Some very rough history.
(This is going to be VERY rough.)
Draw a timeline with 500 year milestones.
Year zero or was it year 1?
We know that the Romans were around when Jesus was living under their rule. They came to Britain at about this time, so we can remember that they came here about 2000 years ago (because it is now over 2000 and our calendar starts from the birth of Jesus).
A bit of a blank. ????? Don’t know what happened.
Go Forward again.
1066 is a famous date because William the Conqueror came across from France to win the Battle of Hastings.
The reward for his victory over Harold was to be king in this land; so he was here about 1,000 years ago
Go Forward again..
Just a bit after 1500 we get King Henry VIII and all his wives, followed by Elizabeth I.
This is a nice 500 year milestone on the way to us.
Go Forward for the last time.
That’s us. Here we are today. (It’s a bit after 2000, but that doesn’t matter with history as rough as this.)
Let’s go back to that blank bit at about 500.
The Romans had been in this country for rather a long time, about 400 years. Imagine that ... Four hundred years! Today it would mean that they had arrived here just after the Tudors and they were only just thinking about leaving. They couldn’t last forever, so they went home to Italy. The people living here just carried on after they had gone, but it wasn’t the same.
What happened next has been very difficult for us to know, mainly because the Romans did lots of writing, so we know all about them, but the people in Britain who stayed behind, or who came here after them, wrote very little. From 400 to about 1,000 (that’s William the Conqueror on our scale) used to be called the Dark Ages because we were ‘in the dark’ about what happened.
But something must have happened in this 600 years gap?
The Vikings turned up in about 800, so that helps and now we are just curious about what happened between the years from
400 (Romans) to 800 (Vikings).
The story goes that just about the time that the Romans were leaving, seafaring people from North Germany, Netherlands, Denmark and even Sweden began to arrive here, to fill the gap that the Romans were leaving behind and as it was the North Sea that they were crossing, they arrived mainly at the East coast. Actually they began coming here whilst the Romans were still here. Their arrival wasn't an instant event (like the Normans at the Battle of Hastings). As usual, the first ones here were the men. Some were men looking for work and the Romans employed them. Then as the Romans were leaving more came, warriors, explorers, risk-takers who were looking to see what they could find, or steal, or maybe hoping to find good places to stay for a while. They came from different tribes. They were the Angles, Saxons and Jutes and their culture was different from the half-Romanised people already living here who were used to having an army to defend them (but an army that had just disappeared). It was a bit of a push-over for the tough men who could withstand the hardship of crossing the sea, so they stayed and sent home for their wives and children. Those that didn’t have such relatives looked around for local girlfriends and gradually they became established. They just moved in, without really asking. They weren’t polite. They were strong; sometimes they were looking for a fight and they were armed to the teeth. It’s difficult to say ‘No’ to such people. This is what was happening around the years 4 - 500.
Which countries did the invaders come from?
What were the countries called at that time?
Why did they stay instead of going home?
To find some answers find Looking at Lands in Digging Deeper at the top of the page.
Gradually the country was divided up into different areas and each had a king.
This area was controlled by the East-Angles and that name is still used today.
People born in Woodbridge are East Anglians.
Our knowledge depends on reading the writings of the time. So who could write?
Read for yourself in Postcards and Bede that you'll find in Why? When? and How? at the top of the page.