable example of the fusion of people of the Celtic with others of the Teutonic race, so the history and ethnology of Eastern Germany afford an equally striking example of the fusion of people of Teutonic and Slavonic origins. It began at a very early period in our era, and the present irregular ethnological frontier between Germans and Slavs shows that it is still slowly going on. The eastward migration of Germans in later centuries has absorbed the Wends. The descendants of the isolated Slavonic settlers near Utrecht and in other parts of the Rhine Valley have also long been absorbed. The ethnological evidence concerning the present inhabitants of these districts and the survival of some of their old place-names, however, supports the statement of the early chroniclers concerning the immigration of Slavs into what is now Holland.
The part which the ancient Wends, including Rugians, Wilte, and other Slavonic people, took in the settlement of England was, in comparison with that of the Teutonic nations and tribes, small, but yet so considerable that it has left its results. During the period of the invasion and the longer period of the settlement, the southern coasts of the Baltic Sea were certainly occupied by Slavonic people. Ptolemy, writing, as he did, about the middle of the second century of our era, mentions the Baltic by the name Venedic Gulf, and the people on its shores as Venedi or Wenedæ. He describes them as one of the great nations of Sarmatia. the most ancient name of the countries occupied by Slavs, but which was replaced by that of Slavonia. Pliny, in his notice of the Baltic Sea, has the following passage: ‘People say that from this point round to the Vistula the whole country is inhabited by Sarmatians and Wends.’ Although he did not write from personal knowledge of the Wends, this passage is weighty evidence that they must have been located on the Baltic in his time.
During the time of the Anglo-Saxon period the Slavs in the North of Europe extended as far westward as the Elbe and to places beyond it. On the east bank of that river were the Polabian Wends, and these were apparently a branch of the Wilte or Wiltzi. This name Wiltzi has been derived from the old Slavic word for wolf, wilk, plural wiltzi, and was given to this great tribe from their ferocious courage. The popular name Wolfmark still survives in North-East Germany, near the eastern limit of their territory. These people called themselves Welatibi, a name derived from welot, a giant, and were also known as the Hæfeldan, or Men of Havel, from being seated near the river Havel, as mentioned by King Alfred. The inhabitants of the coast near Stralsund, who were called Rugini or Rugians, and who are mentioned by Bede as one of the nations from whom the Anglo-Saxons of his time were known to have derived their origin, must have been included within the general name of the Wends. As these Rugians must have been Wends, the statement of Bede is direct evidence that some of the people of England in his time were known to be of Wendish descent. This is supported by evidence of other kinds, such as the mention of settlements of people with Wendish or Vandal names in the Anglo-Saxon charters, the numerous names of places in England which have come down from a remote antiquity, and the identity of the oldest forms of such names with that of the people of this race. We read also that Edward, son of Edmund Ironside, fled after his father’s death ‘ad regnum Rugorum, quod melius vocamus Russiam.’ It is also supported by philological evidence. As a distinguished American philologist says: ‘The Anglo-Saxon was such a language as might be supposed would result from a fusion of Old Saxon with smaller proportions of High German, Scandinavian, and even Celtic and Slavonic elements.’ The migration of the Wilte from the shores of the Baltic and the foundation of a colony in the country around Utrecht is certainly historical. Bede mentions it in connection with the mission of Wilbrord. He says: ‘The Venerable Wilbrord went from Frisia to Rome, where the Pope gave him the name of Clement, and sent him back to his bishopric. Pepin gave him a place for his episcopal see in his famous castle, which, in the ancient language of those people, is called Wiltaburg—i.e., the town of the Wilti—but in the French tongue Utrecht.’ Venantius also tells us that the Wileti or Wiltzi, between A.D. 560-600, settled near the city of Utrecht, which from them was called Wiltaburg, and the surrounding country Wiltenia. Such a migration would perhaps be made by land, and some of these Wilte may have gone further. The name of the first settlers in Wiltshire has been derived by some authors from a migration of Wilte from near Wiltaburg, and the name Wilsætan appears to afford some corroboration. It is certain that Wiltshire was becoming settled in the latter half of the sixth century, and such a migration may either have come direct from the Baltic or the Elbe, or from the Wilte settlement in Holland.
It must not be supposed that there is evidence of the settlement of all Wiltshire by people descended from the Wilte, but it is not improbable that some early settlers of this time were the original Wilsætas. The Anglo-Saxon charters supply evidence of the existence in various parts of England, as will be referred to in later pages, of people called Willa or Wilte. There were tribes in England named East Willa and West Willa; and such Anglo-Saxon names as Willanesham; Wilburgeham, Cambridgeshire; Wilburge gcmæro and Wilburge mere in Wiltshire; Wilburgewel in Kent; Willa-byg in Lincolnshire; Wilmanford, Wilmanleáhtun, appear to have been derived from personal names connected with these people. I have not been able to discover that any other Continental tribe of the Anglo-Saxon period were so named, except this Wendish tribe, called by King Alfred the men of Havel, a name that apparently survived in the Domesday name Hauelingas in Essex. The Wilte or Willa, tribal name survived in England as a personal name, like the national name Scot, and is found in the thirteenth-century Hundred Rolls and other early records. In these rolls a large number of persons so named are mentioned—Wiltes occurs in seventeen entries, Wilt in eight, and Wilte in four entries. Willeman as a personal name is also mentioned. The old Scando-Gothic personal name Wilia is well known.
The great Wendish tribe which occupied the country next to that of the Danes along the west coast of the Baltic in the ninth century was the Obodriti, known also as the Bodritzer. From their proximity there arose an early connection between them and the Danes, or Northmen. In the middle of the ninth century we read of a place on the boundaries of the Northmen and Obodrites, ‘in confinibus Nordmannorum et Obodritorum.’ The probability of Wendish people of this tribe having settled in England among the Danes arises from their near proximity on the Baltic, their political connection in the time of Sweyn and Cnut, historical references to Obodrites in the service of Cnut in England, and the similarity of certain place-names in some parts of England colonized by Danes to others on the Continent of known Wendish or Slavonic origin. Obodriti is a Slavic name, and, according to Schafarik, the Slavic ethnologist, the name may be compared with Bodrica in the government of Witepsk, Bodrok, and the provincial name Bodrog in Southern Hungary, and others of a similar kind. In the Danish settled districts of England we find the Anglo-Saxon names Bodeskesham, Cambridgeshire; Bodesham, now Bosham, Sussex; Boddingc-weg, Dorset; the Domesday names Bodebi, Lincolnshire; Bodetone and Bodele, Yorkshire; Bodehā, Herefordshire; Bodeslege, Somerset; Bodeshā, Kent; and others, which may have been named after people of this tribe.
The map of Europe at the present day exhibits evidence of the ancient migration of the Slavs. The Slavs in the country from Trient to Venice were known as Wendi, and hence the name Venice or the Wendian territory. Bohemia and Poland after the seventh century became organized States of Slavs on the upper parts of the Elbe and the Vistula. The Slavonic tribes on the frontier or march-land of Moravia formed the kingdom of Moravia in the ninth century. Other scattered tribes of Slavs formed the kingdom of Bulgaria about the end of the seventh century; and westward of these, other tribes organized themselves into the kingdoms of Croatia, Dalmatia, and Servia. In the North the ancient Slav tribes of Pomerania, Mecklenburg, Brandenburg, and those located on the banks of the Elbe, comprising the Polabians, the Obodrites, the Wiltzi, those known at one time as Rugini, the Lutitzes, and the Northern Sorabians or Serbs, became gradually absorbed among the Germans, who formed new States eastward of their ancient limits. These have long since become Teutonised, and their language has disappeared, but the Slavonic place-names still remain.
What concerns us specially in connection with the settlement of England and the Vandals is that these people were Slavs, not Teutons or Germans, as is sometimes stated. They are fully recognised as Slavs by the historian of the Gothic race, who tells us that Slavs differ from Vandals in name only. It is important, also, to note that the Rugians mentioned by Bede were a Wendish tribe. Westward of the Elbe the Slavic Sorabians had certainly pushed their way, before they were finally checked by Charlemagne and his successors. The German annals of the date A.D. 782 tell us that the Sorabians at that time were seated between the Elbe and the Saale, where place-names of Slavonic origin remain to this day.
Those Wends who were located on the Lower Elbe, near Lüneburg and Hamburg, were known as Polabians, through having been seated on or near this river, from po, meaning ‘on,’ and laba, the Slavic name for the Elbe.
The eastern comer of the former kingdom of Hanover, and especially that in the circuit of Lüchow, which even to the present day is called Wendland, was a district west of the Elbe, where the Wends formed a colony, and where the Polabian variety of the Wendish language survived the longest. It did not disappear until about 1700-1725, during the latter part of which period the ruler of this ancient Wendland was also King of England.
During the later Saxon period in England the Wends of the Baltic coast had their chief seaport at Julin or Jomberg, close to the island called Wollin, in the delta of the Oder. Julin is mentioned by Adam of Bremen as the largest and most flourishing commercial city in Europe in the eleventh century, but it was destroyed in 1176 by Valdemar, King of Denmark, Its greatest rival was the Northern Gothic port of Wisby in the Isle of Gotland. Whether Jomberg surpassed Wisby as a commercial centre, which, notwithstanding the statement of Adam of Bremen, is doubtful, it is certain that these two ports were the chief ports respectively of the Wends and the Goths of the Baltic. Both of them, even during the Saxon period, had commercial relations with this country, or maritime connection of some sort, as shown by the number of Anglo-Saxon coins and ornaments with Anglian runes on them found either in Gotland or Pomerania.
The connection of the Slav tribes of ancient Germany with the settlement of England is supported also by the survival in England of ancient customs which were widely spread in Slavonic countries, by the evidence of folk-lore, traces of Slav influence in the Anglo-Saxon language, and by some old place-names in England, especially those which point to Wends generally, and others referring to Rugians and to Wilte. The great wave of early Slavonic migration was arrested in Eastern Germany, but lesser waves derived from it were continued westward, as shown by the isolated Slav colonies of ancient origin in Oldenburg, Hanover, and Holland. The same migratory movement in a lesser degree appears to have extended even into England, bringing into our country some Slavonic settlers, probably in alliance with Saxons, Angles, Goths, and other tribes, and some later on in alliance with Danes. The existence of separate large tribes among the Wends is probable evidence of racial differences, and the alternative names they had are probably those by which they were known to themselves and to their neighbours. The remnant at the present time of the dark-complexioned Wends of Saxony, who called themselves Sorbs, shows that there must have been some old Wendish tribe of similar complexion, from which they are descended. As the country anciently occupied by the Wiltzi included Brandenburg and the district around Berlin, it joined the limits of ancient Saxony on the west. There is evidence, arising from the survival of place-names in and near the old Wendish country, to show that these Wilte have left distinct traces of their existence in North-East Germany—for example, Wiltschau, Wilschkowitz, and Wiltsch are places in Silesia; Wilze is a place near Posen; Wilsen in Mecklenburg-Schwerin; Wilsdorf nenr Dresden; Wilzken in East Prussia; and Wilsum in Hanover. Similarly, names of the same kind which can be traced back to Saxon time survive in England. If the existence of these Wilte place-names in the old Wendish country of Gennany is confirmatory evidence of the former existence in that part of Europe of a nation or tribe known as the Wiltzi or Wilte, the existence of similar names in England, dating from the Anglo-Saxon period, cannot be other than probable evidence of the settlement in England of some of these people, for no other tribe is known to have existed at that time which had a similar name. This tribal name has also survived in other countries, such as Holland, in which the Wilte formed colonies. The Polebian Wends or Wilte were located on the right bank of the Elbe, where some ships for the Saxon invasion must have been fitted out. There were Saxons on the left bank and Wilte on the right. At a later period they were in close alliance, and unless there had been peace between them, it is not likely that a Saxon expedition to England would have been organized.
