Saxon Seaxe Anglo Saxon History
Map Position
This map shows the position of locations containing '449AD, 455AD, roman bloomery, 460AD, anderida, dubris, durobrivae, durovernum, portus lemanis, regulbium, rutupiae' centered on Etchingham in Sussex.
Map Logic
This map shows a possible scenario for the Saxons to land at Hastings in approx 460AD.

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.

The small icons north west of Hastings shows the location of Roman Bloomeries(Based on Data from the Wealden Iron Research Group).
Icon Key:
Roman Town
Roman Major Fort
Battle Site
Roman Bloomery
Saxon Landing

The Haestingas - the Kingdom of Hastings
An argument for Saxon landings at Hastings in aprox 460AD


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.

From the above translation it would seem that Hengest had defeated king Vortergen and taken over Kent.

To find out the boundaries of Kent at the time we need to use the existing infrastucture, the sea level effects and the forest of Andredsweald.
  • Andredsweald provides a south eastern boundary for kent from aproximately modern day Folkestone to Tonbridge and was mostly impassible except for the old Roman roads and the commonly used trackways, so makes a good border.
  • The Romney marsh was mostly salt marsh, so the Southern boundary of kent would have been along the ridge from Appledore to Hythe, which was where the River Rother was flowing at the time.
  • The majority of the eastern and northern boundary for Kent would now be the sea from Hythe through to modern day Dartford.

Extract from the Anglo Saxon Chronicles 455AD
Original :- Her Hengest ⁊ Horsa fuhton wiþ Wyrtgeorne þam cyninge, in þære stowe þe is gecueden Agelesþrep, ⁊ his broþur Horsan man ofslog; ⁊ æfter þam Hengest feng to rice ⁊ æsc his sunu.

A.D. 455. This year Hengest and Horsa fought with Wurtgern the king on the spot that is called Aylesford. His brother Horsa being there slain, Hengest afterwards took to the kingdom with his son Esc.

Extract from the Anglo Saxon Chronicles 457AD
Original :- Her Hengest ⁊ æsc fuhton wiþ Brettas in þære stowe þe is gecueden Crecganford ⁊ þær ofslogon .iiiim. wera, ⁊ þa Brettas þa forleton Centlond ⁊ mid micle ege flugon to Lundenbyrg.

A.D. 457. This year Hengest and Esc fought with the Britons on the spot that is called Crayford, and there slew four thousand men. The Britons then forsook the land of Kent, and in great consternation fled to London.

Extract from the Anglo Saxon Chronicles 465AD
Original :- Her Hengest ⁊ æsc gefuhton uuiþ Walas neah Wippedesfleote ⁊ þær .xii. wilisce aldormenn ofslogon, ⁊ hiera þegn an þær wearþ ofslægen, þam wæs noma Wipped.

A.D. 465. This year Hengest and Esc fought with the Welsh, nigh Wippedfleet; and there slew twelve leaders, all Welsh. On their side a thane was there slain, whose name was Wipped.

Extract from the Anglo Saxon Chronicles 473AD
Original :- Her Hengest ⁊ æsc gefuhton wiþ Walas ⁊ genamon unarimedlico herereaf, ⁊ þa Walas flugon þa Englan swa þer fyr.

A.D. 473. This year Hengest and Esc fought with the Welsh, and took immense Booty. And the Welsh fled from the English like fire.

During the above period from 455AD to 4⁊3AD the only news in the chronicles was that happening in Kent, and it would seem that Hengest was pushing the original occupants from the South East of Kent to the North West.

Extract from the Anglo Saxon Chronicles 477AD
Original :- Her cuom Ælle on Bretenlond ⁊ his .iii. suna, Cymen ⁊ Wlenca ⁊ Cissa, mid .iii. scipum on þa stowe þe is nemned Cymenesora, ⁊ þær ofslogon monige Wealas ⁊ sume on fleame bedrifon on þone wudu þe is genemned Andredesleage.

Translation :- In 477AD Aelle came to Britain with his three sons Cymen, Wlenca and Cissa with three ships landing at the place called Cymensora. There he killed many Welsh and drove some in flight into the forest of Andredsweald.

Now we have Aelle/Aella/Ælle landing in mid Sussex and expanding his kingdom from Shoreham to Pevensey in the east and to Chichester in the west.

