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  • Aelle, Sussex and Reference Stuff

    Prompted by my all too brief natter with Nick last night...

    Aelles Landing...

    This somewhat mythical figure is supposed to have landed at either at Selsea or Shoreham. The problem with the latter is that once ashore, the nearest decent defensive position is an old British hill fort far too distant from the port to be of use. Selsea at first glance also seems a dead end in terms of consolidating a landing.

    However...

    After some digging, I think I've unearthed the reason Selsea was the landing site and what put me onto it was the name... Selsea. Its an old English name derived from Sels-Eye, meaning Sels-Island. This got me thinking in that could this itself have been derived from (A)elles-Island, simply by the way its pronounced in English...

    Q = Whats that place called?

    A = It's (A)elles Island! = It'(s)elles-Island = It's Selle-sea


    ...as this is a very common occurance in British place names.

    Next I researched the actual place using various maps dating between 1600-1800. Here is what I found...

    The Roman Province.

    Note the Roman roads, shoreforts and ports.




    Modern Day Selsea.

    Fairly bland, featureless and seemingly indefensable.




    Selsea 1780.

    Note how the tidal range (thick blue line) now protects Selsea to the north and northwest, with the only access by road across a causeway in the north. Non-tidal marshland protects the western approach.




    Selsea Roman Period onwards.

    Here you can clearly sea that the tidal range (thick blue line) all but cuts off Selsea from the mainland, with no apparent clear land access route. This would make Selsea a very good defensable position with excellent harbouring.



    Coastal Changes...

    Now I've also considered why the Selsea, Pevensey and Thanet areas changed radically between the Roman/Anglo-Saxon period and the Medieval onwards period, in the context of their natural harbours silting up.

    It seems most likely that a combination of natural silting and longshore-drift was the main cause, with the latter forming over time extensive shingle banks in an eastwardly direction. These banks would retain any river silt and cause it to back up into the river system itself. The silting was most likely cased by a combination of removal of woodland and increased creation of farmland, which increased the natural water run off which itself took the top soil with it. Note that in the north and south downs areas the extensive chalk bedrock would have intensified this process as the topsoil would be a thin layer.

    The sum of these effects can now clearly be seen in that three former islands, Selsea, Pevensea and Thanet are now fully part of the mainland.

    Back to Aelle...

    It seems therefore that in our search for real dark-age history, full account has to be taken of conditions at the time.

    More on place names, cavalry, hillforts and loads of other stuff soon... possibly even Arthur

    Regards

    Gaz

  • #2
    Nice Gaz, Well done.
    BoRG
    "... and that was the last time they called me Freakboy Moses"

    Comment


    • #3
      Part two...

      Coastal Defence.

      During the 3rd Century the various Forts of the Saxon Shore were constructed to protect the coast of Britannia against various Saxon and Frankish pirates and raiders. In the 4th Century the Classis Britannica adopted a similar role in conjuction with the forts, though by that time the type and number of raiders and pirates had expanded.

      So far, recent archeology has uncovered evidence that...

      Portus Adurni
      Dubris
      Rutupiae

      ...had facilities sufficient to support substancial late Roman fleets.


      I would suggest though that given the likely scattered nature of pirating, the fleet was based in the various naval facilities that seemed to (now) be linked with the forts. This (as mentioned in a previous reply) would allow these defence fleets to have an interception radius of around 50 miles in one days sailing, assuming they started in port and stayed in coastal waters.



      This system would give comprehensive coastal coverage from the Wash in the north down to the Solent in the south west. I would also suggest that given the location of each fort, in relation to the coastline at that time, that all would have had fleet support facilities on hand at a significant level.

      With me so far?

      Breakdown.

      We now come to the literal breakdown of the system, which most likely came about through lack of money after Imperial support was withdrawn in the early 5th Century.

      Initially though the majority of the defences would be active, but as the decades passed into the second half of the 5th century, its likely they degraded from the extremities inwards.

      Evidence supporting this can be found in the early Saxon place names in various parts of southern Britain, which are linguistically distinctive from the later Anglo-Saxon/English names that appeared from the late 6th century onwards. If you look at the above map, you will see the early place names, and thus early Saxon enclaves that started to appear from around 475AD onwards.

      Even a quick look highlights some interesting points...

      1. The thickest concentration is in roughly the same area as modern Sussex, and stretches from the Portsmouth area east to Romney.

      2. That very often, these new Saxon enclaves were set up within (literally) spitting distance of most of the shore forts.


      Now lets deal with the latter and deal with things Aelle later.

      Spitting Distance.

      It seems at first strange that the new invaders enclaves are very often quite close to the defending forts, but this if you consider it is self explanatory.

      First consider that the very existance of the enclaves suggests that both the forts and their linked fleets had stopped functioning in that area, and the logical conclusion is that (for various reasons) the garrisons and ships had gone.