Under these circumstances, if we had no evidence of Wilte or other Wends in England, it would be very difficult indeed to believe that some of them did not come among the Saxons. The general name of the Wends survives in many place-names in the old Wendish parts of Germany, such as Wendelau, Wendemark, Wendewisch, Wendhagen, and Wendorf.
It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the old Slavonic tribes not only comprised people of different tribal names, but of different ethnological characters, seeing that at the present time there are dark-complexioned Slavs and others as fair as Scandinavians. No record of the physical characters of the ancient Wends appears to have survived, but observations on the remnant of the race, who call themselves Sorbs, in Lower Saxony have been made by Beddoe. The Wendish peasants examined by him and recorded in his tables showed the highest index of nigrescence of any observed by him in Germany. These observations have been confirmed by the results of the official ethnological survey of that country.
The coast of the Baltic Sea as far east as the mouth of the Vistula, and beyond it, is remarkable for having been what may be called the birthplace of nations. Goths were seated east of the Vistula before the fall of the Roman Empire. and Vandals appear to have occupied a great area of country around the sources of the Vistula and the Oder. In the middle of the fifth century the Burgundians were seated in large numbers between the middle courses of these rivers, while the Slavic tribes known as Rugians were located on the Baltic coast on both sides of the Oder. The name Rugini or Rugians thus appears, at one time, to have been a comprehensive one, and to have included the tribes known later on as Wiltzi.
In the Sagas of the Norse Kings, Vindland is the name of the country of the Wends from Holstein to the east of Prussia, and as early as the middle of the tenth century we read of both Danish and Vindish Vikings as subjects of, or in the service of, Hakon, King of Denmark. In this century the Wends were sometimes allies and sometimes enemies of the Danes and Norse. There is a reference to interpreters of the Wendish tongue in the Norse Sagas. The Wends were sea-rovers, like their neighbours, and comprised the largest section of the ancient association or alliance known as the Jomberg Vikings. An alliance was made between the Danes and the Wends by the marriage of Sweyn, King of Denmark, to Gunhild, daughter of Borislav, a King of the Wends. Cnut, King of England and Denmark, was actually King of ancient Wendland, and the force of huscarls he formed in England was partly composed of Jomberg sea-rovers who had been banished from their own country. The evidence of Wendish settlers with the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes in England rests, as far as the Rugians are concerned, on Bede’s statement, and generally on the survival of customs, place-names, and folk-lore. It is certain that large colonies of Vandals were settled in Britain before the end of the Roman occupation, and some of them may have retained their race characters until the time of the Saxon settlement. It is certain, also, that there was an immigration in the time of Cnut. The evidence of a Wendish influence in the English race, arising from these successive settlements, extending from the Roman time to the later Anglo-Saxon period, cannot, therefore, be disregarded.
The Anglo-Saxon charters tell us of Wendlesbiri in Hertfordshire, Wendlescliff in Worcestershire, Wændlescumb in Berkshire, and Wendlesore, now Windsor—all apparently named from settlers called Wendel, after the name of their race.
In such Old English place-names the tribal name lingers yet, as similar names linger in North-East Germany; and in the names Wilts, Willi, Rugen, Rown, or Ruwan, and others, we may still, in all probability, trace the Wilte and Rugians—Wendic tribes of the Saxon age. In the old Germanic records the Rugians are mentioned under similar names to those found in the Anglo—Saxon charters, Ruani and Rugiani.
Some manorial customs, and especially that of sole inheritance by the youngest son, may be traced with more certainty to the old Slavic nations of Europe than to the Teutonic. Inheritance by the youngest son, or junior preference, was a custom so prevalent among the Slavs that there can be little doubt it must have been almost or quite the common custom of the race. The ancient right of the youngest survives here and there in parts of Germany—in parts of Bavaria, for example—but in no Teutonic country is the evidence to be found in ancient customs or in old records of the identification of this custom with the Teutonic race as it may be identified with the Slavic. In the old Wendish country around Lubeck the custom of inheritance by the youngest son long survived, or still does, and Lubeck was the city in which during the later Saxon age in England the commerce of the Wends began to be concentrated.
There is evidence of another kind showing the connection of Wends with Danes or Northmen. At Sondevissing, in Tyrsting herrad, in the district of Scanderborg, there is a stone monument with a runic inscription stating that ‘Tuva caused this barrow to be constructed. She was a daughter of Mistivi. She made it to her mother, who was the wife of Harald the Good, son of Gorm.’ The inscription has been assigned to the end of the tenth century, and Worsaae says: ‘We know that there existed at this period a Wendish Prince named Mistivi, who in the year 986 destroyed Hamburg, possibly the same as in the inscription.’ This refers to a generation earlier than that of Cnut, to the time of Sweyn, who married the daughter of Borislav, King of the Wends. During the period of Danish rule in England there are several historical references to the connection of the Wends with England. In 1029, Eric, son of Hakon, was banished by Cnut. Hakon was doubly the King’s nephew, being the son of his sister and the husband of his niece Gunhild, the daughter of another sister and of Wyrtgeorn, King of the Wends. There was at this time an eminent Slavonic Prince who was closely connected with Cnut, and spent some time with him in England—viz., Godescalc, son of Uto, the Wendish Prince of the Obodrites, whose exploits are recorded in old Slavonic history. The Obodrites were the Wendish people whose warlike deeds are still commemorated at Schwerin. Godescalc waged war against the Saxons of Holstein and Stormaria, but was taken prisoner. After his release he entered the service of Cnut, probably as an officer of the huscarls, and later on he married the King’s daughter.
There is another trace of the Wends in an English charter of A.D. 1026, which is witnessed by Earls Godwin, Hacon, Hrani, Sihtric, and Wrytesleof. The name of the last of these is apparently Slavonic. There is also a charter of Cnut, dated 1033, by which he granted to Bouige, his huscarl, land at Horton in Dorset. Saxo, the early chronicler of the Danes, tells us that Cnut’s Wendish kingdom was called Sembia, and it was in the Wendish war under Cnut that Godwin, the Anglo-Saxon earl, rose to distinction. As Wendland was actually part of Cnut’s continental dominions, the migration into England of Wendish people during his reign is easily accounted for.
There is additional evidence of the intercourse of the Wendish people of Pomerania with the people of Anglo-Saxon England in the objects that have been found. The gold ring which was found at Cöslin, on the Pomeranian coast, in 1839, Stephens says was the first instance of the discovery of a golden bracteate and Northern runes on German soil. The inscription is in provincial English runes, the rune ( (symbol characters) ), yo, a slight variation of ( i ), being decisive in this respect, for, as Stephens says, it has only been found in England. The ring must be a very early one, for it contains the heathen symbols for Woden and also for the Holy Triskele (Y). Stephens states that it cannot well he later than the fifth century, and that it had been worn by a warrior ‘who had been in England, or had gotten it thence by barter.’ The style is that of six centuries earlier than the eleventh or twelfth centuries, when the Germans came to Pomerania. The well~preserved characters on the ring point to its loss at an early date after its manufacture, and thus to early communication of some kind between England and Pomerania. It may have been the much-prized, rare ornament of a Wendish chief, brought or sent from England. In any case we know that the Wends, who had no knowledge of runes, must have prized ornaments such as this, whose construction was beyond their skill, for the relics of Vandal ornaments we possess from other countries where Vandals settled are clearly in many respects rough imitations of those of the ancient Goths. With this English golden finger-ring there were also two Roman golden coins, one of Theodosins the Great (379-395), and the other of Leo I. (457-474), thus fixing the probable date of the ring as the fifth century. At that time the Goths were settling down in Kent, with some Wends, probably, near to them. They can be traced in both Essex and Sussex. The coast of the Baltic, it should also be remembered, was not only Wendish in the parts nearest to the Elbe, but also Gothic in those beyond the Vistula. The discovery of this ring in old Vandal territory with the Roman coins, and especially with the very early English runic characters upon it, assists in proving that the early Goths who settled in Kent were of the same stock as those who overran so large a part of Europe during the decline of the Roman Empire. In considering this, it should also be remembered that inscribed stones discovered at Sandwich, which are marked with very early runes, and are ascribed to the same early period, still exist in Kent.
The evidence we possess relating to the connection of ancient Wendland with both the earlier and later Anglo-Saxons thus points to a continued intercourse between that country and our own. It is known to have been very considerable in the time of Cnut, who was the King or overlord of the Baltic Wendland. A large discovery of coins was made at Althofthen on the Obra, in the province of Posen, not far from Brandenburg, in 1872. From sixty to seventy Anglo-Saxon coins of Æthelred and Cnut, and an Irish one of Sithric, were found in this hoard. These Anglo-Saxon coins bear the mint marks of Cambridge, London, Canterbury, Shaftesbury, Cricklade, Oxford, Stamford, Winchester, York. and other places—twenty in all.
The local traces of Wendish settlers in various English counties will he stated when considering the evidence of tribal settlers in different parts of England. Among these local traces are customs and folk-lore, which were of great vitality among these people of Wendland. On this subject Magnus, the historian of the Goths and Vandals, gives us positive information. He says: ‘For, as Albertus Crantzius reports of Vandalia, “great is the ove men bear to their ancestors’ traditions.” ’
OUR DARKER FOREFATHERS
One of the facts concerning the colour of the hair and eyes of the people in different counties of England at the present time, brought to light by scientific observations, is that there is a higher percentage of people of a mixed brown type living in Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Wiltshire, and Dorset, than in most other counties. Except those in Cornwall and on the Celtic borders, the inhabitants of these counties are the darkest. This is usually explained on the supposition that in the process of the Saxon settlement a British population was allowed to remain in these parts of England, which in the course of centuries became mixed with the inhabitants of Anglo-Saxon descent, and consequently the present population is more marked than those of pure descent by brown, hazel, or black-hazel eyes, with brown (chestnut), dark-brown, or black hair.(1)
The counties of Hertford and Buckingham have people as dark as Wales. All investigation goes to show that this brunette outcrop is a reality. Beddoe found that the area in which there is a larger percentage of brown people in England extends from the river Lea to the Warwickshire Avon. In dealing with the circumstances of the settlement, these ethnological facts must receive consideration. The survival of a British population is a possible explanation, and the one which appears to be the most natural. As there are some difficulties in this conclusion, the question arises, is there any other way in which the origin of these mixed brown people, surrounded by others of a somewhat fairer complexion, can be explained ? An alternative explanation is that people of a darker race may have come with the Angles, Saxons, or Danes, and have settled largely in these parts of the country. There is circumstantial evidence that people of a brown or dark complexion did come to England during the time of both Saxon and the Danish settlements, and this may now be summarised.
