The Timeline of conflict in Anglo-Saxon Britain is concerned with the period of history from just before the departure of the Roman Army, in the 4th century, to just after the Norman Conquest in the 11th century.
The information is mainly derived from annals and the Venerable Bede. The dates, particularly from the fourth to the late sixth centuries, have very few contemporary sources and are largely later constructions by medieval chroniclers.The historian Diana Greenway described one such 12th-century chronicler, Henry of Huntingdon, as a 'weaver' compiler of history, and the archaeologist Martin Welch described the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as "a product of the West Saxon court... concerned with glorifying the royal ancestry of Alfred the Great. Manipulation of royal genealogies, in this and other sources, to enhance the claims of contemporary rulers was common. Literary formulas associated with original myths are a common feature of earlier entries." Although the timeline uses the annals for this period of history, information provided by these sources can be problematic, particularly with the earlier dates.
Constructing a chronology of the early Anglo-Saxon period, and how the Anglo-Saxons took over land in Britain from Romano-Britons (Celtic-speakers, Latin-speakers, or both), is highly complex. The limitations of source material place constraints on just how accurate any chronology can be. As an example, the following table shows how much variation there is between historians on just one date, the Battle of Badon:
|Higham||c. 430 – c. 440|
|I. Wood||c. 485 – c.520|
Much of the dating of the period comes from Bede (672/673–735), who in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People , tried to compute dates for events in early Anglo-Saxon history.Although primarily writing about church history, Bede is seen as Britain's first true historian, in that he cited his references and listed events according to dates rather than regnal lists. So we know that he relied heavily on De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae by Gildas, a sixth-century cleric, for his early dates and historians have found Gildas unreliable where dates were concerned. Bede's work was widely read among the literate in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, and his dates were used by the monks who compiled the various Anglo-Saxon Chronicles from the late ninth century onwards. Some sources say that the Saxon warriors were invited to come, to the area now known as England, to help keep out invaders from Scotland and Ireland. Another reason for coming may have been because their land often flooded and it was difficult to grow crops, so they were looking for new places to settle down and farm.
The most controversial dates in the period—those from the fourth to the late sixth centuries—have very few contemporary sources, and are mainly derived from later attempts to construct Anglo-Saxon history.
The following is an outline of some events recorded in Bede's Ecclesiastical History, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the Welsh Annals ( Annales Cambriae ), and Brut y Tywysogion . Many of the dates from the fourth, fifth, and sixth century are points of contention.
The Timeline was constructed using the following extracts from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, they are in their original Old English form. For a more complete version and explanation Click Here :
Ælle is recorded in early sources as the first king of the South Saxons, reigning in what is now called Sussex, England, from 477 to perhaps as late as 514.
Ceawlin was a King of Wessex. He may have been the son of Cynric of Wessex and the grandson of Cerdic of Wessex, whom the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle represents as the leader of the first group of Saxons to come to the land which later became Wessex. Ceawlin was active during the last years of the Anglo-Saxon expansion, with little of southern England remaining in the control of the native Britons by the time of his death.
The Kingdom of Wessex was an Anglo-Saxon kingdom in the south of Great Britain, from around the sixth century until England was unified by Æthelstan in 927.
The Battle of Badon, also known as the Battle of Mons Badonicus, was a battle purportedly fought between Britons and Anglo-Saxons in Post-Roman Britain during the late 5th or early 6th century. It was credited as a major victory for the Britons, stopping the westward encroachment of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms for a period.
Vortigern, also spelled Vortiger, Vortigan, Voertigern and Vortigen, was a 5th-century warlord in Britain, known perhaps as a king of the Britons or at least connoted as such in the writings of Bede and Gildas. His existence is contested by scholars and information about him is obscure.
Penda was a 7th-century king of Mercia, the Anglo-Saxon kingdom in what is today the Midlands. A pagan at a time when Christianity was taking hold in many of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, Penda took over the Severn Valley in 628 following the Battle of Cirencester before participating in the defeat of the powerful Northumbrian king Edwin at the Battle of Hatfield Chase in 633.
