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The Saxons


The Saxons were a confederation of German tribes living in the north of Germany. In the early Middle Ages they expanded toward Great Britain and colonized large parts of it. A large part of the Saxons however stayed in northern Germany where they resisted the expansion of the Franks. Facing the Viking invasions the english realms (Saxons, Jutes and Angles) were unified during the period of Egbert till Alfred the Great and it became the Kingdom of England.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Regarding the emblem:

Lion.Kanzen suggested using an eagle as emblem, but I couldn't find evidence. (Perhaps you do Lion?)

I always thought that the symbol was (just like the Welsh') a dragon:


But something similar as this is also possible:


Edited by niektb
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New on the Portable Antiquities Scheme database last week was this highly stylised Anglo-Saxon eagle and snake mount from Dean and Shelton in Bedfordshire, probably dating to the later 6th century AD. Its significant not only for its beauty, but because, to my knowledge, only about five similar objects have previously been found in England (see below). Little animal plaques like this are generally found on shields, though the Portable Antiquities Scheme record raises the possibility that this one may have been for a belt.

In a bizarre coincidence, the publication of this find on the Portable Antiquities Scheme coincided, almost to the day, with the Museum of London announcing an astounding new Romano-British sculpture of precisely the same subject: an eagle clutching a snake.

The eagle clutching/devouring a snake motif was common in the Roman world. The quality of the statue is indeed remarkable, but its artistic merits are not the subject of this blog. My real interest lies in its relationship with the above Anglo-Saxon mount. These new finds, taken together, weaken the cultural disparity we usually perceive between barbaric Anglo-Saxons and civilized Romans. They provide a rare opportunity to make a direct comparison.

Of course, cultural continuity cannot be presumed purely on the basis of a common motif. Symbolic meanings adapt depending on context. So a statue of an eagle from a Roman mausoleum in Londinium would naturally have different meanings to a decorative mount for an Anglo-Saxon shield created 400 years later. Nevertheless, aspects of this symbol were probably shared. Whether or not the Anglo-Saxons of the sixth century AD used this icon in full knowledge of its classical ancestry is an important question. The question as to whether Anglo-Saxons even drew a fundamental distinction between their own culture and that of the late Roman Empire is even more crucial.

Weve probably heard enough about how, in the Roman world, eagles represented all that was aggressive, triumphant, honourable and good in the world, and how snakes represented the lowly, slithery, weak and vanquished. Rather than talk about Romano-British statuary, of which I know very little indeed, Id like take this opportunity to offer a few words on the symbolism of snakes in the early medieval world, to show that the this new mount does not necessarily provide a direct transposition of Roman symbolism, but a syncretic transformation of it, surely holding some of the old connotations, but having picked up many new ones too.

Eagles and snakes have a lengthy history in early medieval north-western European iconography. Contemporary eagle mounts like this one are known from Scandinavia, including contemporary examples from Skørping and Jelling in Denmark (Ørsnes 1966, figs.160 and 161), though both lack snakes. Other mounts like this are known from England. Theres a couple from Eastry in Kent, both of which are probably holding snakes, though the ornament is quite devolved (Dickinson, Fern and Richardson 2011, p.34, fig.33). Theres another matching pair from Eriswell, Suffolk (104,232, Dickinson 2005, 134, fig.12c and e). The closest parallel comes from Sutton Hoo (018,868, Dickinson 2005, p.119, fig.4d), which holds a figure-of-eight snake, very similar to this one. Theres another figure-of-eight snake cunningly disguised on the head-plate of this cruciform brooch fragment from the Portable Antiquities Scheme (LIN-58EC66, below). Look closely and Im pretty sure you can just make out an eye at the top.

One of the earliest examples of Germanic art, the Gallehus horns (now lost, probably from the early 5th century AD) featured quite a few snakes. Both snakes and birds decorate the helmet plates on the helm from Mound 1, Vendel, Sweden (for a picture, see here). Here, the snakes are trampled by the warriors horse, while birds soar overhead, apparently accompanying the rider in his triumph, in scene potentially analogous with eagle clutching a snake. Birds clutching snakes, however, seem to be restricted to those few mounts described above. Potentially, they were a strictly Anglo-Saxon phenomenon. Though their symbolism was probably linked to this wider world of sinuous symbols, these little mounts testify to at least a thread of continuity between the Roman and Anglo-Saxon worlds.


The Dragon is good option too, we can have both. One as banner and other as emblem.

Edited by Lion.Kanzen
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Beth Peters

Anglo-Saxon and Merovingian bird brooches. These were worn by women, often in pairs one above the other, to fasten the vertical front-opening on a gown. Each region produced its own variants of the bird brooch: note the sleek lines of the Anglo-Saxon birds on the left and the angular appearance of the Continental examples on the right. Continental birds always face to their left (the viewer's right), but Anglo-Saxon ones can face in either direction. The two birds from Kent have an animal motif


Edited by Lion.Kanzen
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The Saxons

When the Roman government of Britain collapsed in the early 5th century, the romanized native population struggled for a time to preserve its Roman way of life, but gradually this was sub­merged by invaders from the Continent. These invaders came from three powerful Germanic nations: Saxons from northern Germany and Holland; Angles from the south of the Danish peninsula, an area still known as Angeln; and Jutes from Jutland. At this time, the Migration Period, there were similar tribal movements taking place throughout Europe and it is probable that the Angles, Saxons, Frisians and possibly even the more independent Jutes were by this date more or less identified with each other, forming an Anglo-Saxon people of mixed stock but with a number of common characteristics. The invaders are thus usually termed Anglo-Saxons for convenience.