      Secondly consider that the very reason the forts were placed where they were was to protect valuable areas, either in terms of sea trade and/or land resources. You might say that with hindsight, the forts were literally signposts for the invaders to follow to the best real estate to invade!

      Example...

      Maldon in Essex and the Blackwater estuary are perfect examples. Initially the large inland water area and the ports at Colchester and 'Chelmsford' were protected by the Othona fort and its fleet at Bradwell. Yet in this early period, most likely still in the late 5th century, two new enclaves were established at Maldon (the area of Chelmsfords port) and at Brightlingsea (covering Colchesters port at Hythe).


      The Maldon enclave was on the mainland and quickly became a significant settlement and port, whose influence then spread south and east along the Dengie peninsular. Incredibly, this new settlement was 10 miles inside the waters protected by Othona fort. The inference is clear I feel that by the late 400's, Othona had gone out of use and its fleet was gone.

      This is just one clear instance of many which show that in this early period of Saxon encroachment, the coastal defence system had all but vanished. Now if this is true, its effects would be catastrophic in terms of trade and monetary income for what was left of the now isolated province. Even worse, its clear from just the Maldon example alone that in certain areas, the sea invaders were free to land and settle as they pleased.

      In reference to...

      Although I feel the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and Gildas are suspect references for this early period in terms of specific detail, as general reference points we can still assess their usefulness.

      First then compare Gildas brief history of the post Imperial period, where he infers that parts of Britiannia were becoming indefensable because of attacks by the Irish and the Picts. Now if you add this to Saxon incursions at the same time along the south and east coasts, its clearly understandable why the situation could not be retrieved by any (then future) Imperial intervention.

      Britannia was literally on her own for good, you might say...

      Secondly take into account what the ASC has to say about Aelle (damn him) and the situation in Sussex. Now given the other incursions in and around other shore fort areas, Aelle moving to (eventually) take Pevensey becomes far more reasonable, especially if as with the other forts its specific functions had all but ceased.

      So there we have it for now...

      All comments welcome. I'll post on things Sussex soon.

      Regards

      Gaz

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by allsirgarnet View Post
        Prompted by my all too brief natter with Nick last night...

        Aelles Landing...

        This somewhat mythical figure is supposed to have landed at either at Selsea or Shoreham. The problem with the latter is that once ashore, the nearest decent defensive position is an old British hill fort far too distant from the port to be of use. Selsea at first glance also seems a dead end in terms of consolidating a landing.

        However...

        After some digging, I think I've unearthed the reason Selsea was the landing site and what put me onto it was the name... Selsea. Its an old English name derived from Sels-Eye, meaning Sels-Island. This got me thinking in that could this itself have been derived from (A)elles-Island, simply by the way its pronounced in English...

        Q = Whats that place called?

        A = It's (A)elles Island! = It'(s)elles-Island = It's Selle-sea


        ...as this is a very common occurance in British place names.

        Next I researched the actual place using various maps dating between 1600-1800. Here is what I found...

        The Roman Province.

        Note the Roman roads, shoreforts and ports.




        Modern Day Selsea.

        Fairly bland, featureless and seemingly indefensable.




        Selsea 1780.

        Note how the tidal range (thick blue line) now protects Selsea to the north and northwest, with the only access by road across a causeway in the north. Non-tidal marshland protects the western approach.




        Selsea Roman Period onwards.

        Here you can clearly sea that the tidal range (thick blue line) all but cuts off Selsea from the mainland, with no apparent clear land access route. This would make Selsea a very good defensable position with excellent harbouring.



        Coastal Changes...

        Now I've also considered why the Selsea, Pevensey and Thanet areas changed radically between the Roman/Anglo-Saxon period and the Medieval onwards period, in the context of their natural harbours silting up.

        It seems most likely that a combination of natural silting and longshore-drift was the main cause, with the latter forming over time extensive shingle banks in an eastwardly direction. These banks would retain any river silt and cause it to back up into the river system itself. The silting was most likely cased by a combination of removal of woodland and increased creation of farmland, which increased the natural water run off which itself took the top soil with it. Note that in the north and south downs areas the extensive chalk bedrock would have intensified this process as the topsoil would be a thin layer.

        The sum of these effects can now clearly be seen in that three former islands, Selsea, Pevensea and Thanet are now fully part of the mainland.

        Back to Aelle...

        It seems therefore that in our search for real dark-age history, full account has to be taken of conditions at the time.

        More on place names, cavalry, hillforts and loads of other stuff soon... possibly even Arthur

        Regards

        Gaz
        Great stuff .

        I now also concur with Selsea not Shoreham. Will reply more fully later .
        How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: http://grist.org/series/skeptics/
        Global Warming & Climate Change Myths: https://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

        Comment


        • #5
          Part three...