First, we have evidence that Wends were among the settlers either during the early period or later in alliance with the Danes. The Wends, specifically so called by the Germans, included some tribes much darker than the Saxons and Angles, as the remnant of the race still called the Wends living on the border of Saxony and Prussia at the present time shows. They are the darkest people in Northern Germany, according to the official census. From 26 to 29 per cent, of the children of the Wendish district of Lusatia, south of Dresden, were shown by this census to be brunettes, not with standing the admixture of race with the much fairer people of Teutonic descent which has been going on along this borderland since the dawn of history. All the Slav nations are not dark. Some are as fair as the Scandinavians, while other, such as the Wends and the Czechs of Bohemia, are dark.
The Wendish place-names in Buckinghamshire and on its borders help to show that some people of this race probably settled in that county. Huntingdon tells us that during the later Saxon period they formed part of the Scandian hosts.(2) They were in alliance with the Norwegians, Danes, Swedes, Goths, and Frisians, or, in any case, people of these races were acting together in the Danish expeditions against England. It is likely, therefore, that when permanent settlements were formed adjoining townships would be occupied by people of this alliance. This consideration helps us to identify Wendlesbury in Hertfordshire.(3) Wendover and its neighbourhood in Buckinghamshire, and Anglo-Saxon Wendofra,(4) and Windsor, anciently Wendlesore,(5) close to the southern border of that county, were probably named after settlers who were Wends.
If British people were left, as suggested, like an eddy between the main lines of the Anglo-Saxon advance east and west of these counties, would it not be very surprising that the advancing Saxons should make no use of the existing roman roads – the Watling Street, Ikenield Street, and Akeman Street – which passed through parts of these shires, while Ermine Street also went through Hertfordshire ? To suppose that invaders and subsequent settlers would have forsaken the excellent roads which the Romans had made, and in their advance would have passed through the more difficult country east and west of them, thus leaving undisturbed a British population, is most unlikely.
Secondly, these counties are not specially marked by the survival of Celtic place-names, nor by a dialect containing words of Celtic origin. In Anglo-Saxon times there was, however, a place named Wealabroc, in Buckinghamshire.
Thirdly, it should be remembered that the western border of Buckinghamshire was at one time the western frontier of the Danelaw, which comprised fifteen counties known as Fiftonshire, until after the Norman Conquest, and that Danish law survived for more than a century after the conquest east of this frontier.(6) This fact points to a population largely Scandian. There is, in addition evidence that points to Norwegians of a brunette appearance as another source whence brown-complexioned people may have come to England. On the south-east coast of Norway, and here and there on the coast further north, a population is met with differs from the usual Norwegian type, and this has been referred to anthropologists to a very ancient settlement there of the prehistory brown race that survives in the highlands of Central Europe, and is known as the brown Alpine race.(7) This race is believed to have extended before the dawn of history much further northwards in Germany. The brown people of Norway are well seen in Joderen, where Arbo found the blonde and really dark-haired people about equally represented. The Norwegian brunettes differ from the typical blondes of that country in two other particulars. First, they are broad –headed, while the blondes, which comprise the bulk of the nation, are long-headed ; and not only are the broader-headed people of these coastal districts darker as a whole, but in them the broad-headed individuals tend to be darker than the other type, as Arbo has clearly shown.(8) Secondly, the broadest-headed people of these localities in Norway incline to shortness of stature below that of the typical Norwegian.
From Huntingdon`s statement concerning Vandals as Danish allies and these considerations, there appears to be evidence to account for the greater percentage of brunettes, or the greater tendency of the brunette type, that prevails in Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire over the adjacent counties, without necessarily concluding that such an ethnological phenomenon can only have been caused by a remnant of the British population. It is, indeed, an unlikely district for Celtic people to have been left in large numbers. On the contrary, in view of it excellent communications, it is a country where the conquest by the early settlers might be expected to have been most thorough. Whether the Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire brunettes are partly due to the settlement of Wends and Norwegians of the darker type, as now suggested, or to some other cause, the British theory as a compete explanation, in view of the facts, appears improbable. The chief lines of the Anglo-Saxon advance during theaerly settlement were the navigable rivers and the Roman roads. The Scandian advances into the country during their conquests and later settlements must have been along the same lines of communication. On one occasion, at least, we read of the Danish host presumably using the Ikenield way, on the march from East Anglia into Dorset.(9)
This consideration of the probable origin of the great proportion of brunettes in two of the south midland counties of England leads us to that of the colour-names as surnames and place-names, which may probably have been derived from their origin settlers. For example, there is the common name Brown. This has been derived from the Anglo-Saxon brun, signifying brown. It is not reasonable to doubt that when our forefathers called a man Brun or Brown, they gave him this name as descriptive of his brown complexion. The probability that the brunettes were common is supported by the frequent references to persons named Brun in Anglo-Saxon literature. Brun was a name not confined to England in the Anglo-Saxon and later periods. On the contrary, we find that it was common name in ancient Germany.(10) the typical place-name Bruninga-feld occurs in a charter of AEthelstan dated A. D. 938, `in loco qui Bruninga-feld dicitur.`(11) Bruesham, hants, is mentioned in a charter of Edward `the Elder` about 900.(12) Brunesford is another suggestive name.(13) Bruman is mentioned as a personal name in Anglo-Saxon records of the eleventh century, and examples of the name Bruning are somewhat numerous in documents of the same period.(14) At the present time old place-names, such as Braunschweig or Brunswick, are common in Germany.(15) The custom of calling people by colour-names from their personal appearance, or places after them, was clearly not peculiar to our own country. It is probable that the name Brunswick was derived from the brown complexion of its original inhabitants. The map published by Ripley, based on the official ethnological survey of Germany, shows that parts of the country near Brunswick have a higher percentage of brunettes than the districts further north. Beddoe also made observations on a number of Brunswick peasantry, and records some remarkable facts relating to the proportion of brunettes among those who came under his observation.(16)
In view of this, and the evidence relating to the use of the Anglo-Saxon word brun in English place-names,we are not, I think, justified in deciding that all English names which begin with brun, modernized into burn in many cases by the well-known shifting of the r sound, have been derived from burn, a bourn or stream, rather than from brun, brown. Such names as Bruninga-feld(17) and Brunesham point to the opposite conclusion, that Brun in such names refers to people, probably so named from their complexions. If a large proportion of the settlers in the counties of Buckingham and Hertford were of a brown complexion, it is clear that they would have been less likely to have been called Brun or brown by their neighbours than brunettes would in other counties, where such a complexion may have been rarer, and consequently more likely to have attracted the notice of the people around them. It is not probable that people who were originally designated by the colour-names Brown, Black, Gray, or the like, gave themselves these names. They most likely received them from others.
The evidence concerning brown people in England during the Anglo-Saxon period which can be derived from the place-names Brun is supplemented by that supplied in at least some of the old place-names beginning with dun and duning. Dun is an Old English word denoting a colour partaking of brown and black, and where it occurs at the beginning of words in such a combination as Duningland,(18) It is possible that it refers to brown people or their children, rather than to the Anglo-Celtic word dun, a hill or fortified place.
As regards the ancient brown race or races of North Europe, there can be no doubt of their existence in the south-east of Norway and in the east of Friesland.(19) there can be no doubt about the important influence which the old Wendish race has had in the north-eastern parts of Germany in transmitting to their descendants a more brunette complexion than prevails among the people of Hanover, Holstein, and Westphalia, of more pure Teutonic descent. We cannot reasonably doubt that, in view of such a survival of brown people as we find at the present time in the provinces of North Holland, Drenthe and Overijssel, which form the hinterland of the ancient Frisian country, numerous brunettes must have come into England among the Frisians, It wouldbe as unreasonable to doubt this as it would to think that during the Norwegian immigration into England all the brown people of Norway were precluded from leaving their country because they were brunettes, or that the Wends, who undoubtedly settled in England in considerable numbers, were none of them of a brunette type.
The survival of some people with broad heads and of a brown type in parts of Drenthe, Gelderland, and Overijssel appears unmistakable.(20) They present a remarkable contrast in appearance to their Frisian neighbours, who are of a different complexion in regard to hair and skin, and are specially characterized as long-headed.
It was in Gelderland that ancient Thiel was situated, and the men of Thiel and those of Brune were apparently recognised as different people from the real Frisians, for in the later Anglo-Saxon laws relating to the sojourn of strangers within the City of London it is stated that `the men of the Emperor may lodge within the city wherever they please, except those of Tiesle and of Brune.(21)
The evidence concerning the origin of the broad-headed Slavonic nations connects them with the broad-headed and still older Alpine brown race of Central Europe. The most generally excepted theory among anthropologists as to the physical relationship of the Slavs is that they were always, as the majority of them are to-day, of the same stock as the broad-headed Alpine race.(22) This old race has sometimes been called the Celtic, but it is perhaps more accurate to say that it is the very ancient stock from which the old Celtic race of the British Bronze Age was an offshoot. This curious circumstance, consequently, comes before us in considering the Anglo-Saxon settlement of England. If the brunette character of the people of any part of England at the present time is due to a survival of the race characters of the Celts of The British Bronze Age, and if this same character has been caused partly by people of a darker complexion and broad heads settling as immigrants among the fair-haired and long-headed Teutons in other parts of England, this racial character in both cases can be traced along different lines to the same distant source.
The consideration of the evidence that people of Brunette complexions were among the Anglo-Saxon settlers in England leads on to that of people of a still darker hue, the dark, black, or brown-black settlers. Probably there must have been some of these among the Anglo-Saxons, for we meet with the personal names Blacman, Blaecman, Blakeman, Blacaman, Blac`sunu, Blaecca, and Blachman, in various documents of the period.(23) Blaecca was an ealderman of Lindsey who was converted by Paulinus ; Blaecman was the son of Ealric or Edric, a descendant of Ida, ancestor of Ealhred, King of Bernicia, and so on.(24) The same kind of evidence is met with among the oldest place-names. Blacmannebergh is mentioned in an Anglo-Saxon charter ; (25) Blachemanestone was the name of a place in Dorset,(26) and Blachemenstone that of a place in Kent.(27) Blacheshale and Blachenhale are Domesday names of places in Somerset, and Blachingelei occurs in the Domesday record of Surrey. The name Blachemone occurs in the Hertfordshire survey and Blachene in Lincoln. Among the earliest names of the same kind in the charters we find Blacanden in Hants and Blacandon in Dorset. The places called Blachemanestone in Dorset and Blachemenestone in Kent were on or quite close to the coast, a circumstance which points to the settlers having come to these places by water rather than to a survival of black people of the Celtic race having been left in them.
