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The Saxons settle down in the Thames Valley
in the Thames Valley

Saxon Settlers arrive in Berkshire -  Nash Ford Publishing


  • 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 lived?
  • The remains  of most Saxon villages lie beneath the houses in modern villages. However, archaeologists have dug up Saxon villages at Sutton Courtenay and Radley. There 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, Abingdon, Long Wittenham and elsewhere. Some important soldiers, chiefs and kings were buried in mounds.

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