The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles make the English some of the first to record their own history as a people in text. A year by year account is given in nine manuscripts beginning at the year 60 BC and continuing to 1154 AD. Some are kept in the Parker Library in Cambridge University. They are thus also known as the Parker Chronicles in academic circles.
A page from the world famous Anglo-Saxon Chronicles
The Parker Chronicle (part of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles), records that in the year:
449. Here Mauricius and Valentinian succeeded to the kingdom and ruled 7 years. And in their days Hengist and Horsa, invited by Vortigern, king of the Britons, sought out Britain in the landing-place which is named Ebba’s Creek, at first to help the Britons, but later they fought against them. The king ordered them to fight against the Picts, and they did so and had victory whosesoever they came. They then sent to Angeln and ordered them to send more help, and tell them of the worthlessness of the Britons and of the excellence of the land. They then sent them more help. These men came from three tribes of Germany: from the Old Saxons, from the Angles, from the Jutes came the Cantware and the Wihtware – that is the tribe which now lives on White – and that race in Wessex which they still call the race of the Jutes.
455. Here Hengist and Horsa fought against Vortigern the king in the place which is called Aylesford, and his brother Horsa was killed. And after that Hengist, and Æsc his son, succeeded to the kingdom.
457. Here Hengist and Æsc fought against the Britons in the place which is called Crayford, and there killed 4,000 men; and the Britons then abandoned the land of Kent and in great terror fled to the stronghold of London.
465. Here Hengist and Æsc fought against the Welsh near Wipped’s Creek, and there killed 12 Welsh chieftains; and one of their Thegns, whose name was Wipped, was killed there.
473. Here Hengist and Æsc fought against the Welsh and seized countless war-loot and the Welsh fled from the Englisc like fire.
477. Here Ælle and his 3 sons, Cymen and Wlencing and Cissa, came to the land of the Britain with 3 ships at the place which is named Cymen’s shore, and there killed many Welsh and drove some to flight into the wood which is named The Weald.
485. Here Ælle fought against the Welsh near the margin of Mearcred’s Burn.
488. Here Æsc succeeded to the kingdom, and was king of the inhabitants of Kent 24 years.
491. Here Ælle and Cissa besieged Anderitum, and killed all who lived in there; there was not even one Briton left alive there.
495. Here two chieftons; Cerdic and Cynric his son, came to Britain with 5 ships at a place which is called Cerdic’s Shore and the same day fought against the Welsh.
In English tradition the Germanic tribes who came to Britain during the period of the Adventus were of four basic races: mentioned above.
The Angles came from Schleswig in Southern Denmark, and reached Britain by coasting westward along the West German seaboard, crossing the straits of Dover, and working up the East coast. Their first large-scale settlements were those of the East Angles (East Anglia,) in Norfolk (North Folk,) and Suffolk (South Folk,) and those of Middle Angles (Mercia,) who established themselves around modern Bedfordshire, Huntingdonshire, and Northamptonshire.
The Seax (Saxons,) came from the River Weser basin in Germany, their first settlements were Essex (East Saxons), Middlesex (Middle Saxons), Sussex (South Saxons), and expanded northward through Hampshire to found the kingdom of the West Saxons (Wessex).
The Jutes and Frisian’s were probably the first of the English to settle in Britain; they crossed to Kent from the mouth of the Rhine, and Hengist was their first recorded King. A later Jutish migration to the west settled in the Isle of Wight.
Other War Bands of pioneer English pushed northward along the Lincolnshire coast and up the rivers of Yorkshire, founding Deira and Bernicia, the two sub-kingdoms of the later kingdom of Northumbria (People North of the River Humber,); and by about 500 AD the English grip on the Island was unshakeable. So a new story of the English and of a ‘New’ England had begun.
When the historical mists clear (from about 600 AD onwards we have Bede’s account), we find that the New England is divided into several English kingdoms – not states with hard and fast boundaries, but rather tribal confederations within certain regions, the smaller ones always liable to be swallowed by the larger.
Hengist and Horsa, Cerdic and Cynric are mentioned, not because anyone in the fifth century would have seen any difference between their exploits and hundreds of others like them, but because the kings of the later kingdoms traced their dynasties back to these remote heroes.
Map of the New England in the Late 5th Century (Reproduced by permission).
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles were written in the ninth century, around the time of King Alfred of Wessex, who claimed Cerdic and his son Cynric as the founders of his dynasty; the chronicle would naturally celebrate their victories.
There was not the same reason for the memory of other early expeditions to be preserved, though some perhaps have their memorial in place-name ending in – ing, such as Hastings – Hastingas, the followers of the Saxon chief Hasta.
Some expeditions may not have been military in character, giving still less reason to preserve their tradition – until quite recent times history without battles was considered no history at all.
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Link will appear as Hanson, Marilee. "Anglo-Saxon Chronicles" https://englishhistory.net/middle-ages/anglo-saxon-chronicles/, March 4, 2022