Edwin, also known as Eadwine or Æduinus, was the King of Deira and Bernicia – which later became known as Northumbria – from about 616 until his death. He converted to Christianity and was baptised in 627. After he fell at the Battle of Hatfield Chase, he was venerated as a saint.
Æthelfrith was King of Bernicia from c. 593 until his death. Around 604 he became the first Bernician king to also rule the neighboring land of Deira, giving him an important place in the development of the later kingdom of Northumbria. He was especially notable for his successes against the Britons and his victory over the Gaels of Dál Riata. Although he was defeated and killed in battle and replaced by a dynastic rival, his line was eventually restored to power in the 630s.
The Battle of the Winwaed was fought on 15 November 655 between King Penda of Mercia and Oswiu of Bernicia, ending in the Mercians' defeat and Penda's death. According to Bede, the battle marked the effective demise of Anglo-Saxon paganism.
Elmet, sometimes Elmed or Elmete, was an independent Brittonic Celtic Cumbric speaking kingdom between about the 4th century and mid 7th century.
Cadwallon ap Cadfan was the King of Gwynedd from around 625 until his death in battle. The son and successor of Cadfan ap Iago, he is best remembered as the King of the Britons who invaded and conquered the Kingdom of Northumbria, defeating and killing its king, Edwin, prior to his own death in battle against Oswald of Bernicia. His conquest of Northumbria, which he held for a year or two after Edwin died, made him one of the last recorded culturally traditional Celtic Britons to hold substantial territory in eastern Britain until the rise of the Welsh House of Tudor. He was thereafter remembered as a national hero by the Britons and as a tyrant by the Anglo-Saxons of Northumbria.
The Battle of Aylesford or Epsford was a battle between Britons and Anglo-Saxons recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the Historia Brittonum. Both sources concur that it involved the Anglo-Saxon leaders Hengist and Horsa on one side and the family of Vortigern on the other, but neither says who won the battle. It was fought near Æglesthrep, presumed to be Aylesford, in Kent.
Cissa was part of an Anglo-Saxon invasion force that landed in three ships at a place called Cymensora in AD 477. The invasion was led by Cissa's father Ælle and included his two brothers. They are said to have fought against the local Britons. Their conquest of what became Sussex, England continued when they fought a battle on the margins of Mecredesburne in 485 and Pevensey in 491 where they are said to have slaughtered their opponents to the last man.
The Battle of Chester was a major victory for the Anglo-Saxons over the native Britons near the city of Chester, England in the early 7th century. Æthelfrith of Northumbria annihilated a combined force from the Welsh kingdoms of Powys and Rhôs, and possibly from Mercia as well. It resulted in the deaths of Welsh leaders Selyf Sarffgadau of Powys and Cadwal Crysban of Rhôs. Circumstantial evidence suggests that King Iago of Gwynedd may have also been killed. Other sources state the battle may have been in 613 or even as early as 607 or 605 AD.
Hereswith or Hereswitha, also spelt Hereswithe, Hereswyde or Haeresvid, was a 7th-century Northumbrian saint. She married into the East Anglian royal dynasty and afterwards retired to Gaul to lead a religious life. Hereswith's sister was Saint Hilda, founder of the monastery at Whitby. Details of her life and identity come from Bede's Historia Ecclesiastica, the Anglian collection and the Lives of Edwin of Northumbria and Hilda of Whitby.
Events from the 5th century in England.
The Battle of Mercredesburne was one of three battles fought as part of the conquest of what became the Kingdom of Sussex in southern England. The battles were fought between the Saxon leader Ælle's army and the local Britons.
Urbs Iudeu was a city besieged in 655 AD by Penda, King of Mercia, and Cadafael, King of Gwynedd. The siege was an important episode in a long-running war between Mercia and Northumbria in the years 616–679. This war was fought in the area north of the River Trent, in particular in and around the Peak District (Wirksworth) also around Heathfield (Doncaster), Elmet (Aberford) and Lindsey (Lincoln), as these were provinces of Northumbria at the time.