Among old place-names of the same kind in various counties, some of which are met with in later, but still old, records, we find Blakeney in Glouceatershire ; Blakeney in Norfolk ; Blakenham in Suffolk ; Blakemere,(28) an ancient hamlet, and Blakesware, near Ware in Hertfordshire. This Hertford name is worthy of note in reference to what has been said concerning the brunettes in that county at the present time. Another circumstance connected with these names which it is desirable to remember is the absence of evidence to show that the Old English ever called any of the darker-complexioned Britons brown men or black men. Their name for them was Wealas. So far as I am aware, not a single instance occurs in which the Welsh are mentioned in any Anglo-Saxon document as black or brown people ; on the contrary, the Welsh annals mention black Vikings on the coast, as if they were men of unusual personal appearance.(29)
There is another old word used by the Anglo-Saxons to denote black or brown-black – the word sweart. The personal names Stuart and Sueart may have been derived from this word, and may have originally denoted people of a darker-brown or black complexion. Some names of this kind are mentioned in the Domesday record of Buckinghamshire and Lincolnshire. These may be of Scandinavian origin, for the ekename or nickname Svarti is found in the Northern sagas.(30) Halfden `the Black` was the name of a King of Norway who died in 863. The so-called black men of the Anglo-Saxon period probably included some of the darker Wendish people among them, immigrants or descendants of people of the same race as the ancestors of the Sorbs of Lausatia on the border of Saxony and Prussia at the present day. Some of the darker Wends may well have been among the Black Vikings referred to in the Irish annals,(31) as well as in those of Wales,(32) and may have been the people who have left the Anglo-Saxon name Blavmanne-berghe, which occurs in one of the charters,(33) Blachemenestone on the Kentish coast, and Blachemanstone on the Dorset coast. As late as the time of the Domesday Survey we meet with records of people apparently named after their dark complexions. In Buckinghamshire, blacheman, Suartinus, and othersare mentioned ; in Sussex, one named Blac ; in Suffolk, Blakeemannus and Saurtingus ; and others at Lincoln. The invasion of the coast of the British Isles by Viking of a dark or brown complexion rests on historical evidence which is too circumstantial to admit of doubt. In the Irish annals the Black Vikings are called Dubh-Ghenti, or Black Gentiles.(34) These Black Gentiles on some occasions fought against other plunderers of the Irish coasts known as the Fair Gentiles, who can hardly have been others than the fair Danes or Northmen. In the year 851 the Black Gentiles came to Athcliath(35) – i.e., Dublin. In 852 we are told that eight ships of the Finn-Ghenti arrived and fought against the Dubh-Ghenti for three days, and that the Dubh-Ghenti were victorious. The black Vikings appear at this time to have had a settlement in or close to Dublin, and during the ninth century were much in evidence on the Irish coast. In 877 a great battle was fought at Loch-Cuan between them and the Fair Gentiles, in which Albann, Chief of the black Gentiles, fell.(36) He may well have beena chieftain of the race of the Northern Sorbs of the Mecklenburg coast
There is still another way in which men of black hair or complexions may have come into England – viz., as thralls among the Norse invaders. In his translation of `Orosius,` King Alfred inserts the account which Othere, the Norse mariner, gave him tribute in skins, eiderdown, whalebone, and ropes made from whale and seal skins, which the Northern Fins, now called Lapps, paid to the Northmen. Their descendants are amongst the darkest people of Europe, and as there were thralls, some of them may have accompanied their lords. The Danes and Norse, having the general race characteristics of tall, fair men, must have been sharply distinguished in appearance from Vikings, such as those of Jomborg, for many of these were probably of a dark complexion. There is an interesting record of the descent of dark sea-rovers on the coast of North Wales in the `Annales Cambriae,` under the year 987, which tells us that Gothrit, son of Harald, with black men, devastated Anglesea, and captured two thousand men. Another entry in the same record tells us that Meredut redeemed the captives from the black men. This account in the Welsh annals receives some confirmation in the Sagas of the Norse kings, one of which tells us that Olav Trygvesson was for three years, 982-985, king in Vindland – i.e., Wendland – where he resided with his Queen, to whom he was much attached ; but on her death, whoses loss he greatly felt, he had no more pleasure in Vindland. He therefore provided himself with ships and went on a Viking expedition, first plundering Friesland and the coast all the way to Flanders. Thence he sailed to Northumberland, plundered its coast and those of Scotland, Man, Cumberland, and Bretland – i.e., Wales – during the years 985-988, calling himself a Russian under the name of Ode.(37) From these two separate accounts there can be but little doubt, notwithstanding the differences in the names, of the descent on the coast of North Wales at this time of dark sea-rovers under a Scandinavian leader, and it is difficult to see who they were if not dark-complexioned Wends or other allies of the Norsemen. It is possible some of these dark Vikings may have been allies or mercenaries from the south of Europe, where the Norse made conquests.
As regards the evidence concerning black-haired settlers in England at a still earlier date, there is a story of two Anglian priests named the black and Fair Hewald, who, following the example of Willibord among the Frisians, went into Saxony as missionaries, and on coming to a village were admitted to the house of the head man, who promised to protect them, and send them on to the ealdorman of the district. They devoted themselves to prayer and religious observances, which were misunderstood by the pagan rustics, who apparently were afraid of magical arts. At any rate, these strange rites, so novel to them, aroused suspicion among the people, who thought that these Angles were allowed to meet the ealdorman they might draw him away from their gods, and before long draw away the province from the observances of their forefathers. So they slew both the black and Fair Hewald, whose names in subsequent Christian time were, and still are, held in high honour in Westphalia.(38) It is a touching story, and one that tells us more than the devotion, inspired by Christian zeal to risk their lives, which these missionaries showed for the conversion of men of their own race ; for , as their names indicate, they bore in their different complexions evidence of the existence of the fair and dark people among the Anglo-Saxon stock.
As already mentioned, then name Brunswick appears to be one of significance, and the Wendish names in that part of Germany, Wendeburg, Wendhausen,and Wenden, may be compared with the Buckinghamshire Domesday names Wendovre, Weneslai, and Wandene, and with Wenriga or Wenrige in hartfordshire. The probable connection of the Wends – some tribes of whom, such as the Sorbs, are known to have been dark – with parts of Germany near Brunswick, and with parts of Herts and Bucks, is shown by these names. Domesday Book tells us of huscarls in Buckinghamshire, and of people who bore such names as Suarting, Suiert, Suen, Suert, and Suiuard, among its land- owners, and it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that such names refer to people of dark complexions. Among the lahmens of Lincoln, a very Danish town, there were also apparently some so-called Danes of a dark complexion, for Domesday Book mentions Suartin, son of Gribold ; Suardine, son of Hardenut ; and Suartine Sortsbrand, son of Ulf.
In view of the facts pointing to settlements of Wends and dark-haired people in the counties of Hertford and Buckingham, the survival of the custom of junior inheritance at Cheshunt and Hadham in Herts is of interest. In cases of intestacy the land in the eastern part of Cheshunt ,(39) or `below bank,` which is by far the greater part of the parish, descends to the youngest son by ancient custom, and that custom, traced to its most probable home, leads us to Eastern Germany, and to the old Slavic tribes which once occupied it, as will be fully considered in a subsequent chapter.
From the evidence mentioned, the impression left on the mind is that our Old English forefathers could not have been men of three ancient nations only, Jutes, Saxons, and Angles. These names, in reference to the conquest and colonization of England, were but general names for tribal people in alliance, generally the name of the largest section of such allies. They were no doubt convenient names, but cannot be regarded as ethnological designations. This has become apparent from the skulls and other remains found in Anglo-Saxon burial-places. The shapes and special characteristics of these skulls whether from the so-called Anglian districts or Saxon parts of England, present such marked contrasts that anthropologists are unable to ascribe them all to one race of people. A minority of those found in ancient cemeteries in Sussex, Wiltshire, and the Eastern Counties, present such typical differences from the majority in each district as to leave no doubt that they represent a variety of race or people descended fro ma fusion of races. The easiest explanation of this is, of course, to turn to the ancient Briton, and generally the remote Briton of the Bronze Age known as the Round Barrow man. Where in early cemeteries Saxon or Anglian skulls have been found presenting characteristics which are clearly not of the Teutonic type, the early British inhabitant of the Bronze Age has usually been called in as an ancestor. The typical Teutonic skull is dolichocephalic, the skull of the British people of the Bronze Age is brachycephalic. The inference that there was a fusion of race between the Saxons and Angles and people descending from men of the Bronze Age is easily drawn. There is, however, one difficulty. The Britons of the Bronze Age lived about 500 B.C., a date which may fairly be taken to represent the time of the Round Barrow men. The Angles and Saxons are usually said to have come here not earlier than about 500A.D. There are, therefore, a thousand years between the two periods, and in that interval was the period of the Roman rule, during which men of almost every Roman province served with the legions in Britain, and in many recorded cases some of them settled here, and presumably left descendants. In view of this racial fusion which must have gone on, it is difficult to believe that the Romano-Briton of the early Anglo-Saxon period possessed the same skull characteristics as the much more remote man of the Bronze Age, who may not have been his ancestor at all. Moreover, the Welsh also, who maybe supposed to be descended from this later British stock, are not broad headed.
From what has been said of the presence of broad-headed people of a brunette type in parts of Norway, among the much more numerous long-headed people of a fair complexion who formed the bulk of the Norwegian nation, it will be seen that the facts point to an early broad-headed brown race, some of whom settled on the Norwegian coast, the long-headed fair race of the typical Norse variety having perhaps subsequently conquered them. In any case, we find evidence sufficient to justify the inference that probably the early broad-headed people were brown. The same result is obtained by the study of the broad-headed people of Central Europe at the present day, the descendants presumably of the old Alpine brown race. The same evidence is afforded by the remnant of the Wends, whose skulls are broad, and whose complexions are more or less brown at the present day, notwithstanding their fusion with the Germans. We have thus existing in Norway and parts of Germany at the present time people whose ethnological characteristics appear to agree with those of a section of the Anglo-Saxon people in England. It does not, of course, admit of proof that the broad-headed skulls, which occur in a small minority in Anglo-Saxon cemeteries, were the skulls of people of a brunette complexion. Similarly, we are unable to prove that the people who are called Brun, Brunman, or Bruning, in Saxon charters or other documents were broad-headed ; but in view of the ethnological survival to the present day in various parts of North Europe, from which our Anglo-Saxon forefathers came, of broad-headed people of the Brunette type, we can point in England to the fact that broad skulls are found in Anglo-saxon graves, and to the historical fact that there were brown people in England during the Anglo-Saxon period, and there the evidence must be left. It may, however, be borne in mind that as brown passes into dark brown or black, the literary evidence concerning brown Anglo-Saxons is strengthened by that relating to the black men, or to those designated by the old brown-black word sweart, and in some cases, perhaps even the old word dun.
The evidence of brown people of the Wendish race may, however, be carried further by the comparison of surviving names in North-East Germany with similar surviving names in England. Those of Wendlesbury, Wandsworth (Wendelsworth), Winsdor (Wendlesore), find their parallels in names in the old Wendish country of Mecklenburg, where similar names are to be found – such as Wanden, the name of a province and place on the border of ancient Wendland, and similar names in Brunswick, to which some of the Wends probably migrated. The name Wendland also survives in Hanover, where a remnant of the Wendish language died out only three centuries ago. In these names we discern a connection of the places with the Wends, who are at the present time the darkest people of Northern Germany. They were Slavs, whose line of migration in some far-distant era was from the country around the sources of the river Oder, down the wide valley of that river in Silesia to the Baltic coast of Mecklenburg and Pomerania.(40) This migration is marked at the present time by a greater percentage of people of the brunette type(41) in this district than prevails on its eastern or western sides, where fusion with other fair-coloured races has been going on since the dawn of history. Whereas the country east and west of the valley of the Oder was found by the German Ethnological Survey to contain from 5 to 10 per cent, of brunettes among the present population, the country which marks the migration of the ancient Wends to the Mecklenburg coast contained 11 to 15 per cent. From this evidence and that of the complexion of the Wends of Saxony at the present time we are warranted in considering the ancient Wends to have been brunettes, or to have comprised tribes who were. It is on account of this historic migration, says Ripley, that Saxony, Brandenburg, and Mecklenburg are less purely teutonic today in respect to pigmentation than they once were.(42) not only is there a greater percentage of brunettes in these parts of Germany than is shown in the purely Teutonic parts of that country, but the whole East of Germany contains a population which is broader-headed, shading off imperceptibly into countries where pure Slavic languages are in daily use. The connection with our own country, in its subsequent consequences, of this great migration of people having broad heads and dark complexions through Silesia into Mecklenburg is one of the most interesting considerations indirectly concerned with the Anglo-Saxon race.
