anti-roman: romanised anglo-saxon

The Saxon Shore
Another Look

By whom was it manned, defended and maintained ?

Statue of Bryhtnoth: heir of the Anglo-Saxons of the Saxon Shore
6'9", with swan-white hair, died in battle, 991 AD, aged 60

Two (and more) interpretations have been put forward as to the meaning of the adjective "Saxon": either a shore attacked by Saxons, or a shore settled by Saxons. One argument is put by Eutropius, who states that during the 280s the sea along the coasts of Belgica and Armorica was "infested with Franks and Saxons", and that this was why Carausius was first put in charge of the fleet there. However, Eutropius refers to Franks and Saxons as seaborne invaders. Conversely, archaeological finds, such as artefacts of a Germanic (sic) style, have been found in burials, while there is evidence of the presence of Saxons (mostly laeti Roman army recruits though) in some numbers in SE England and the northern coasts of Gaul around Boulogne-sur-Mer and Bayeux from the middle of the 5th century onwards. This, in turn, mirrors a well documented practice of deliberately settling Germanic tribes (Franks became foederati in 358 AD under Emperor Julian) to strengthen Roman defences. Laeti was a term used in the late Roman Empire to denote communities of "barbarians", i.e. foreigners, or people from outside the Empire, permitted to settle on, and granted land in, imperial territory on condition that they provide recruits for the Roman military. (Wikipedia).

There must have been thousands of so-called "Saxon" tribesmen in Roman Legion service in England, and elsewhere, between 100 and 400 A.D. Their families would have had independent settlements near or next to their Britannic Legion quarters, and also further inland. Old Scandinavian is the language attested in the oldest Scandinavian Elder Futhark inscriptions, allegedly spoken from ca. the 2nd to 8th centuries. It evolved into Anglo-Saxon, risibly called "Old English" since 1928, and the other dialects of what is equally doggedly called "Old Norse", at the beginning of the Viking Age about AD 800. Improved account.

Simeon of Durham notes that the Angles came from Old Angeln, which lies "between the Saxons and the Goths". This would therefore include all Scania, and the town of Ängelholm. And why not Ingelsträde, Ängeltofta and Ängelbeckstrand as well ? Virtually all subsequent writers have failed to include Skåne as part of Old Angeln.

Womb of nations, ringed in red: Götaland included.
Can't leave out the Goths.

The contentions I'm attempting to work up to are these:

Rev. Joseph Bosworth, 1868

1. The Romans referred to their barbarian foederati, wherever they came from as "Saxons". These soldiers tended to be armed with a seax. The most belligerent of them were picked out by the Romans, and sent to the Valhalla in Rome, called the Coliseum, or death-hall [val means death], where they fought all day and feasted all night, while living. This was an honour, and entertained the Romans.

2. The name, and its derivatives, quite regardless of actual geographic tribal origin, appears in other languages as Sassenach Sasannach Sasunnach Sasann Saeson Sais Saesneg Seisnig Sawsnek Sawzneck Sasunn Sasainn Sassone Sasi Saksa Saksamaa Saksalaiset Sakslased Sakset Saks.

3. However, it grows obvious that the bulk of these "Saxons", recruited by the Romans, were actually Angles, with a number of Goths, known as Jutes. "The Angles, being the predominant settlers" along Britannia's Roman Saxon Shore, "subsequently received the name of Anglo-Saxons". Since they were mainly Angles, they spoke Anglish, which was NOT Old English, a language which didn't even begin to appear until well after 1066 AD.

4. These eminent conclusions are for inserting in your pipe, smoking and dwelling on.

It becomes exceedingly clear that numerous English place-names were well in place long, long before the intrusions of the hordes from Denmark and Norway.

Craniology has had its day I fear
Daily Tekegraph, 15/7/45

essays and papers       main index
david burns       david burns 2
saxon shore one       saxon shore three
scedeland      engelholm
gothonic or old scandinavian
commentary       annotation
back to this version
on to oppenheimer on language
gata and strada
hollander & gradon
back to language of ancent britain
tower of babel
try ship four

All Men Must Die



Knight, Death and the Devil

A Saxon Song      

Tools with the comely names,
Mattock and scythe and spade,
Couth and bitter as flames,
Clean, and bowed in the blade,--
A man and his tools make a man and his trade.

Breadth of the English shires,
Hummock and kame and mead,
Tang of the reeking byres,
Land of the English breed,--
A man and his land make a man and his creed.

Leisurely flocks and herds,
Cool-eyed cattle that come
Mildly to wonted words,
Swine that in orchards roam,--
A man and his beasts make a man and his home.

Children sturdy and flaxen
Shouting in brotherly strife,
Like the land they are Saxon,
Sons of a man and his wife,--
For a man and his loves make a man and his life.

Victoria Sackville-West: rather surprising verse for this author.
The only thing was that these Saxons were mostly Angles, interspersed with Jutes, or Geats.


"Language barriers among linguists are more durable than the Iron Curtain or the Berlin Wall"
(Anatoly Liberman, Scandinavian phonology, Scandinavian Studies 66: 232-3 1994).

A study of the Scandinavian languages might start with The Language of the Oldest Runic Inscriptions; A Linguistic and Historical-Philological Analysis, by È.A.Makaev, first published in 1965. This work was translated into English from the original Russian by John Meredig, and published in 1996 by Kungl. Vitterhets Historia och Antikvitets Akademiens Handlingar, Filologisk-filosofiska serien 21. A prefatory note remarks: "Language barriers among linguists are more durable than the Iron Curtain or the Berlin Wall (Anatoly Liberman, "Scandinavian phonology", Scandinavian Studies 66: 232-3 [1994])."

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© Charles Harrison-Wallace 2017
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My fellow man I do not care for
I often ask me what he's there for
The only answer I can find
Is reproduction of his kind
Ogden Nash

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