Sutton Hoo: The Excavation of a Royal Ship-Burial

Sutton Hoo: The Excavation of a Royal Ship-Burial

Sutton Hoo: The Excavation of a Royal Ship-Burial

Sutton Hoo: The Excavation of a Royal Ship-Burial

Excerpt

It is a commonplace that in the veins of most modern Englishmen there runs the blood of many ancestral peoples. We may turn for example to Daniel Defoe who, in 1703, gave us 'The True-born Englishman', in which he descanted on the mixed descent and summarised it with

'The Western Angles all the rest subdued,
A bloody nation, barbarous and rude,
Who by the tenure of the sword possessed
One part of Britain, and subdued the rest.
And as great things denominate the small,
The conquering part gave title to the whole;
The Scot, Pict, Briton, Roman, Dane, submit,
And with the English-Saxon all unite.'

And then he goes on the satirise at greater length the Norman strain in the hotch-potch.

But this mongrelism, as it is often called, can be and often is somewhat exaggerated. For Angles, Saxons, Frisians, Jutes, Danes and Norsemen were little more than tribal names of folk of closely-related stocks, of cognate speech and culture. Normans too were transplanted Norsemen somewhat modified by admixture with Saxons and Franks, another northern tribal group. And though the ancient British element, itself compounded of many strains, has modified the 'Nordic' mixture, it has still to be shown that its proportion is considerable in the English amalgam.

many attempts have been made to prove this: to show, as one writer put it, that in 'those dark and anarchic centuries when, as we conjecture, a certain (probably small) number of North Sea pirates and revolted German mercenaries achieved a measure of political power an perhaps a certain infusion of new blood in the deserted province of Britain. Nay, it actually became a part of English patriotism to prefer this dingy and unattractive origin for our nation to the grandeur of a highly civilized part of the Roman Empire."

But no competent student of the Dark Ages holds this extreme view. And as modern Dark Age Studies progress, the mixed Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian origin of a large proportion of the English nation becomes ever clearer. It must be noted too that from the first, the settlers commmonly called themselves English. Alfred the king, himself a West Saxon, always . . .

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