Lets take a look at the economic values of the South East in Roman Times.
  • In Kent there are large tracts of food producing areas so Hengest had taken over this production.
  • In the Hastings area is a rich area of Wealden Greensand which contains about 30% iron, this extends North West from the coast, and as the Roman fleet the CLBR were exporting masses of iron to the continent, this would have been a very valuable area, but wouldnt have been know to the Saxons until Hengest and Horsa sent messengers back to the Angles/Jutes and Saxons.
  • Aella landed in Sussex which is mostly downland with sheep production, why not the wealthy Hastings area unless someone was already there!!

So why hasn't anyone landed on the Hastings peninsular ?
Hastings is on the edge of the Weald, so fuel is plentiful, the Romans were producing exporting large amounts of iron from the area, Beauport Park and Bardown at Stonegate bear this out(see the Wealden Iron Research Group website). The area has a lot of sea inlets to allow export of goods, however iron from Stonegate would have have been transported by barge from Etchingham out of the area via Hythe which was now controlled by Hengest, or to Bodiam then over the hill to Sedlescombe on the Roman road then exported via Winchelsea/Rye.

This would imply that the Hastings area was a rich and already tightly controlled area of weapon production. Now as the majority of the names in the Hastings area are Saxon it can be assumed that this area was settled by the Saxons, before Aella landed. Also Aelle stopped his expansion at Pevensey which he wouldn't have done if Hastings was available for conquest.

Evidence of an independant Hastings
If we look ahead in time we see in 692AD. Nothhelm (Nunna), king of Sussex, grants to his sister Nothgyth, 33 hides (cassati) at Lidsey, Aldingbourne, Lenstedegate (? Westergate in Aldington) and (North) Mundham, Sussex to found a minster, this is signed by two kings Nunna of the South Saxons and Watta possibly of Hastings.

771AD the chronicler Simeon of Durham records the defeat of the gens Hestingorum (the people of Hastings) by Offa of Mercia, again implying a separate South Saxon kingdom.

Lets finally look at the names of places near Hastings to see if we can identify the location of Saxon Hastings.
  • Hastings [hast derived from haeste - a storm, wild sea] [ings derived from nering - to protect(fortified)] - So this could be translated as a place that is protected from the raging of the sea - Combe Haven possibly
  • Combe Haven at Hastings derived from [comb - a valley] [haven derived from havn - a place on the coast where vessels may find shelter, especially one protected from rough water by piers, jetties, and other artificial structures] - This implies that it is the harbour of Hastings
  • Bulverhythe on the edge of Combe Haven - bulver derived from burgh wær - [burh/beorg - fortified place, castle - usually associated with old Roman forts / a high place - hill] [wær - the sea] [hythe derived from hythe] - a harbour or port - so this implies that Hastings is located on the hill near Combe Haven, currently the Harley Chute Road area.

Our Conclusion :
There seems to be evidence that Hastings was a rich area during Roman times - also evidence that the area was independant in the 700's and that all the names in the area seem to be Saxon in origin, so we believe that Hastings was settled before Aella landed in 477AD by a group of Saxons who took over the area and probably not before 449AD due to Marcian and Valentinian taking over Britain.

Please note the dates in the Anglo Saxon Chronicles may or may not be exactly accurate as they were written 400 years after the events, but we are assuming the order of events would be correct.

Places mentioned in the text and translation details:-

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

  Ageles(Ægles) - Eagles
  þrep(þreap) - a crowd
  (The place of the Eagle Troops - Rochester)

Crecganford - Crecca ford(Crayford)
crecca - a bay or inlet
Ford - a ford
The 5 metre tide mark makes the river cray into a bay or inlet and crayford just at end - and its on Watling Street 51.45300,0.17910

Wippedesfleote - wyppe pur fleot(Purfleet)
yppe -a raised place, a lookout place
pur - a bittern
fleot - a fast moving body of water,a bay, estuary, river etc - a place where boats float
The 5 metre tide mark makes this near a lookout island in the Thames where bitterns are found 51.47394,0.22728

External References in no particular order :-
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)
Runetree Beowulf
Bayeux Tapestry Online
The Secrets of the Norman Invasion
Chronicles of John of Worcester
Battle Historic Society
Binsted village website(Mearcredesburnan Steðe)
The Spears of Andred
Find British Archaelogical Sites
Wealden Iron Research Group
Topographic Map of the UK


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Author: Simon M - Last Updated: 13/03/2024 13:12
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Data is derived from a number or sources including the Ordnance Survey Gazetter data overlayed onto Google Maps