          Early Saxon Settlements.

          Took a while, but here are the main early Saxon enclaves, dating from around 460AD to about 520AD. Although there is a significant concentration in Sussex, its interesting that large parts of the coastline all the way up to Hadrians wall were settled. Those enclaves a little inland are invariably on the banks of or very near major rivers.

          Enclaves in Red, Saxon shore forts in Blue.

          Finally note (Nick especially) the small grouping around workington on the west coast!

          South...



          East...



          Northeast...



          North...



          More soon...

          Gaz

          Comment


          • #6
            Part Four...

            Overview.

            Todays global satelite view with the situation in Britannia around 500AD plus Roman settlements, Shore Forts and major resources.



            Regarding Aelle.

            The ASC mentions Aelle in three specific cases...

            477: Ălle and his 3 sons, Cymen and Wlencing and Cissa, came to the land of Britain with 3 ships at the place which is named Cymen's shore, and there killed many Welsh and drove some to flight into the wood called Andredes leag.
            485: Here Ălle fought against the Welsh near the margin of Mearcred's Burn.
            491: Here Ălle and Cissa besieged Andredes cester, and killed all who lived in there; there was not even one Briton left there.


            ...and I've mentioned earlier that dates so specific should be viewed with caution.

            What is useful I feel is the time frame overall, linked with the early Saxon settlement pattern mentioned earlier. Now if we are testing as to whether Aelle's ASC account is reasonable, then the easiest way is to walk it through and see what we observe. Here we have a map with the starting and finishing places...



            ...and you can roughly judge from the scale provided that Selsea is about 45 miles from Pevensey along the coast. At a comfortable stroll this would take the average walker about 3 days to do. And yet, according to the ASC the same feat, although in greatly diffirent circumstances took Aelle some 14 years. That poses the question as to why?

            Now on its own the above comparison makes no impact, but with settlement data added it makes more sense. One of the most interesting facts about that data, apart from the relatively large amount of early Saxon names is the corresponding virtual absence of British and Romano-British names in the same area, when compared to the rest of England. What accounts for this situation, especially in the light of the time scale of Aelles advance eastwards.

            To my mind one reasonable answer comes to mind in that unlike the rest of England where Saxon incursions added to the existing Romano-British settlements (by either newly establishing or renaming), those in Sussex completely supplanted and removed the existing places. By this I mean completely driving out/killing/enslaving virtually all the previously extant population, instead of as in (seemingly) everywhere else simply adding them to their own population. Now late Roman and early Frankish histories in Gaul support this when they mention British settlers moving south across the channel to northwestern Gaul.

            So far so good...

            We seem to have a reasonable explanation all except for time. However, look at what we have suggested. If the British population is fleeing or being removed, who then is left to establish all these new early named Saxon settlements? Certainly not just three Saxon shiploads of warriors! For permanant settlements that last you need women, children and skilled artisans and craftsmen. To my mind these can only have come from the same place Aelle and his ships came from.

            This then might be the key in that the reason Aelle took 14 years to travel 45 miles east to Pevensey was that along the way, he was repopulating Sussex as he went. Remember what the ASC says about Andredes cester...

            and killed all who lived in there; there was not even one Briton left there.

            ...for it says lived there. This if a fairly accurate description supports the fact that Aelles occupational tendency was genocidal in nature. If true it also might be why Alfreds historians marked him out as the first Bretwalda (even if he wasn't) amongst the many Saxon leaders all along the English coast at that time. What made him different and worthy of note was the way he occupied and settled in coastal Sussex.

            And so...

            To finish for the moment lets touch briefly on Gildas and things mythological. Its likely that Mons Badonicus was a real historical battle, and the problem has always been where was it and against whom? Now if we place the battle some time before 520AD, then common sense suggests that if it wasn't part of a British civil war, then either the Irish, the Picts or the early Saxons are most likely the enemy.

            Now if you agree this is fair, then look at those enemies for a moment and consider just where they are most threatening.

            With the Irish and Picts we can consider them as mostly raiders, so a battle within their raided areas is most likely. With the Saxons its a little different because in the main, they are looking to stay and settle. Therefore looking for a battle site here is more difficult, for it might be within and equally beyond their settlement areas/borders, depending on the situation.

            I would suggest that in this early period of Saxon settlement, from 460AD - 520AD, none af the above mentioned settlement areas contained forces that had either the military power, and more importantly the economic inclination to push into the heartlands of England/Britain. In all their cases, including Aelle, during this early phase of colonisation, staying near the coast was key to their success. The coast was a source of escape if needed, of trade and of colonists to boost the population over time. Pushing deep into the English heartlands during this time would be an act of lunacy... which brings us neatly back to Aelle.

            Badonicus.

