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
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
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
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.
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
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