THE JUTES, GOTHS, AND NORTHMEN.
The Jutes, who, according to the English chroniclers, were one of the three nations by which England was settled, are but little mentioned under that name by early historians of Northern Europe. Bede calls them Jutes, so that we may conclude that at the end of the seventh century this was the name by which these people were known in England. In early records relating to Germany and the North they appear to have been called by many names—Vitungi or Juthungi, Jutæ, Gætas, Gothi, Gothini, Gythones, Guthones, Gutæ, Gautæ, Vitæ, and Gæta. The name Geats they derived from Geat, a mythological ancestor of Woden, according to the West Saxon genealogy, and Asser tells us that Geat was worshipped as a god.
Tacitus mentions Goths under the name Guthones, and states that they occupied the country east of the Vistula. He says also that the Goutai lived in the island of Scandia, and we may identify the locality with the Swedish province of Gothland. The people around the Gulf of Riga at the present day, including the Livonians, are partly of Teutonic origin, and may in part be descendants of those ancient Gothic people who are known to have lived east of the Vistula.
The Jutes who settled in England had much in common with the Frisians; so also had the Goths. In the mythological genealogies given in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and elsewhere, Godwulf appears as the father of Fin, which probably refers to a very remote connection between the Frisians and the Goths, for later on the name Fin occurs as a representative of the Frisian nation. The languages, as far as Frisian and the Mœso-Gothic are concerned, point to a similar connection. There is evidence of a large Frisian immigration in various parts of England, and much of the country was evidently settled by them under the names Saxons and Angles. As Goths and Frisians were connected in their mythological names, and the great mythological Frisian is Fin, his name perhaps refers to an ancient link also with the Fin race, thus faintly transmitted through some remote connection. The accounts which the Frisians have of the expedition of Hengist are similar to those which we possess of him among the Jutes of Kent.
The Jutes, like the Angles, in all probability, were originally located in Scandinavia, for Ptolemy, writing in the second century of our era, places the Gutæ in the south of that peninsula. In Bede’s time Jutland was known by its present name, and no doubt took it from the Jutes, but the time of their settlement in Kent and that of Bede are separated by nearly three centuries, and during this interval the Jutes may have become located also in Jutland. There is neither contemporary history nor tradition that a people so called were there before Bede’s time. His statement that those who settled in England came from Jutland is, as Latham has pointed out, only an inference from the fact that when he wrote Jutes, Angles, and Saxons were in contact in the Danish peninsula and the adjoining part of North Germany, and also in contact in England. Under these circumstances it was a logical inference that the Angles came from Anglen and the Jutes from Jutland, but this is probably only true in part. Jutland may have been a Jutish colony like Kent and the Isle of Wight, and probably an earlier one, seeing that it is so much nearer to the original homeland of the Gothic race in Scandinavia, but that would not necessarily imply that all the Jutes came from Jutland.
Whatever may have been the origin of their name, it is probable that they were, like the modern Danes, men of more than average stature. It has been commonly assumed that during the inroads into the countries that were provinces of the Roman Empire, and the settlement of people who gave rise to new nations therein, only Britain was attacked by bands of Saxons, Angles, and Jutes. We do not read of conquests by these nations elsewhere. Some of the Saxons are, indeed, said to have accompanied their neighbours, the Lombards, in their great Southern expedition and invasion of Italy, but little is known of this alliance.
Apart from the statement of Bede, whose list of tribes from which the Old English of his time were known to have descended, is not repeated by the later chroniclers, it would seem improbable that, in the general rush for new territory, two or three German tribes or nations should have had left to them the island of Britain as a kind of exclusive territory for conquest and settlement. Bede, the earliest Anglo-Saxon historian, wrote, no doubt, according to the best information current in his day, and his statement concerning the many German tribes from which the English were descended is supported by modern research. Tradition cannot be altogether neglected. In all old countries there comes a time when history dawns, but men lived and died before that dawn, and only traditions concerning them came down to the historic period. Many such traditions are no doubt based on actual occurrences, the details of which have become more or less hazy, and in some instances distorted by the additions acquired through their narration by word of mouth from age to age. The story of Hengist may be a tradition of this kind.
As already stated, Nennius, in the ‘Historia Britonum,’ gives one name to all the invaders of Britain, that of Saxons, and does not attempt to distinguish them under the national or tribal names by which they were known among themselves. It was sufficient for his purpose as a British historian to describe these enemies of his countrymen by one general name.
In the passage of Bede in which he refers to some of the tribes from which his countrymen were known to have descended, we obtain a glimpse of those wider views of the origin of the Old English race which were known in his time, and were probably well recognised by existing tribal differences in dialect, customs, and even in the physical appearance of the people at the time he wrote.
In the passage of Nennius in which he mentions that among the early invaders of Britain there were some who came from almost all the provinces of Germany, we have corroboration of Bede’s statement and another glimpse of the current knowledge in Britain at that time, and of the wider origin of the Old English than the later chroniclers have transmitted to us.
The general names Saxons, Angles, and Jutes were no doubt at first used as comprehensive terms for people of various tribes, but as time passed an, and the chroniclers omitted all references to the tribal names mentioned by Bede, these three names came to be regarded in a more limited sense as the names of the actual nations from which alone the Old English sprang. The omission of Frisians is especially remarkable. It has been shown that under the name Saxons the Frisians must have been included, and it will also be shown that they must be included among the Anglian settlers. It has also been shown that the Angles were allied to the Warings seated on the south-west of the Baltic coast. As Bede mentions the Danes in his list, it is also practically certain that the early Danes were allies of the Angles. The list, therefore, of the nations and tribes from whom the English of the end of the seventh century were descended becomes enlarged. Frisians, Danes, Hunni or Hunsings, Rugians, and Boructers, must certainly be numbered among them.
Moreover, when we consider Bede’s list by the light of modern research, we arrive at the conclusion that some of the Franks probably took part in the settlement of England, for he mentions the Boructarii or Bructers, and these are known later on to have been part of the Frank confederation.
It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the Goths must have been allies of the Angles. They were also close allies of the Vandals or Wends, of which nation the Rugians formed part. The commerce of the Baltic during the period of the Anglo-Saxon settlement was largely in the hands of the Goths. It is impossible to overrate the commercial importance of the Isle of Gotland at this time and for many centuries later. The ruins of Wisby, the chief port of ancient Gotland, are to this day the greatest wonder of the Baltic, and Öland Isle was another seat of ancient Gothic trade. There is some connection between the ancient trade of the Goths and the settlement of them and their allies in England. The most remarkable native commodity which came in ancient days from the Baltic was the fossil-gum known as amber. The trade in amber can be traced almost as long as any in Europe. It was known to the Greeks and Romans, and came from the North to the South by the old trade routes across the Continent. The Goths were known only too well to the later Roman Emperors. Long after the Romans had left Britain that country was still recognised as one of the provinces of the Empire, and as late as A.D. 537 Belisarius, in the name of the Emperor, granted it to the Goths, which seems to show that the Byzantine Emperor of the sixth century knew quite well that Goths were already settled in our country.
The ancient people on the coast of the Baltic who collected amber and exchanged it for other commodities were called the Guthoncs and the Æstyi. There were two routes by which amber could reach the South of Europe in the time of the Empire—one through Germany, the other by the route further eastward through the countries known as Sarmatia or Slavonia. The double name for the people near the mouth of the Vistula probably arose in this way, from their being known to the Germans as the Æstyi, and to the Slavonians who traded across to the Black Sea as Guthones. These Guthoncs were Goths of the same race or descent as the islanders of Gotland, and as the people of East and West Gothland in Sweden. That the Reid-Goths—at least, some of them—lived in the Scandian peninsula is proved by a runic inscription on a stone at Rök in East Gothland, in which a chieftain named Waring is commemorated, and in which he is said to have increased their power. This inscription also connects the Waring name with the eastern or Ostrogoths of Sweden. Amber was certainly used as an ornament among the Anglo—Saxons at a very early date. It has been frequently found in the form of beads and other articles in cemeteries in many parts of England, and its use at this early time in England points to an early trade with the Baltic. Its common use in the manufacture of beads and other personal ornaments may perhaps also point to a custom of personal decoration which was introduced into England by settlers from the Baltic. These amber traders were commonly known in England by their German name of Eastman, the Æstyi of the early writers.
The names Estum and Estmere are mentioned by King Alfred in connection with the Vistula in his description of the relative situation of Veonod-land—i.e., Wendland, Vitland, and other countries on the southern coast of the Baltic Sea. The Æstyi are mentioned by Pliny and Tacitus, the former of whom locates them in ‘Æstuarium Oceani.’ an expression which, as Latham has pointed out, probably arose through the name Est-ware or Eastmen being misunderstood to have reference to an estuary. Pliny connects the Æstyi with the amber country, and Tacitus, in following the coast-line of the Baltic, comes to their country. The locality of these people of the amber district was therefore the coast in which amber is found at the present day. To the north of it is the Isle of Gotland, and this island in the time of the Romans and during the Anglo-Saxon period was the greatest commercial centre in the North of Europe. The proof of its trade with England and overland with Eastern countries is complete. The evidence of its early trade during the Roman period is shown by the large number of Roman coins which have been found in the island. Thousands, indeed, of the Roman and early Byzantine periods have been discovered there. Similarly. during the Viking Age, the coins found in Gotland show that the island stood foremost as the commercial centre of the North. It kept its supremacy for ten or twelve centuries. In addition, thousands of Arabic coins have been found there; also silver ornaments, to which the name Kufic has been given, showing that the old trade route with Gotland extended at one time as far eastward as Bokhara, Samarcand, Bagdad, and Kufa.
Another source of evidence concerning the eastern trade of Gotland, and more particularly with the Eastern Empire, is that derived from certain weights of the Viking period found in the island, and now in the museum at Stockholm. These relate to the weights of gold and silver, and their unit is exactly the same as that of the Eastern stater, thus pointing to a common weight in use for purposes of exchange between Goths of the Baltic and Greeks at the Levant.
It is of interest to note this influence of eastern trade in the monetary computation introduced into England by Danish and Scandian settlers. The ora is mentioned in the treaty between Alfred and Guthrum, in subsequent laws, and in Domesday Book. The marks and oras of the Danes were the computation in use in England within the Danelaw until after the Norman Conquest.
Although it is not probable that Danish marks and other coins were used as coins in England, money computations were often made in them: In Domesday Book the Danish money is mentioned as the computation in which customary payments were made in various boroughs and manors outside the Danelaw—Bristol, Dorchester, Wareham, Bridport, Shaftesbury, Ringwood, some manors in the Isle of Wight,in North-East Gloucestershire, and elsewhere, being among the number, thus clearly pointing to Scandinavian settlers.