            In all probability its very likely that this first Badon was fought either in the areas raided by the Irish and Picts, or in/on the border areas of an existing Saxon enclave along the eastern or southern coast.

            There is a slight possibility though that Badon took place deep in the English heartlands, but the balance of probability goes gainst this.

            ATM my own inclination and its nothing more is that this first Badon was fought against Aelle, by Romano-British forces under Ambrosius Aurelius, and took place either in Aelle's kingdom of Sussex or quite near it in Romano-British territory.

            Regards ands more soon...

            Gaz

            Comment


            • #7
              Ah! Well done indeed. Mr. Holmes has a competitor in analysis i see.

              Fine work.

              thanks

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Thunder Dome View Post
                Ah! Well done indeed. Mr. Holmes has a competitor in analysis i see.

                Fine work.

                thanks
                When Gaz gets going he can come up trumps .

                If you have a look at the second map and look at places that appear to be assocoiated with Aelle, we have Selsea island, Chichester, Shoreham-by-Sea, South Malling (near Lewes), Alfriston (Aelle Fyrst Tun?) and of course Pevensey. Imo it appears is trying to control the South Downs, and the land to the south. His strategy also appears to be one of working west to east, not in the other direction.



                Pevensey is the right linch pin of this strategy, and if Badon does mean hillfort overlooking a bay, then I would still suggest Pevensey is the place we are looking for as the 12th battle of Arthur.

                If it does not, then I would suggest scanning the South Downs for a suitable Mons Bardonicus that perhaps ends Aelles career .

                Great stuff Gaz .
                Last edited by Nick the Noodle; 04 Mar 10, 12:37.
                How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: http://grist.org/series/skeptics/
                Global Warming & Climate Change Myths: https://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

                Comment


                • #9
                  Part five

                  Early Saxon Placenames.

                  Concerning names, a few thoughts.

                  Maldon in Essex got me thinking, because it (we believe) dates from the same time as the early settlements in Sussex. The name...

                  Maldon

                  ...derives from...

                  Mael-dun

                  ...and translates as meeting place on the hill. So far so good.

                  Now if we presume that Baedon is a similar constructed early Saxon word, it leads us neatly to...

                  Bath-Hill

                  ...and this is where the problems start in that the logical assumption is Bath (as in famous Roman Baths). The problem with this theory is that at the time between 460AD - 520AD, the area in and around modern Bath wasn't at all likely to have recieved an early Saxon name, simply because there were no early Saxons there.

                  Maldon got its name because of the early pre 500AD settlement that grew around the hill meeting place. This exemplar and virtually every other early Saxon placename shows that places were only named in early Saxon because people lived there and named it. Bath or rather Bath-Hill/Bae-dun simply would not have had a chance to be named by the early Saxons.

                  Now the Anglo-Saxons/English called the place...

                  Ba­um, Ba­an or Ba­on

                  ...and this means 'at the baths' from which the modern name derives. IF the early Saxons had by some fluke named it Bae-dun, its unlikely the later ones would have renamed it. All in all the Bath as Badon doesn't stand up.

                  Mons Badonicus.

                  Here we have another problem in that those using the word Badon/Badonicus in later histories (Gildas), don't seem themselves to have known the meaning of the name! Let me explain. Gildas in using the phrase Mons Badonicus is, if we accept the early Saxon meaning, calling the place...

                  Bath - Hill - Hill/Mount(ain)

                  ...and this simply doesnt make sense if he knew the meaning. If he did, as a learned man he would just have said Badonicus, knowing it meant Bath-Hill.

                  So its a fair assumption that Gildas and later historians did not know the meaning of or the derivation of Badon/Badonicus. This is in itself suggestive because learned people of a certain culture usually know how words and names of their culture are derived, because those meaning define their culture. Can we then safely say that Gildas was not of the same culture as the name Badon, and then infer that quite possibly the name wasn't British/Romano and therefore as we suspect, early Saxon in origin.

                  Now the later Anglo-Saxon/English did of course name a place, at-the-baths (Bath) so its likely that the early Saxons could have used the word Bath in naming a place. However. The the naming of modern Bath derived in usage from it being a significant, unusual and still extant place from earlier times. It was in effect unique and the English name it recieved reflected that.

                  Now the name Bath-Hill is far more run of the mill in terms of its descriptiveness and this suggests to me a specially created placename for a specific occurance, such as a battle, or a local name for an unusual feature. Both of these present problems regarding history and geography in that Gildas (for example) refers to the name as if it was a famous battle (and we can assume place), and yet no such place name exits today (or even near it) in England.

                  What does all this mean?

                  Well something is definately amiss you might say. We have a Romano/British historian refering to a (likely) early Saxon derived place name (which he might have done since it was a triumph in his eyes), and yet no such early Saxon place exists today.