The first Anglo-Saxons to reach Britain came by invitation, possibly even before the Roman govern­ment had collapsed. They came in war bands, under their own chiefs, as mercenaries to help defend Britain against attacks from Ireland, Scotland and the Continent. These first small groups later combined into larger units and began to colonize Britain, sending word to their home­lands of the easy pickings. Larger-scale invasions followed.

The most important invasions by these mer-cenaries-@#$%-colonists were c. 440-460. Legend­ary leaders, such as Hengist and Horsa, employed originally by King Vortigern in the south-east to repel the Picts and Scots, soon rebelled against their employers and began to establish petty kingdoms. The native population put up a considerable resistance to the expansion of these kingdoms, particularly under such military leaders as Am-brosius Aurelanius and Arthur; but gradually, over a century and a half they were reduced to a subject people, or fled into the hills of the Celtic lands to the west and north. By the time of the Augustinian mission to England in 596 (felt necessary to rescue Christianity in what had now become a pagan landthe land of the English) the Anglo-Saxons controlled the whole of the south coast from Kent to east Dorset, from the east coast (from the Thames to the Humber) across to the lower Severn, modern Staffordshire, Derbyshire, most of Yorkshire, and part of Northumbria and Durham. There is much confusion over which tribes settled where, but broadly speaking the Jutes controlled Kent, the Isle of Wight and part of Hampshire; the East, West and South Saxons controlled Essex, Wessex and Sussex respectively; and the Angles controlled East Anglia, Mercia and Northumbria.

By the beginning of the 7th century there were about a dozen independent kingdoms, with the main power in Northumbria, and in the first half of the century the Northumbrian kings almost estab­lished themselves as permanent overlords for the whole of England. But in 658 the Mercians revolted and ended all hope of unity for another century. Gradually in the second half of the century the centre of power shifted from Northumbria to Mercia, with Essex, East Anglia and London being absorbed into that kingdom by 670. Sussex, Wessex and the Isle of Wight subsequently became subjected to Mercian rule and by the reign of Offa (757-796), the strongest of the Mercian kings, he was able to describe himself in one of his charters as 'King of the whole of England.

His successor died in 821 and there followed a series of campaigns by the king of Wessex, until all those lands formerly ruled by Mercia were subject to Wessex. From then until 1066, apart from twenty-six years of Danish rule (1016-42), the kings of the royal house of Wessex controlled a united Anglo-Saxon kingdom, though towards the end their grip on the reins was loosened by Earl Godwin.

In 1051 Earl Godwin and his sons rebelled against Edward the Confessor and were banished from England. They returned the following year and drove into exile many of Edward's Norman adherents (Edward was related to the Duke of Normandy through his aunt). Thereafter Edward's rule became largely nominal, and after the death of Earl Godwin in 1053 England was controlled mainly by his son Harold Godwinson.

Edward the Confessor died on 5 January 1066, leaving three contenders for the throne of England: William, Duke of Normandy; King Harald Hard-raada of Norway; and Earl Harold Godwinson. Harold had himself crowned the same day that Edward was buried: the scene was set for the final act in the formation of the English nation. Was the country to remain Saxon, or to come under the diametrically opposed influences of either Scandi­navia or Latinized Normandy? The decision, as we all know, was made in the early autumn of 1066, when the three cultures clashed at Stamford Bridge and Senlac Ridge.





Edited by Lion.Kanzen
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Saxons from HV: Total War


Cynges Þegnas or "King's Thanes"


Cynges Hearþgeneatas or "King's Hearth-Companions"


Ealdor Þegnas or "Elder Thanes"


Þegnas or "Thanes"


Sokesmen or "Sea Men"


Rideheres or "Cavalry"


Sceotanas or "Archers"


Geneatas or "Free Men"


Burgweardas or "Town Wardens"


Edited by Mega Mania
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  • 2 months later...



(Interesting, according to link 2 the dragon symbol had it's influences from the Far East)

Or better, make a white dragon with red background. That was the most widely used symbol among Anglo Saxon people. The red dragon was used by both Byzantines army and the Welshmen.

(The shield boss is to small, even according to your reference.)

Edited by niektb
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"Various accounts of the times record many battles between armies carrying the Celtic British Red Dragon Banner (now the Welsh Dragon) and the White Dragon Flag of the Saxons, Angles and Jutes (the English Dragon). The White Dragon was, and still is, the emblem of Wessex, the territory of the West Saxons and the English King, Alfred the Great."


(Just the homepage)

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