The pounds and shillings of Wessex were Roman in their origin. The marks and oras of the Danish districts in England had an Eastern equivalence. As regards their value, they had their origin in the Eastern Empire and in the monetary exchange that prevailed along the Eastern trade route from Byzantium to the Baltic. More than 20,000 Anglo-Saxon coins have been found in Sweden and the Isle of Gotland, ranging in date from Edward the Elder to Edward the Confessor. Many of them are preserved in the Royal Collection at Stockholm.
These remarkable discoveries,and especially the Roman coins on the one hand and the Anglo-Saxon on the other, show that the great trade of Gotland was continuous from the Roman period to the later Saxon time in England. Its commercial prosperity as the chief centre of maritime trade in the North of Europe must consequently have extended over the whole period of the attacks on Britain by the Saxons, Angles, Jutes or Goths, and Danes. There can, indeed, be little doubt that such a maritime centre as the island was during the fifth and succeeding centuries furnished ships for the invasions and settlement of England by Goths and their allies. Gotland was no ordinary island, and Wisby, its great part, was no ordinary seaport. It must have exercised no ordinary influenue on maritime affairs in Northern Europe during the time it flourished, and this influence certainly extended to England. The Goths and other Teutonic people of the Baltic are brought under very early notice by Pytheas, the renowned navigator of Marseilles, in the fourth century B.C. He tells us that he sailed up the Baltic in search of the amber coast, rounding the cape of what is now called Jutland, and proceeding about 6,000 stadia along the coasts of the Guttones and Teutones. As the date of this voyage was about 325 B.C., the account shows that Goths and Teutons at that early time were known names for Northern races.
The relations of the Goths and the Vandals is important, and must be fully considered in reference to any part of Europe that was conquered and settled by the former nation, which was more advanced in civilization and the arts than their allies. The Goths invented runes, and so established among Northern races the art of writing, and they were skilled metallurgists and gilders. The Vandals of the Baltic coast whom they conquered were a less advanced people, but a lasting peace appears to have been formed between them, and to have been subsequently remembered in Northern mythology. The conflict of the Æsir and Vanir is a Northern myth, which, considered ethnologically, may be regarded as founded on the wars carried on between the Teutonic and Slavonic races. That between the Goths and Vandals was a war of this kind, and it resulted in peace and a lasting alliance. The myth of the conflict of the Æsir and Vanir also terminated in a lasting peace and the exchange of hostages between the contending races. The alliance between the Northern Goths and the Vandals and their combined expeditions can be traced in the Anglo-Saxon settlement and in the present topography of England. In many parts of our country Gothic and Wendish place-names survive near each other, side by side with Gothic and Wendish customs, There is, indeed, in England very considerable evidence afforded by the ancient place names that two of the great nations of the North in the fifth and sixth centuries—the Goths and Vandals—who played such an important part in the destruction of the Roman Empire and the occupation of large provinces elsewhere, took part in the invasion and settlement of this country. This evidence is confirmed by the survival of customs among the English settlers, some of which have come down to our time, and for their remote origin may be traced to Goths, or to Vandals. Both these Northern nations were maritime people. The Baltic Sea was called in ancient time the Vendic Sea, after the Vandals, as the Adriatic Sea is called the Gulf of Venice after them to the present day. The conclusion, therefore, appears unavoidable that, under the general names of Saxons, Angles, and Jutes, some Goths and Vandals, as will be shown more fully in succeeding chapters, took a considerable part in the invasion and settlement of England. Later on, during the Viking Age, the Vikings of Denmark and Norway often acted in alliance with the Wendish Vikings of literature, and the occurrence in close proximity, in various parts of England on or near the coast, of Wendish place-names and Scandinavian place-names, which mark the settlements of these allies. Not infrequently, also, near such places the survival of characteristic Norse and Wendish customs can be traced.
There is evidence of the large immigration of settlers of various tribes from Scandinavia to be found in remains of their speech. The dialects which the Northmen introduced into England, both during the earlier settlements of Goths and Angles and the later settlements of Danes, certainly formed the basis from which some of the dialects spoken in many parts of England were formed. Skeat has pointed out that when Icelandic became a written language in the eleventh century, an interesting statement in regard to English and the language of the Northmen was made by Snorri Sturluson, the author of the Icelandic alphabet and its earliest literature. ‘Englishmen,’ he says, ‘write English with Latin letters such as represent their sounds correctly. Following their example, since we are of one language, although the one may have changed greatly, or each of them to some extent, I have framed an alphabet for us Icelanders.’ There is a statement also in the Saga of Gimlaugr Ormstunga that there was the same tongue used at the time the Saga was written—the eleventh century—in England, Norway, and Denmark. This was the age of William the Conqueror, who was desirous that his own son Richard should learn the Old Danish language, no doubt with some political or administrative object in view, and we are told that he sent him for this purpose to Bayeux, where the Old Northern speech still lingered, although it had died out at Rouen.
As the Jutes who settled in England were neither Norse nor Danes, as known at a later period, they must, by the evidence of the runic inscriptions found in Kent, have been either of the Anglian or Gothic stock. In the time of Pytheas—fourth century B.C.—and in that of Ptolemy—second century A.D.—the Goths, as already mentioned, occupied a region on the east of the Baltic. Their name is lost there, but survives in Gotland Isle and Gothland in Sweden. Tradition ascribes the Baltic area as their original home, and in any case they must have been settled along its coasts at a very early period. The old name Uuitland for a part of the east coast of the Baltic reminds us of the Jutes, for Uuit is probably a modified form of Jute or Jewit, and in the Jutish parts of England, as in Hampshire, we meet with Uuit or Wit names, as Wihtland for the Isle of Wight. The identity of some of the Jutes with the Goths is shown by the similarity of the name, and its ancient occurrence on both sides of the Baltic Sea; in the similarity of customs, as will be described later; and in historical references, such as that of Asser, who, in telling us that King Alfred’s mother was descended from the Goths and Jutes, practically identifies them as being at one race. In the survival of monuments with old Gothic runes in Kent we have corroborative evidence.
Beddoe refers to the similarity of the place-names in many parts of England, and says: ‘The patronymical names and other place-names in Kent and other parts of England forbid us to imagine an exclusive Jutish nationality.’ The evidence of Goths and Frisians in Kent, and of settlers of the same nationalities in many other parts of England, appears to afford a solution of the question who the people called Jutes in Kent or in Hampshire really were—i.e., mainly Goths or of Gothic descent.
The part which the nations of the Baltic took in the conquest and settlement of England has been underrated. With such a great centre of commerce and shipping as existed at Wisby, although smaller than it afterwards became, it is unreasonable to doubt the connection of the Goths with many of these maritime expeditions, if only as carriers. The time of the settlement of the Isle of Gotland is lost in antiquity. The only record of its remarkable history is the ‘Gotlands lagaene,’ which is thought to be a supplement to the ancient laws of the country. This is supposed to have been written about A.D. 1200, and preserves in the old Gotlandish language laws that are apparently of a much earlier date. The discovery of so many Roman coins in the island shows that its commercial history is older than the time of the English Conquest. Whatever it was at that time—and relatively to most other ports it must have been great—Wisby became in the tenth and eleventh centuries a place of almost fabulous wealth. As regards the ancient homelands of the Goths in Sweden, the evidence of communications with Anglo-Saxon England is direct. In the south of the Scandian peninsula is a province now called Carlscrona, whose ancient name was Blekinge, under which name it is mentioned by King Alfred in his ‘Orosius.’ Stephens tells us of runic stones that have been found in Bleking, and on the authority of Elias Fries of Upsala he states they are said to be in Anglo—Saxon. When we consider that there is historical evidence of the missionary labours of Englishmen among the heathen Goths of the South of Sweden, it will not appear surprising that inscriptions in Anglian runes should be found there. The church of Lund, the mother—church of that part of the country, was founded by Englishmen early in the eleventh century, according to Adam of Bremen. Lund was the capital of this part of the peninsula, a city of great extent, of great antiquity, and one which enjoyed a high prosperity as early as the ninth century. Blekinge is mentioned as Blecinga-ég, or the Isle of the Blekings, by King Alfred, repeating the description of Wulfstan of his voyage up the Baltic. ‘We had,’ he says, ‘first Blekinge, and Möen and Eowland, and Gothland on our larboard (bæcbord), and these lands belong to Sweden; and Wendland was all the way on our starboard as far as the mouth of the Vistula.’ These on the larboard were, without doubt, homelands of some of the early people of the Jutish or Gothic race. There is other evidence of early communications between England and Scandinavian. At Skaäng, in Södermanland, Sweden, there is a runic inscription on a stone of peculiar interest, from its association with England. It has the English sign (⁊) for the word and. This, Stephens tells us, is distinctly English, and only English, in its origin, so that inscriptions having it show English influence of some kind. In considering this he regards it as evidence of early literary communications between the English settlers and their Continental kindred. We should remember also that this Old English sign abounds in Domesday Book. Stephens says: ‘The Saxon and German pagans got their writing-schools as well as their Christianity and culture of movements, direct and indirect, chiefly from England and Anglo- Keltic lands, whose missionaries carried their runes with them, partly for secret writing, and partly for use in Scandinavia.’ It is the evidence of the runes that shows the Scandian origin of the Anglians who settled in Northern England. Stephens’ last words on this subject are: ‘I beg the reader carefully to ponder the following remarkable and interesting and decisive facts in the list showing the numerical result (of runic discoveries) in every class up to June, 1894. It is: in Scando-Anglia, 10,423 runic remains; in Germany, Saxony, and elsewhere, 19 as wanderers.’
The Northmen of the Anglo-Saxon period were certainly people of many tribes. The name included all the inhabitants of the Northern peninsula as well as the Danes. It was not confined in its meaning like the later name Norse. In Sweden there were the ancient provinces of Hallaud, Skäne, Bleking, Smaland, Södermanland, Nebrike, Vermland, Upland, Vestmanland, Angermaneland, Helsingland, Gestrickland, Delarna, Eastern and Western Gotland, and others. Vermland, which had been part of Norway, was added to Sweden after 860. In Norway there were the tribal provinces or districts of Nordrland. Halgoland, Ranmerike, Heredaland, Hadeland, Rogaland, Raumsdel, Borgund, Viken, and others.
People of these provinces or tribal districts were all Northmen, as understood by the early settlers in England. and in the parts of our country where Scandinavians made colonies some of these tribal names may still be traced, It is certain also that the inhabitants generally of the coast of Norway and the shore of the Baltic were called Lochlandach or Lakelanders, and traces of them may perhaps be found in England under names derived from this word. ‘Few and far,’ says Stephens, writing of the tribes of Scandinavia, ‘are the lights which glimmer over the clan lands of our forefathers. . . . We may learn a little more in time if we work hard and theorize less. But whatever we can new master as to the Old Northern language we have learnt from the monuments. Those, therefore, we must respect at all hazards, whatever systems may have to give way, even though the upshot should be that much of our boasted modern philology. with its iron laws and straight lines and regular police-ruled developments, is only a house built upon the sand.’
