History of England Charity

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Hans-Peter Verhoeven

Brilliant series. I have spent many a happy and fascinated evening listening to your excellent series. Has sparked a new interest in early English history.

Question: whats your take on the 'new' analysis of the early anglo saxon period, that in fact their was no 'invasion' by the saxons and that the changes in dress, culture and military equipment was by osmosis rather than take-over as proposed by Francis Pryor in his excellent 3 part series 'England AD' which blew my socks off.

Best H-P Verhoeven

The History of England

Thanks Hans-Peter. I confess that I'd love to go back and re-do that particualr period - I took a rather idiosyncratic approach in focussing on the West saxons, who were after all the smaller of the tribes initially. Still, can't do that now...

But I did read some of Francis Pyor's work and fascinating it is too. It's a poser, because of course there is plenty of evidence the toger way isn't there? For example, why are there so few survivals of British place names, out of all proportion to what happens with teh Norman conquest.

For what it's worth, I ended up fence sitting. I found Pryor convincing on the archaeological evidence, and find it difficult to visualise the size of a migration that completely pushed out an indigeonous population; it's rather tantalising that many of the earliest kings of Wessex had Celtic names. So I figured that what we have is substantial migration, big enough to mean that a large percentage of the population was Anglo Saxon and therefore to have a cultural takeover, but also including a substantial assimilation of the british population. But maybe that's me trying to square a circle.

Eirene Dawson

I heard in Tony Robinson's Time Team that genetic analysis of modern day English show a large % of Celtic genes/DNA (whichever one it is). This would support the idea of a slow migration and inter marriage, rather than a pushing out of the population. Perhaps it was more like the Norman invasion, with the kings and lords etc being Anglo Saxon, but not so much the lower classes.

I love your podcast series. I use it when commuting and while cooking and cleaning. Makes those activities worthwhile. I am Australian. My father's family immigrated here in 1905. They came from a long line of Kentish peasants.


The History of England

Hi Eirene - yes, it's a matter of continual and sometimes hot debate - Francis Pryor shares your view for example. However, someone also sent me a link to a fascinating genetic project which showed similarities between genetic types, and therefore found similar grouping; and the groups are spookily similar to the invasion story.

I guess we'll never know for sure, which is why that period is so fun! But I find the argument for a wholesale replacement slightly more convincing.


I'm in San Diego and just now discovered this wonderful set of podcasts. The translations to westcoast-speak aren't perfected, yet, as it took me a while to figure out the word "coinage" wasn't "carnage" :-) I'm impressed with the level of research. For me, I'm attempting to figure out how people were able to make it through the whole experience intact. The elements, hunger, hygiene, greed, families getting ripped apart. My Scottish bud has convinced me that they were just plain tough, or they just got devoured. I must have some connection to British history through my Norwegian/Danish/German roots. A million thanks for this investment; not lost on me. Thank you.

The History of England

Thanks Gene - I have to tell you it's fun to do though, or I probably wouldn't manage it! If you do come back to this - visit the new website at www.thehistoryofengland.co.uk

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