                  This to me suggests one of either two things...

                  1. The place was deliberately renamed in Anglo-Saxon/English times for some reason, possibly to erase the history of the battle place.

                  2. The place was little known at the time of the battle, and its name was purely descriptive along the lines of 'The bath hill'.

                  Now in the latter case any Saxon, early late or Anglo would have little or no reason to recall either the name of where the place was. At the time of the battle itself, the only interesting feature on the field might have been an old derelict Roman bath house that played no part in the action. Now if both of these concepts are accepted as fair, then the search for Badonicus cannot really be conducted in any other way that purely archeological terms and just as important, is most likely why its location is unknown to this day despite its importance.

                  Baedon - An encounter battle near an old Roman bath house on a hill, where the Saxon shield defence was eventually surrounded, overwhelmed and destroyed to a man. Unromantic I know but probably the truth. After the battle the Romano-British used the local Saxon name for the battle, but as time passed who could remember the location of this quite unremarkable place?

                  Badon remained, but no one could remember exactly where it took place because...

                  An odd inkling...

                  In 1999 Time Team excavated a large Roman bath house, almost forgotten and hidden in thick woodland on the upper reaches of a hillside north of Hastings. Nothing remarkable in that fair enough, but a few hundred yards to the southwest lays the main Roman road to Hastings from Battle and just as importantly, the heart of the Roman/Post Roman Iron industry in southern Britannia.

                  Shows how things fit if you want them too!

                  More soon.

                  Gaz

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Beauport Park was at one time the 3rd largest ironworks in the Roman Empire, but declined from 250AD onwards.

                    http://www.wealdeniron.org.uk/hist.htm

                    Anyone know what Beauport Park was originally called ?
                    Last edited by Nick the Noodle; 05 Mar 10, 13:51. Reason: Asking question.
                    How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: http://grist.org/series/skeptics/
                    Global Warming & Climate Change Myths: https://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by allsirgarnet View Post
                      Part Four...

                      Overview.

                      Todays global satelite view with the situation in Britannia around 500AD plus Roman settlements, Shore Forts and major resources.



                      Regarding Aelle.

                      The ASC mentions Aelle in three specific cases...

                      477: Ălle and his 3 sons, Cymen and Wlencing and Cissa, came to the land of Britain with 3 ships at the place which is named Cymen's shore, and there killed many Welsh and drove some to flight into the wood called Andredes leag.
                      485: Here Ălle fought against the Welsh near the margin of Mearcred's Burn.
                      491: Here Ălle and Cissa besieged Andredes cester, and killed all who lived in there; there was not even one Briton left there.


                      ...and I've mentioned earlier that dates so specific should be viewed with caution.

                      What is useful I feel is the time frame overall, linked with the early Saxon settlement pattern mentioned earlier. Now if we are testing as to whether Aelle's ASC account is reasonable, then the easiest way is to walk it through and see what we observe. Here we have a map with the starting and finishing places...



                      ...and you can roughly judge from the scale provided that Selsea is about 45 miles from Pevensey along the coast. At a comfortable stroll this would take the average walker about 3 days to do. And yet, according to the ASC the same feat, although in greatly diffirent circumstances took Aelle some 14 years. That poses the question as to why?

                      Now on its own the above comparison makes no impact, but with settlement data added it makes more sense. One of the most interesting facts about that data, apart from the relatively large amount of early Saxon names is the corresponding virtual absence of British and Romano-British names in the same area, when compared to the rest of England. What accounts for this situation, especially in the light of the time scale of Aelles advance eastwards.

                      To my mind one reasonable answer comes to mind in that unlike the rest of England where Saxon incursions added to the existing Romano-British settlements (by either newly establishing or renaming), those in Sussex completely supplanted and removed the existing places. By this I mean completely driving out/killing/enslaving virtually all the previously extant population, instead of as in (seemingly) everywhere else simply adding them to their own population. Now late Roman and early Frankish histories in Gaul support this when they mention British settlers moving south across the channel to northwestern Gaul.

                      So far so good...

                      We seem to have a reasonable explanation all except for time. However, look at what we have suggested. If the British population is fleeing or being removed, who then is left to establish all these new early named Saxon settlements? Certainly not just three Saxon shiploads of warriors! For permanant settlements that last you need women, children and skilled artisans and craftsmen. To my mind these can only have come from the same place Aelle and his ships came from.

                      This then might be the key in that the reason Aelle took 14 years to travel 45 miles east to Pevensey was that along the way, he was repopulating Sussex as he went. Remember what the ASC says about Andredes cester...

                      and killed all who lived in there; there was not even one Briton left there.

