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Origins of Anglo Saxons

Anglo Saxon Chronicle

The Anglo Saxons group was a group of migrants who came from the northern regions of Europe and invaded British during the 5th and the 6th century. In the initial stages, the Anglo Saxons were a number of small groups and had their own areas in Europe and in Britain after the invasion.

Finally, between 924 to 939, that is, under the reign of King Ethelstan, all these small groups of Anglo Saxons all over Britain were brought together to form one political unit of the Anglo Saxons. Since then, the Anglo Saxons were dominant on entire Britain until the Battle of Hastings on 1066, where King of Anglo Saxons England, Harold II was killed by the Normans.

Thus, the Anglo Saxons were originally from the northern regions of Europe, that is, Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands.

Where were the Anglo Saxons Originally from?


It has been mentioned above that where are the Anglo Saxons originally from, but for some more information, there were three tribes which formed the Anglo Saxons. These three tribes, namely, Saxons, Jutes and Angles came all across from Germany, Denmark and Netherlands to invade British. This is something which is also mentioned in the “Ecclesiastical History of the English People” which was written by a monk, Brede from Northumbria and this book was written in the 8th century.

As mentioned by Bede,

“They came from three very powerful Germanic peoples, the Saxons, Angles and Jutes. The people of Kent and the inhabitants of the Isle of Wight are of Jutish origin and also those opposite the Isle of Wight, that are part of the kingdom of Wessex which is still today called the nation of the Jutes.

From the Saxon country, that is, the district known as Old Saxony, came the East Saxons, the South Saxons and the West Saxons.

Besides this, from the country of the Angles, that is, the land between the kingdoms of the Jutes and the Saxons, which is called Angulus, came the East Angles, the Middle Angles, the Mercians, and all of the Northumbrian people (that is those people who dwell north of the River Humber) as well as the other Anglian peoples. Angulus is said to have remained deserted from that day to this.”

Bede’s testimony which he presented in the 8th century was also supported by many evidences proving where did the Anglo Saxons originate from.

Since there were three different tribes, in the initial days of invasion over Britain, these three different tribes decided to settle down and reside at different places.

The Origin of the name “Anglo Saxons”

It has been mentioned above that the term Anglo Saxons means a collective term to represent the Saxons, the Jutes as well as the Angles.

Now, on checking percentage strength, the tribe Jutes were very less. As compared to the Saxons and the Angles, the percentage bore by Jutes were very less. Thus, since the most of all the groups are within Saxons and Angles, it was these two names which was merged together and formed the term “Anglo Saxons”.

Where did the Anglo Saxons settle?

After knowing about where did the Anglo Saxons originate, the invasion of Britain, it is now important to know where they settled. The three tribes of the Anglo Saxons settled in three different places and from the initial days itself, the settlement of the Anglo Saxons was scattered as they entered Britain by attacking from many sides.

The Jutes settled down in Kent. The Angles settled down in East Anglia. The Saxons settled down in Sussex (South Saxons), Essex (East Saxons), Wessex (West Saxons) and Middlesex (Middle Saxons).

Migration Path
Anglo Saxon Migratory Map

List of English words of Anglo Saxons origin

There is end number of English words which are derived from the Anglo Saxons origin. In fact, a greater percentage of these words are even used in the modern English language which we follow. Thus, if you want such a list, one can search it up on Google and find the words as it is practically not possible to mention it here.

Always, Bookworm, Cluster, Dimple, Earthing, Flash, Grasp, Heal, Indeed, Jaw, Key, Lava, Maze, Network, Own, Peak, Queen, Right, Share, Tall, Under, Vane, Wedge, Yard. These are very common words which we even use in today’s modern English. But all these words are from the Anglo Saxons origin. There is also a percentage of words which are not put to use now, are obsolete and of the Anglo Saxons origin, for example, Zax.

Anglo Saxons Chronicle in the Original Old English

The Anglo Saxons Chronicle is a record-keeping book and is a collection of many annals or recording of events year by year and written in the old English language. Only those annals used to be kept which will chronicle to the great history of the Anglo Saxons origin.

Alfred the Great while on his reign during the 9th century, made sure that the original manuscripts be created which are in reference to the Anglo Saxons Chronicle. These original manuscripts were probably brought to Wessex and was created.

From one single Anglo Saxons Chronicle, multiple copies were taken from and then distributed to all the different monasteries present in England. These monasteries then used to update the Anglo Saxons chronicle independently. It is also noted that the Anglo Saxons Chronicle was also being updated very actively till 1154.

What was the Language followed by the Anglo Saxons?

Anglo Saxons used to speak and communicate with each other mainly in old English, which is the ancestral member of the language we widely follow today, that is, modern English. The closest relatives to the old English were the other kind of languages followed by the Germans or in Germany, that is, Old Friesian, Old High German and Old Norse.

Literacy Level of the Anglo Saxons

The ratio of literacy was quite good of the Anglo Saxons. There were people who could read, write and speak. These are all the smaller reasons as to how there can be over 1000 books withdrawn from the Anglo Saxons time period.

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