The Northern dialects, as introduced into England from the fifth and tenth centuries, may have differed, in some respects, from the Icelandic or Old Northern tongue as written in the eleventh century. Hence the great value of the earliest runic inscriptions as evidence, so far as they go, of the earliest meanings of some words that afterwards were used in Old English. In considering this probable change, Stephens tells us that the only corruptors of dialects he knew were those ‘who improve Nature, by writing them not as they are, but according to their nations of what they ought to be—i.e., in accordance with rules of grammar derived from other languages—for instance, the peculiar and comparatively modern Icelandic, with which they may be acquainted.’
As the name Northmen was a general one, which included the different tribal people of Scandinavia, so the name Eastman appears to have also been a general name for the people of the Baltic region on the opposite shores to those of Sweden. With the Angles and Goths of the early period of the Anglo-Saxon settlement some people of the Norse race, afterwards so called, may well have been included. The earliest English coins found in Norway are of the period when the Norse began their Viking expeditions to the British shores. They comprise coins of Kewulf of Mercia, 796-819, Ceolwulf his son, 819-821, and Northumbrian coins of about 803-840.
From the results of the researches of many archæologists, historians, and philologists, both English and Scandinavian, we are led to the conclusion that the Northmen of various tribes and nations had a greater share in the settlement of England than has commonly been attributed to them. Stephens assigns them a very large share indeed, and his great work on the ‘Old Northern Runic Monuments’ attests his vast research. He says: ‘Anglic Britain was chiefly planted by Northmen in the second and following centuries, and was half replanted by them in the ninth and tenth.’ Whatever may have been the date of their earliest settlements, Northmen were certainly among both the earlier and later ancestors of the Old English.
THE ANGLES AND THEIR ALLIES.
The Angles are first mentioned by Tacitus under the name of Angli in connection with another tribe, the Varini. From the third to the fifth century we hear nothing of the Angli. In the time of Bede they reappear as the Angles in a new country. The part they are said to have played in the settlement of England is very large, all the country north of the Thames, except Essex, being supposed to have been occupied by Angles. The district in North Europe that bore their name is very small—Anglen, a part of Schleswig. There is evidence, however, that they were more widely seated, occupying a large part of the south of the Danish peninsula, some at least of the Danish islands, and part of the mainland of Scandinavia. The Angles were certainly closely connected to, or in alliance with, the Warings, the Varini of Tacitus, and this was long continued. In the time of Charlemagne we read of a common code of laws sanctioned by that King, called ‘Leges Anglorum et Werinorum,’ the laws of the Angles and Warings. The Angle country on the mainland of Northern Europe touched the Frisian country on the west, that of the Saxons on the south, and that of the Wendish tribes of the Baltic coast on the east. Their immigration into England was so large, and the area of the country they occupied so much greater in extent than their Continental homelands, that we are led, as in the case of the Saxons, to look for a confederacy, or an alliance of some kind, under which people of various tribes joined the Anglian expeditions.
That the names Saxons and Angles were understood in a composite sense in the time of Bede is evident from his writings. In narrating some events connected with missionary undertakings, he says: ‘About that time the venerable servant of Christ and priest, Egbert, proposed to take upon himself the apostolic work to some of those nations that had not yet heard it, many of which nations he knew there were in Germany, from whom the Angles and Saxons who now inhabit Britain are known to have derived their origin, for which reason they are still called Germans by the neighbouring nation of the Britons. Such are the Freesons, Rugians, Danes, Hunni, Old Saxons, and the Boructarians.’ From this we learn that some of the people who settled in England under the names Angles and Saxons were of Danish origin. The country of the Continental Angles was close to the Danish islands, and, independently of any historical statement of the fact, it would be reasonable to suppose that the confederacy of which the Angles formed the chief part would for the purpose of their settlement in England include some of their neighbours, the Danes. Bede’s statement shows that this actually was the case, and is proof that there were Danes settled in England under the name of Angles or Saxons before the Danish invasions began about the end of the eighth century. In considering Bede’s reference to Germans, we should remember also that the name Germany in his time was understood probably in that wider sense in which it was understood by King Alfred—viz.; as extending from the Danube to the White Sea.
The Warings, whose name is coupled with the Angles by the early writers, were a people located on the south-west coast of the Baltic. From the first mention of them to the last we find them associated with the Angles, and as these accounts have a difference in date of some centuries, we may feel sure that the connection was a close one. Procopius tells us of Varini who were seated about the shores of the northern ocean, as well as upon the Rhine, so that there appears to have been a migration at an early date. Beddoe has remarked that ‘the limits of confederacies like those of the Franks, Saxons, Frisians, and Angles, who seem sometimes to have included the Warini, varied from time to time, and by no means always coincided with the limits of the dialects.’ This is an important consideration, for we find in the Frank confederation Franks who spoke a German tongue and others who did not, and it may have been the same in the confederated Angles and Warings. The Angles were a Teutonic race, and the Warings were probably a mixed one. In one of the Sagas they are mentioned as Wærnas or Wernas. Tacitus, who does not appear, however, to have visited their country, mentions them as a German nation. The Warings were one of the early commercial nations of the Baltic, and traded to Byzantium, going up the rivers of Slavonia in small barks, and carrying them across from river to river. The last mention of them is in 1030. By the early Russians they were known as Warings, their country as Waringia, and the sea near it as the Waring Sea. In Byzantium they called themselves Warings. They were in later centuries much mixed up with the Norsemen, and this infusion became stronger and stronger, until they disappeared as a separate nation. It was chiefly men of this race who in the eleventh and twelfth centuries enlisted in the military service of the Byzantine Emperors, and were known in Constantinople as the Varangian guard, and in this corps there were also some Old English, a circumstance that points to connection in race. The Billings are said to have been the royal race of the Warings, and it is probable that under this designation some of these people may he traced among the old place-names in England. The western part of Mecklenburg was long known as the Mark of the Billings. The name Wæring occurs in Scandinavian runic inscriptions. In one found at Torvic, Hardanger, Norway, the inscription reads, ‘Læma (or Læda) Wæringæa’—i.e., ‘Læma (or Læda) to Wæring,’ as if intended to be a monument to one who bore the Waring name.
The district called Anglen in the time of the Saxons is on the south-west of Sleswig, and is bounded by the river Slie, the Flensborger Fjord, and a line drawn from Flensborg to Sleswig. This district is small, not much larger, as Lutham has pointed out, than the county of Rutland. Bede tells us that it had by the emigration of its inhabitants become deserted. Such a small district alone was not, however, likely to have been the mother-country of a large emigration across the North Sea for the occupation of a conquered country so large as England. Of course, the Anglen of Sleswig must have been a part only of the country from which the Angles came. That a population sufficiently strong to have largely conquered and given a name to England, and sufficiently famous to have been classed by Ptolemy among the leading nations of Germany, lived in so small an area is extremely unlikely. We must therefore conclude that the Angles extended over a larger area and that in the invasion and settlement of England their name was used as that of a confederacy which included Warings. There remains, however, the statement of Bede concerning Anglen. Its abandoned condition at the time he wrote is not improbable, but there is another explanation, as Latham has pointed out, which helps to account for its deserted state—viz., because it was a frontier land or march between the Danes and Slavonians (or Wends) of the eastern half of Holstein. Many frontier lands of a similar kind have become deserted from a similar cause, and examples of this may be found in modern as well as ancient history. King Alfred. describing the voyager’s course in his geographical description of the Baltic, mentions Denmark and Gothland, also Sealand, and other islands, and says:—‘On these lands lived Engles before they hither to land came.’ This extract makes it quite clear that at the time he wrote it was understood in England that the Angles came partly from Old Denmark and Gothland, on the Scandinavian coast, and partly from Sealand and the Danish islands. as well as from Sleswig. This identification of Gothland and the part of Old Denmark in Scandinavia, also the Danish islands, as lands from which the Anglian settlers in England partly came is of much importance. It helps us to understand the circumstance that a greater extent of England was occupied by Angles than by Saxons; that the predominant people gave their name to the country; and shows that there was a Scandinavian immigration before the eighth century. Our chroniclers have assigned a large territory in North Germany as the fatherland of the Saxons, but only Schleswig as the fatherland of the Angles. In this they certainly overlooked the statement of King Alfred, who had no doubt the best traditions, derived from the Northern countries themselves, of the origin of the race in assigning Gothland, Scandinavian Denmark, and the Danish isles as their homes. as well as the small territory of Anglen. Ancient Gothland occupied a larger part of Sweden than the limits of the modem province of the same name, and Scandian Denmark comprised Holland and Scania, now in Sweden. This great extent of country, with the Danish islands and the mainland coasts, would be sufficient to afford a reasonable explanation of the numerical superiority of the Angles among the English settlers. They were clearly people who formed a confederacy, as has been shown was the case of the Saxons, and these confederate invaders took their name from those who were the leaders of it. Even as late as Edward the Confessor’s time the names Angles and Danes were considered as almost the same. His laws tell us of the counties which were under the laws of the Angles, using the name Angles for Danes. That the name of the earliest Angles comprised people of various tribes is also certain from the words used by Bede in his reference to them as the peoples of the old Angles. His actual words are ‘populi Anglorum.’ These words occur in the account he wrote of the names of their months, and may be seen in chapter xv. of his ‘De Temporum Ratione.’ Bede has thus put it on record that there were among the ancestors of Northumbrian Anglians of his time peoples or tribes of Angles. That some of them were of Scandinavian origin is clear from the evidence already stated It is also practically certain from the information Bede gives us concerning the date at which these peoples of the ancient Angles began their year. This was the eight Calends January, or December 25, the night of which, Bede says, was called by them ‘Modranichte,’ or the ‘Night of Mothers,’ an ancient pagan name, the origin of which he tells us he did not know. The ancient Anglians thus began their year at midwinter, as the Scandinavians did. The old Germanic year, on the other hand, began at the beginning of winter, or November 11, later on known as St. Martin’s Day. From this difference in their mode of reckoning as compared with the Germans, and their agreement with the Scandinavians, it is very difficult to avoid the conclusion that the ancient Angles must have been more Scandian than Germanic, That the Angles and Danes were probably connected in their origin is shown also by the statement of Saxo, the Danish historian, who tells us that the stock of the Danes had its beginning with Dan and Angul, their mythological ancestors.
Runic inscriptions are an important source of evidence in tracing the migrations of the Northern Goths, and of the neighbouring nations who acquired their knowledge of runes from them. In Sweden, Denmark, and Norway there are on fixed objects thousands of inscriptions in this ancient alphabet. Similar records are scattered over the regions which were overrun and settled by the Scandian tribes. They have been found, on movable objects only, in the valley of the Danube, which was the earliest halting-place of the Goths on their Southern migration. They have been found also on fixed objects in Kent, which was conquered by the so-called Jutes, in Cumberland and other northern parts of England, Orkney, and the Isle of Man, where Norwegians formed settlements. They are found in Northuniberland, where the Anglians settled at an earlier period than that of the later Norse invaders. Runes may be classed in three divisions—Gothic, Anglian, and Scandinavian. The oldest may date from the first or second century A.D., and the latest from the fourteenth or fifteenth century. The runic alphabet is called the Futhorc, after the word formed by its first six letters. The Anglian runes are used on the Ruthwell Cross, and several other Northumbrian monuments of the seventh and following centuries. One of the earliest examples is on a sword found in the Thames near London, now in the British Museum. The Old English inscribed runic coins are scarce, and run from about the seventh to the first half of the ninth century, those solely in runic letters being outnumbered by others in which runic and Roman letters are mixed. From the circumstance of the discovery of inscriptions in runic characters in parts of England which were settled by Angles and Jutes, and not in those parts which were settled by Saxons, we are able to draw two conclusions: (1) That the settlers in Kent must have been near in race or allied to the Anglian settlers of Northumberland and other Anglian counties; and (2) that there must have been an absence of any close intercourse or communication, and consequently a considerable difference, between the Scandinavian Angles and the Saxons, seeing that the Angles were acquainted with the runes and the Saxons were not, as far as appears from the total absence of such inscriptions on stones or other fixed monuments in Germany, and in Wessex, Sussex, or Essex. The runic inscriptions found in England are marked by the Anglian variety of the letters.