                      ...for it says lived there. This if a fairly accurate description supports the fact that Aelles occupational tendency was genocidal in nature. If true it also might be why Alfreds historians marked him out as the first Bretwalda (even if he wasn't) amongst the many Saxon leaders all along the English coast at that time. What made him different and worthy of note was the way he occupied and settled in coastal Sussex.

                      And so...

                      To finish for the moment lets touch briefly on Gildas and things mythological. Its likely that Mons Badonicus was a real historical battle, and the problem has always been where was it and against whom? Now if we place the battle some time before 520AD, then common sense suggests that if it wasn't part of a British civil war, then either the Irish, the Picts or the early Saxons are most likely the enemy.

                      Now if you agree this is fair, then look at those enemies for a moment and consider just where they are most threatening.

                      With the Irish and Picts we can consider them as mostly raiders, so a battle within their raided areas is most likely. With the Saxons its a little different because in the main, they are looking to stay and settle. Therefore looking for a battle site here is more difficult, for it might be within and equally beyond their settlement areas/borders, depending on the situation.

                      I would suggest that in this early period of Saxon settlement, from 460AD - 520AD, none af the above mentioned settlement areas contained forces that had either the military power, and more importantly the economic inclination to push into the heartlands of England/Britain. In all their cases, including Aelle, during this early phase of colonisation, staying near the coast was key to their success. The coast was a source of escape if needed, of trade and of colonists to boost the population over time. Pushing deep into the English heartlands during this time would be an act of lunacy... which brings us neatly back to Aelle.

                      Badonicus.

                      In all probability its very likely that this first Badon was fought either in the areas raided by the Irish and Picts, or in/on the border areas of an existing Saxon enclave along the eastern or southern coast.

                      There is a slight possibility though that Badon took place deep in the English heartlands, but the balance of probability goes gainst this.

                      ATM my own inclination and its nothing more is that this first Badon was fought against Aelle, by Romano-British forces under Ambrosius Aurelius, and took place either in Aelle's kingdom of Sussex or quite near it in Romano-British territory.

                      Regards ands more soon...

                      Gaz
                      That satellite map does shed some intriguing points...

                      1. While the majority of the iron industry in Roman and post-Roman Britain was centered around the weald, iron mines could also be found in southern Wales in the vicinity of the Forest of Dean. While Aelle's conquest of the area would have certainly hurt the Britons' iron market, they could have still kept going with their western mines. Which they apparently did, since the settlements of Viriconium, Venta Silurum, Glevum and Corinium continued to be inhabited while Calleva, Spinae, and Londinium (close to the Weald ironworks) were abandoned about that time.

                      2. Even though the Britons in the south had access to safer sources of iron, tin and lead, the only source for grain that wasn't threatened by the close proximity of Saxons or Irish was located in the area north of Dorchester and Winchester, where we see the refortification of hillforts at nearby South Cadbury, Amesbury, and Badbury/Liddington occurring during the Vth and VIth Centuries. The Britons were putting up new walls to protect their lifeline, and if Aelle was settling a new population on the SE coast, he'd need to be able to feed all those new mouths. Of all the suggestions for a confrontation between the Britons and Saxons to occur, that area seems the most likely.

                      3. That same area occurs within a region where the Bad- or Baddan- suffix is common in place names, i.e. the Baddanbyries (Badbury Rings, Liddington/Badbury) and Baddon/CaerFaddon (Bath).
                      Let us to't pell-mell, if not to heaven, then hand in hand to hell!-Richard III

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Knight-Errant View Post
                        That satellite map does shed some intriguing points...

                        1. While the majority of the iron industry in Roman and post-Roman Britain was centered around the weald, iron mines could also be found in southern Wales in the vicinity of the Forest of Dean. While Aelle's conquest of the area would have certainly hurt the Britons' iron market, they could have still kept going with their western mines. Which they apparently did, since the settlements of Viriconium, Venta Silurum, Glevum and Corinium continued to be inhabited while Calleva, Spinae, and Londinium (close to the Weald ironworks) were abandoned about that time.

                        2. Even though the Britons in the south had access to safer sources of iron, tin and lead, the only source for grain that wasn't threatened by the close proximity of Saxons or Irish was located in the area north of Dorchester and Winchester, where we see the refortification of hillforts at nearby South Cadbury, Amesbury, and Badbury/Liddington occurring during the Vth and VIth Centuries. The Britons were putting up new walls to protect their lifeline, and if Aelle was settling a new population on the SE coast, he'd need to be able to feed all those new mouths. Of all the suggestions for a confrontation between the Britons and Saxons to occur, that area seems the most likely.

                        3. That same area occurs within a region where the Bad- or Baddan- suffix is common in place names, i.e. the Baddanbyries (Badbury Rings, Liddington/Badbury) and Baddon/CaerFaddon (Bath).

