Unstoppable settlers

During the sixth century, fresh waves of settlers encouraged further expansion inland, bringing the Angles into Essex and East Anglia to the north of the Thames, and it inevitably led to the expansion of VVessex at the expense of the Celtic kingdom of Dumnonia. In 501 the Saxon leader Port landed at Partes mutha (Portsmouth), w hile other conquests linked the coastal settlements of Wessex with those of Sussex. A victory over the Celts by Cerdic of Wessex in 508 established Saxon control over the New Forest area, although the Celts and Saxons were still contesting the region north of Southampton well into the 520s.

This was also the period of the semi-legendary Celtic warrior Arturus (Arthur), whose victory over the Saxons at Badon (c.516) halted any further Saxon advance for a decade. In 523 the Angles regained the initiative by seizing the coastal fortress of Din Guoaroy, renaming it Bebba's Burgh (Bamborough). This formed the center of the new kingdom of Bernicia. As these Angles fought their way south along the coast, a new territory named Dcira was established (from the term dere or "water dwellers"). Celtic resistance prevented any link between the Angles of Deira and those to the south until the later seventh century.

Other Angles continued to stream into East Anglia, which was divided into the lands of the north folk (Norfolk) and the south folk (Suffolk). To the west, West or Middle Anglia became Mercia as the Angles pushed west out of the fens toward the Trent. The river marked the border between the Celtic kingdom of Elmet and Saxon Mercia for much of the sixth century.

During the later sixth century the kingdom of the Middle Saxons (Middlesex) was founded in the Thames valley. This was significant, since it encompassed London, which finally fell to the Saxons during the middle of the sixth century. Control of London meant that the Angles and Saxons had a secure means of communication between both banks of the Thames, and consequendy all the Saxon territories from Mercia to Wessex. By the time St. Augustine arrived in Kent as a Christian missionary in 596, these Anglo-Saxon territories were seen as a unified kingdom, known as /Englaland.

Above: Gold belt buckle from Sutton Hoo, with the intricate decoration that became entwined with late La T£ne Celtic ornamentation.

Below: Saxon raiders of the 5th century.

Below: Saxon raiders of the 5th century.

Anglo Saxon Decoration
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