Hengest and Horsa arrive in Britain 449AD

Anglo Saxon
History
Map Position

This map shows the position of locations of type 'Town, Village, Roman City, Roman Town, Roman Villa, Roman Major Fort, Roman Station, Roman Port, Saxon Landing' containing 'ing, ypwinesfleot, dubris, durovernum, portus lemanis, regulbium, rutupiae' centered on Bramling in Kent.

Map Logic

This map shows the land in 449AD.

The forest of Andredsweald is shown, which was impassable except where Roman Roads or rivers cut through it.

Roman roads are shown in black plotted from Ivan D Margary 'Roman Roads in Britain' published in 1955.

The red roads are taken from Ivan D Margary 'Roman ways in the Weald' published in 1948.

The Blue lines show the extent of the tidal rivers with the blue shaded areas showing tidal salt marshes as it would have been in Saxon times.


 
Icon Key:
 Unknown Town
Village Ward/Hamlet
Farm/House Wood
River/Lake Lane/Road
Valley Hill
Roman City Roman Town
Roman Villa Roman Major Fort
Roman Station Norman Ships
Saxon Port Battle Site
Roman Port Roman Bloomery
Saxon Landing
 

Lets start by looking at the documentation available

Extract from the Anglo Saxon Chronicles 449AD
Original :- Her Mauricius ⁊ Ualentines onfengon rice ⁊ ricsodon .vii. winter. ⁊ On hiera dagum Hengest ⁊ Horsa from Wyrtgeorne geleaþade Bretta kyninge gesohton Bretene on þam staþe þe is genemned Ypwinesfleot, ærest Brettum to fultume, ac hie eft on hie fuhton. Se cing het hi feohtan agien Pihtas, ⁊ hi swa dydan ⁊ sige hæfdan swa hwar swa hi comon. Hi ða sende to Angle ⁊ heton heom sendan mare fultum ⁊ heom seggan Brytwalana nahtnesse ⁊ ðæs landes cysta. Hy ða sendan heom mare fultum. þa comon þa menn of þrim mægþum Germanie, of Ealdseaxum, of Anglum, of Iotum. Of Iotum comon Cantware ⁊ Wihtware, þæt ys seo mæið ðe nu eardað on Wiht, ⁊ ðæt cynn on Westsexum þe man gyt hæt Iutna cyn. Of Ealdseaxon comon Eastsexa ⁊ Suðsexa ⁊ WestSexan. Of Angle comon, se a siððan stod westi betwyx Iutum ⁊ Seaxum, Eastengla, Midelangla, Mearca ⁊ ealle Norðhymbra..

A.D. 449. This year Marcian and Valentinian assumed the empire, and reigned seven winters. In their days Hengest and Horsa, invited by Wurtgern, king of the Britons to his assistance, landed in Britain in a place that is called Ipwinesfleet; first of all to support the Britons, but they afterwards fought against them. The king directed them to fight against the Picts; and they did so; and obtained the victory wheresoever they came. They then sent to the Angles, and desired them to send more assistance. They described the worthlessness of the Britons, and the richness of the land. They then sent them greater support. Then came the men from three powers of Germany; the Old Saxons, the Angles, and the Jutes. From the Jutes are descended the men of Kent, the Wightwarians (that is, the tribe that now dwelleth in the Isle of Wight), and that kindred in Wessex that men yet call the kindred of the Jutes. From the Old Saxons came the people of Essex and Sussex and Wessex. From Anglia, which has ever since remained waste between the Jutes and the Saxons, came the East Angles, the Middle Angles, the Mercians, and all of those north of the Humber. Their leaders were two brothers, Hengest and Horsa; who were the sons of Wihtgils; Wihtgils was the son of Witta, Witta of Wecta, Wecta of Woden. From this Woden arose all our royal kindred, and that of the Southumbrians also.


Hengest and Horsa landed on the Isle of Thanet which seems to translate correctly as Thanet is derived from þegn æg -
þegn - thane - a servant, one who does service for another (a mercenary)
æg - an island also eye, ye, sea
As Hengest and Horsa were invited to fight for Vortigern, this translation would seem logical for the island.

