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in the Thames Valley
- In the early 5th century, Roman Britain was being attacked by Saxons.
They came across the sea
in ships from Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands.
- The Romans hired different
Saxons as mercenary
soldiers to help them fight off the attacks. A group called the 'Gewissae'
(pronounced Yoo-iss-eye) settled between the Roman town at Dorchester-on-Thames
(in Oxfordshire), near Long Wittenham, and the Berkshire Downs at
Blewbury. Their name means 'the trusted ones'.
- Then the Roman
Army left Britain. The Romano-British were left
alone to organise
their own defence.
- More Saxons moved up from
the coast and along the big rivers to settle in Britain. They built
new houses and villages
everywhere. They set up new kingdoms and took over the country.
- The Saxons sailed up the River
Thames and then the Loddon and the Kennet. The Romano-British living
at Calleva Atrebatum built big banks and ditches around their town at
Padworth. This was to try and keep out the Saxons.
- Most places in Berkshire have
Saxon names. They were either started or taken over by the Saxons. We
know the names of some of the early Saxon chiefs because of the places
named after them. Where do you think Reada, Sunna, Wocca and Aebbe
- The remains of most Saxon
villages lie beneath the houses in modern villages. However,
archaeologists have dug up Saxon villages at Sutton Courtenay and
were several wooden homes and small workshops called 'grub-huts'. They had floors and walls
dug into the ground.
- Photographs taken from the air
show where great halls of important Saxon chiefs
or kings once stood. These have been found at Long Wittenham and at
Drayton, next to the Saxon village at Sutton Courtenay. Archaeologists have dug up part of the harp of one of their minstrels.
- Some Saxons built their houses
around the ruins of Roman villas.
This happened at Barton Court Farm in Abingdon.
- Archaeologists have also dug up
important Saxon cemeteries at East Shefford, Milton,
Wittenham and elsewhere. Some important soldiers, chiefs and kings were
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