                        1. Aelle does not appear to have conquered the iron areas, only the area of the South Downs.

                        2. British fortification of Southern areas appears more in response to Cerdic who landed in Hampshire. Aelle almost certainly landed east of Cerdic and then headed further east, not west. In addition, if we are looking for a pre 500AD Badon battle then Aelle is probably the only real contender as an opponent.

                        DNA appears to state no settling in the area of new blood. He was simply taking control of what was already there, so no extra mouths to feed. Besides, the Channel can be used to fish, and his new territory's borders are close to 50% coastline .

                        3. Saxons could and did change place names in their own areas, so the Bad prefix/suffix comment is irrelevant.

                        However, leaving aside the Arthur side of the story for now, if we concentrate in this thread on what the Anglo-Saxons were doing at this time, possibly adding a thread for cerdic and Hampshire, we can build up a true picture of Dark Age Britain .
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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post

                          1. Aelle does not appear to have conquered the iron areas, only the area of the South Downs.

                          2. British fortification of Southern areas appears more in response to Cerdic who landed in Hampshire. Aelle almost certainly landed east of Cerdic and then headed further east, not west. In addition, if we are looking for a pre 500AD Badon battle then Aelle is probably the only real contender as an opponent.

                          DNA appears to state no settling in the area of new blood. He was simply taking control of what was already there, so no extra mouths to feed. Besides, the Channel can be used to fish, and his new territory's borders are close to 50% coastline .

                          3. Saxons could and did change place names in their own areas, so the Bad prefix/suffix comment is irrelevant.

                          However, leaving aside the Arthur side of the story for now, if we concentrate in this thread on what the Anglo-Saxons were doing at this time, possibly adding a thread for cerdic and Hampshire, we can build up a true picture of Dark Age Britain .
                          However, leaving aside the Arthur side of the story for now, if we concentrate in this thread on what the Anglo-Saxons were doing at this time, possibly adding a thread for cerdic and Hampshire, we can build up a true picture of Dark Age Britain

                          Good idea mate!

                          Occupation.

                          Been thinking about the Saxon (various continental peoples) occupation in reference to both the Roman and later Danish and Norman. One point thats often missed or ignored is that in general, the new people are often conservative in their actions unless they have at hand military forces large enough to handle any concievable situation they might meet. Its only in this latter case that military leaders conduct bold sweeping campaigns and take big risks.

                          In virtually every other case, the occupations are relatively slow and incramental in nature, simply because in terms of the actual occupation and its people, one miss step could be catastrophic for them. This is really common sense when you think about it because its rare for these occupations to have standing armies. Those that do rarely bring large masses of non combatant settlers with them. Those who rely on forces gathered from within the settling community have to be careful, because assembling any large force and moving away from the newly settled areas leaves them immensely vunerable.

                          So...

                          If we take the apparent early example of Aelle and the other Saxon leaders exclaves, their settlement pattern makes a lot of sense. They stay within a days march of either the coast or the inland waterway they most likely arrived at, because this area is a source of safety, reinforcement, new settlers, food, trade and where their valuable shipping would be moored.

                          Looked at in this light, any significant move away from these areas taking with them the native fighting men is asking for trouble.

                          If we look at the early Saxon settlement patterns its clear that from their positioning, the Imperial coastal defences established in the 3rd century, and the naval forces associated with them had gone. This too makes sense when you take a look at it.

                          Imperial Defence.

                          One of the concepts of the Roman defence of Britannia, and Gildas refers to this obliquely in his history section (of his sermon), is that as far as we know, Britain had no native armed forces while it was an Imperial province. It had the garrison legions, various auxilia and latterly the fleet(s). Its also clear that in the turbulent times during the 4th Century when these forces were often taken away for other uses (civil wars), no native British replacements were created. The province stayed weak defensively until the normal garrison returned.

                          In the later 4th century when the garrison was kept at a low level as the norm, the province (according to Imperial sources) was subject to increased external attacks and internal rebellions. In the latter case forces were sent from Gaul in the 390's to regain control of the north after the garrison there was destroyed.

                          Its just possible that this lack of regular Imperial garrison forces, plus the inhibition against raising local (British) defence forces and the unruly nature of Britain itself, was a major factor in the decision to abandon it around 415AD.

                          Post Imperial.

                          Now if the above is a fair assessment, then the post Roman defences of Britain should be easy to figure out in that initially there were none.

                          The regular garrison was we believe withdrawn along wth the fleet(s) as Imperial forces were consolidated to protect the continental Western Empire. The Imperial political and economic organisational structure was most likely also withdrawn (to safety). This leaves us with the following gaps...

                          No internal main garrison.
                          No northern wall defences.
                          No shore fort garrisons.
                          No coastal fleets.
                          No main tax income source.
                          No overall political control.


                          Leaving aside wishful thinking and the Arthurian mythos, this was likely the true state of Britannia around 420AD. Defenceless and lacking any government or overall economic organisation.