From their original home in the North, the Goths went southwards, and carried their art of runic writing with them, leaving examples of it here and there in inscriptions on portable articles found in the valley of the Danube, written in characters which mark the identity of the people with those of Northern Gothland. From their Northern home across the North Sea went also the Anglians, neighbours and allies of the people of Gothland, and they also carried with them the art of runic writing, which they had learnt from the Goths in the North, to their new homes in England. Across the same sea went also the Jutes or Goths to Kent, and left there examples of the same general evidence of the Northern lands whence they came and of the race to which they belonged.
From the circumstances mentioned, it will appear that Anglen, on the east coast of Denmark, could have been only a small part of the country inhabited by the people called by the Anglian name at the time of the English settlement. As Stephens says, the names Engelholm and Engeltoft, on the Scandinavian coast or mainland, still remind us of the ancient Angles. That name, he says, was, as regards the English settlement, the first under which the Scandians were known. Later on they were called Vikings or Northmen, or Normans. They carried with them to their new homes their native civilization and many advantages in the knowledge of arts and arms. Stephens says that no runic characters have ever been discovered in any original German or Saxon manuscript. It appears certain that no runic stone or other fixed runic inscription has ever been discovered on German or Saxon soil. The ornaments of a personal kind which bear runic letters have been found by hundreds in the Northern lands, and those which have been found in Germany and other parts of Europe must have been carried there. Since the Anglian inscriptions found in England are in characters earlier than those which are called Scandinavian, they must have been written by people who came during the earlier immigration, or by their descendants. The Scandinavian runes discovered in England are chiefly inscriptions on objects belonging to, or made by, the men who came in during the so-called Danish or Viking period.
Many hundreds of inscribed stones have been found in ancient Germany, but they bear Roman inscriptions. The runes, consequently, afford us evidence in connection with the settlement of Angles in Britain of a kind which is wholly wanting in connection with the Saxons. As the total absence of runes on fixed monuments in Germany may be considered conclusive evidence that they were unknown to the German tribes, it is clear that these tribes could not carry them to England, and, as might be expected, there is, in the parts of England which were mainly settled by German tribes, a similar absence of runic inscriptions to that which exists in Germany. There is, however, a trace of some early inscribed stones in Wiltshire, which. according to Aubrey, were in existence until the year 1640. This is not improbable, but if Aubrey’s statement is correct the occurrence of such inscriptions may be explained by the existence of a settlement of Goths or other Scandians there, and we find other evidence, which will be stated later on, of such settlements in Hampshire, Dorset, and Wiltshire. On this subject Stephens quotes Sir R. Colt Hoare, who says: ‘At a place called the King’s Grave, where is now the Sheep-Penning of West Amesbury, Aubrey writes, “here doe appear five small barrows at one corner of the Penning. At the ends of the graves were stones which the people of late (about 1640) have fetch’t away, for stones, except flints, are exceedingly scarce in these partes. ’Tis said here there were some letters on these stones. but what they were I cannot learn.” ’
The inscriptions in runic characters of an earlier date than the ninth century which have been found in England cannot have been due to the invasions of the Danes and Northmen, and consequently they must have been the work of earlier Goths and Angles. That on the sword or knife discovered in the Thames near London has been assigned by Stephens to the fifth century. This points to the period of the settlement of Kent, and the earliest invasions of the Goths and Angles. A gold ring, which was found near Cöislin, in Pomerania, in 1839, and which bore a runic letter oi a specially Anglian or English type, is, according to Stephens, of the same period—viz., A.D. 400-500. He ascribes this rune ( (symbol characters) ) to English work, the letter being a variation of the Gothic rune ( ᛇ ), and its equivalence being the sound yo. With this single exception, this rune has only been found in England. This discovery, in conjunction with the inscription on the sword found in the Thames, tends to show that there was a connection between the early Gothic and Anglian settlers in England and the inhabitants of the Baltic coasts in the fifth century. The evidence afforded by the finding of runic letters of this early date at Cöslin does not stand alone; it is supported by that of the objects which were discovered with it. The ring was found with a bracteate bearing runic characters, five other bracteates without runes, and two Roman golden coins, one of Theodosius the Great (A.D. 379-395), the other of Leo I. (A.D. 457-474). This latter coin, therefore, assists in confirming the date of the objects as about the end of the fifth century. Stephens says: ‘This is one of the few golden bracteates we can date with some certainty from a comparison of the other gold pieces with which it lay.’ As is well known, the golden bracteates belong to a unique class of northern remains, and chiefly date from the early Iron Age in Scandinavia. They were generally shaped like coins, but were not used as coins, being intended for suspensory ornaments. They are of no common pattern, but differ much in size. weight. and other features. As they differed much in their design, so they differed in regard to having runes or not. The most important hoard of them found in England was discovered at Sarr, in Thanet, in 1863. These, however, had no runic letters on them. The evidence that Goths and Vandals or Wends were often allied cannot be disputed, and that there was some alliance and consequent intercourse between their respective countries and the settlements of the Goths in England the discovery of these objects with Anglian or English runes on the Wendish coast ncar Cöslin in the fifth century is good evidence. The discovery of an English runic inscription of such an early date in Pomerania is important from another aspect. It was found in what was Gothic and Vandal territory, and the connection of the Vandals with the Anglo—Saxon settlement rests on strong evidence of another kind. Cöslin, where the ring was found, is on the Baltic coast, east of Rügen Island, and nearly opposite to the island of Bornholm. This coast was in the third century of our era near the country of the Burgundians, before their great migration to the south—western part of Germany and to France. During the third and following century the Goths and Vandals acted together as allies in various expeditions. The Isle of Gotland, as proved by the immense number of Roman coins of the later Empire discovered there, was even at that early period a great commercial centre. The Vandals were also great navigators, and the so-called Angles were in all probability a branch of the Gothic race, certainly of Gothic extraction. There must have been communications between the Gothic northern ports and the English settlements, and the discovery on the sword in the Thames, and a similar discovery of English runes on a ring found near the Baltic coast of Pomerania, is not, considering all these circumstances, a matter for wonder.
In order to realize the full significance of the evidence afforded by the runic inscriptions and their connection with the settlement of England, it is necessary to look at it from several points of view: First, that runes were of Northern Gothic origin, and the Gothic Futhorc or alphabet is the earliest; secondly, that the Anglian Futhorc consists of similar characters varied from the Gothic; and, thirdly, that the Scandinavian has later additions. The evidence shows that Goths and Angles introduced the art of runic writing into England before the end of the fifth century. It is interesting to consider also the probable origin of the runic letters themselves. Isaac Taylor has proved that the early Gothic runes were modifications of the letters of the Greek alphabet, and were developed in Northern Gothland as a result of the commercial intercourse of the Goths across Eastern Europe with the Greek traders of the Levant. The Byzantine coins found in the island of Gotland certainly point to a trade of this kind at a sufficiently early period. Lastly, we have to consider the very interesting fact that when the runic letters which had been modified from the Greek were introduced into Britain by the Goths, these modified Greek characters which had come across Europe to the north, and thence to England, met there the letters of the Celtic or Romano-British alphabet. also derived from the Greek, but which had come there across Gaul from the Mediterranean through Roman influence.
The Warings, who were such close allies of the Angles, were certainly much concerned with the early commerce of the Baltic and the overland trade between the dominions of the Greek Emperors and the Baltic ports. Nestor, a monk of Kiev, who wrote in the eleventh century, mentions Novgorod as a Varangian city, and it is therefore concluded that there was at that time at large settlement of Varangians in that part of Russia. We learn, also, that there were Gotlanders in early Russia, and we know that the Isle of Gotland has revealed abundant traces of an ancient overland trade across that country. Another fact of interest concerning the later Warings is their possible connection with the Isle of Rügen, which, in the life of Bishop Otto, is mentioned as Verania and the population as Verani, who were remarkable for their persistent paganism. These references point, without doubt, to the connection of Rügen with Slavonic paganism, and to the Warings of that time as associated with it. There is, as already mentioned, another more ancient reference to them by Ptolemy, under the name of Pharadini, the root syllable Var or Phar being almost certainly the same. Their name also appears in that of the old river-name Warina, the Warna, which gives its name to Warnof, and in Warnemünde, both on the Baltic coast. Procopius mentions the Warings, and tells us of the marriage of a sister of one of the Kings of the East English with one of their Kings. These allies of the ancient Anglians have left their mark on the subsequent history of Eastern Europe. Their inﬂuence among the old Slavs of what is now Russia was great, owing to their settlements among them and the commerce through their territory with Byzantium. In Constantinople itself the Varangian body-guard of the Greek Emperors was of political importance. The tall stature of these men and their fair complexions excited wonder among the Greeks and Asiatics of that city. Their name in Constantinople became the Byzantine equivalent for soldiers of a free company. The body of Huscarls organized by Cnut in England was a counterpart of the Varangian guard. In physical appearance their allies the Angles must have resembled them. Even at the present day the stature of the people in the least disturbed districts of England that were settled by Angles is above the average. It was, however, among the old Slavs that their inﬂuence was greatest, for the Slav, moulded by the Varangian, and converted to the Greek Church through Byzantine inﬂuence, became the Russian.
The custom of disposing of the dead by cremation is so different from that of interment that where both prevailed there must in ancient time have been people of different races or tribes living in such a district. One fact which excavations in Anglo-Saxon burial-places proves beyond doubt is the contemporaneous practice of cremation and burial in various parts of England. In Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire, and Gloucestershire, evidence has been obtained that both practices went on. In some parts of Norfolk, Suffolk, and Derbyshire, cremation appears to have been the sole observance, as at Walsingham, and at Kingston near Derby. In the cemeteries of Kent and Sussex burial appears to have been almost the exclusive practice. Derbyshire is peopled by descendants of Anglians, according to the present physical race-characters of the people. A passage in Beowulf furnishes evidence of the practice of cremation among the Angles,—‘To make a mound, bright after the funeral fire, upon the nose of the promontory, which shall be for a memorial to my people.’ The pagan Anglians appear, from these discoveries and this passage, to have burnt their dead, as the pagan Esthonians did at a later period in the time of King Alfred. The custom among the Teutons thus appears to have been a Northern one, and Anglian rather than Saxon. From the evidence which has been obtained, cremation appears to have been practised in Jutland and the western part of the Danish isles about the time of the Anglian migration, while burial prevailed at the same time in Zealand and part of Funen Isle.