The question is now - why Thanet ? Could it be that Vortigern had been pushed back to Thanet from his original capital of Canterbury, which is why they landed on Thanet. The most logical place to have landed if he was still on the mainland would have been around the Richborough area, so we have to assume Vortigern had been pushed back onto the Isle of Thanet.

Green Line - Now we have a look at the places with an ing in their name(which to us means fortified) on the Isle of Thanet - please see the map. So if we assume Vortigern was near Ipwinesfleet, that would have been defended by his people, and with the Saxons military logic they built fortified places around the island to protect it from the sea at Birchington, Garlinge, Reading Street and Newington.

We need to make an assumption that the water between the isle and the mainland was controlled by the Saxon ships so less defenses were required on the South West of Thanet.

The next thing that would have been required to restore Vertigern would have been to take the old Roman shore forts at Richborough and Reculver as they would have been the next most serious threat.

Orange Line - Lets first visit Reculver, if you look to the west you will see three more ings Beltinge, Eddington and Shelvingford plus Hillborough (an old Roman Fort), which appear to mark a protective boundary around Reculver to the landward side, again suggesting that the sea was controlled by the Saxon ships.

Purple Line - Now to the area around Richborough, taking this fort will leave the way open to Canterbury on the Roman Road the most likely initial defensive ring around Richborough is the purple line.

Brown Line - spreading out from Richborough, to protect the land behind we have a second line of ings, it would seem that the fiercest fighting occurs around the cluster of ings near Bramling on the Canterbury road.

Yellow Line - Hengest has to take Canterbury to install Vortigern as king of Kent, but carries on up Watling Street and build more protective ings. He also heads south west and south east from Canterbury to block and protect the other three Roman Roads. He now controls the north east of Kent from Faversham to Walmer. He probably deposes Vertigern at this point.

Dark Blue Line - Ok now down to Dover from Richborough and then head north west towards London, he wants Portus Lemanis as it controls access to the sea from the major Iron working locations in the Weald.

Pale Green Line - Expanded further North West and pushing towards Portus Lemanis.

Pale Blue Line - Expanded further North West and now taking in Portus Lemanis.

Pink Line - Expanded further North West now gives Hengest most of Kent.

Please NOTE: the details above are a possible logical interpretation of the village names in North East kent, and as there are no other written records we will never be sure unless archaelogical evidence can be found.
There are three main assumptions to this interpretation, that you accept that villages containing the term ing in all its forms means 'protected/protection', that the Saxons controlled the sea, and that conglomerations of ings shows points of the heaviest fighting.

Places mentioned in the text and translation details:-

Ypwinesfleot Yppe wines fleot(Ipwinesfleet) Ebbsfleet Thanet
  yppe -a raised place, a lookout place
  wines - wine (possibly where the romans grew wine)
  fleot - a bay, estuary, river etc - a place where boats float

No location provided - syntax=http://www.saxonhistory.co.uk/webservice/place_name.php?locn=[&ret=][&hdrsize=][&txtsize=][&imgsize=] locn=location name - mandatory ret=return type - either string or blank for text - optional hdrsize=size in pixels of the title - optional txtsize=size in pixels of the translated text - optional imgsize=size in pixels of the left image - optional


External References in no particular order :-
Original Manuscripts of the Anglo Saxon Chronicles
Online Anglo Saxon dictionary
Online Etymology dictionary
Open Domesday Book - The first free online copy of the Domesday Book
The Ermine Street Guard Roman re-enactment and research Society
The "Kent A" cadastre - page 5 - Peterson 2002
Archaeologia Cantiana Online
Romney Marsh Research Trust
Romney Marsh the Fifth Continent
VillageNet the reference guide to villages in Kent & Sussex
Global warming Flood Maps
The Anglo Saxon Chronicles
Google Maps - the core of the system
GeoPlaner - Useful site for plotting map data
Julius Caesar's Gallic Wars 55BC(Books 4 & 5)
Wikipedia - Caesar's invasions of Britain
Wikipedia - Portus Istus
The Geography of Claudius Ptolemy (Bill Thayers)
Roman Britain.org
Runetree Beowulf
Bayeux Tapestry Online
The Secrets of the Norman Invasion

 

Copyright saxonhistory.co.uk 2013 - 2017
Contact me
Author: Simon M       Document Created: 2016-07-21
Data is derived from a number or sources including the Ordnance Survey Gazetter data overlayed onto Google Maps