                          This then begs the question in that how were these to be either replaced or reactivated, especially when the external and internal threats Roman Britannia faced were still there. Theres also the factor of the (then)actual Romano-British culture and society itself. In terms of the military and defence, the natural inclination of Britons and Roman was far apart and this begs the question, would those who had the ability to raise military forces and/or rebuild the provincial structure in the early 5th century have wanted to do so? Futher more, since the Imperial organistion of Britannia province had been held in place by military force, could a Roman style provincial structure have been rebuilt and then maintained without that force?

                          Romano-British.

                          When we talk of things Romano-British in the 5th and 6th centuries, I think we have to be very careful of attributing structures, organisations and concepts to them that they were incapable of and possibly, natively inclined against. Why should we assume at all that in 417AD, the now free Britain, either individually or as a whole, would want to recreate in any way a Roman style province? That we always seem to do so is I feel a legacy of a few centuries of Imperial thinking, by which I mean education and the historical establishment teaching us that things Roman were great and that everyone in the past aspired to them.

                          Its pretty clear from even a brief fair look at history from the 4th century onwards that things Romanum were definately not aspired to be a great many of the (then) europeans, both those within and beyond the Empires frontier walls.

                          Why then should we assume that the people of Britain from 420AD onwards, being both of (mainly) British and mixed Roman-British blood and culture, would want at all to rebuild Britain along the previous Imperial Provincial lines. Further more, disregarding inclination for a moment, in the teeth of the still extant external threats, could they at all have rebuilt things to anywhere near where they were?

                          Gildas and Badon.

                          Gildas its pretty obvious looks back to the Roman era in Britain with rose tinted specs. Why he does so, as an educated man remains unclear though because it could simply be a desire for the return to a state of order, and thus dignity and respect, in his native country of Britain. Its a possiblity.

                          As to Badon, we might ask why it gained and still has the status it has today. This I feel is and was to do with culture and specifically native British culture. The more I read of it in the context of the time the more I feel it was iconic because it was unique and thats why its memory has stuck. Unique because it was the one battle in the post Roman Britain period where the forces of Britain alone, significantly checked and defeated the Saxon invaders. It came to represent the last gasp of freedom from external rule, that had been clearly shown against Caesar about half a millenia earlier during his abortive invasion.

                          This is not to belittle its significance though because the various histories, British, Roman, Frankish and even later Anglo-Saxon clearly show that for a time, a space of some 40-50 years, the various external threats to Britannia were virtually halted. That much is clear and thats why the battle is such an icon in that for a generation or so, it kept much of Britain free.

                          There is one caveat...

                          A fly in the Badonic ointment you might say. I can find no historical evidence so far, and Maldon and its environs in Essex seem to prove my point, no evidence that Badon reversed what had already been established. By this I mean that those Saxon/Invader enclaves established in the early post Roman period stayed and it seems flourished. This I feel is crucial in regard to what followed for two reasons...

                          1. The continual existance of theses eastern and southern settlements set as an example that the native British did not have the power to expel them.

                          2. These settlement areas acted as natural springboards for he expansion of later occupation into inland areas of Britain.

                          The latter is I feel significant because of what it implies. IF British force was inadequate to expel these early Saxon incursions, then later arrivals, adding to the already present Saxon strength, would have no inclination against pushing further in land because their bases of departure, the original early settlements, had been already proven as safe. Unlike the early Saxons who fought to maintain their foothold in Britain, the later waves of occupiers had no such worries. They knew their bases of departure had been secured, many probably then for a few generations of (now) English-Saxons. They knew they could not be pushed back into the sea and so in that light, they can take a few risks and push inland to capture valuable political and economic targets.

                          Its in that light that Gildas rant against the British kings in his sermon should be viewed, and in regard to why he mentions Badon at all.

                          Don't you get the feeling he knows that the tipping point is passed and that Anglo-Saxon England is a forgone conclusion?

                          Don't you also get a feeling of what we might call sour grapes, in that his rant refers to (obliquely) the fact that the English are successful in creating a new nation, whereas the the old British are only succeeding in losing theirs. This could be why he mentions Badon in passing in that he's suggesting that if the British could have got their act together, if (as he implies) they could have been more Imperial, more Roman, then perhaps things would have been different.

                          In this light...

                          Might it be that Gildas entire sermon is a whinge or rant over what might have been?

                          More soon...

                          Gaz

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by allsirgarnet View Post
                            More soon...

                            Gaz
                            Looking forward to it .
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                            • #15
                              Britain AD - Episode 3

                              About 15 minutes in is an immense survey of a dark age village in Yorkshire (actually c2000BC to c 8th Century). No invasion by the Angles?

                              http://video.google.co.uk/videoplay?...64794581858968
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