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History: The Anglo-Saxons

The Roman army left Britain in AD 410. When they had gone there was no strong army to defend Britain, and tribes called Angles, Saxons and Jutes invaded. They came from Denmark, northern Germany and northern Holland, and are called the Anglo-Saxons.

At home their land was poor and often flooded, so they were probably looking for new places to live and farm. Some Saxon soldiers may have been invited over to protect Britain. The Anglo-Saxons rowed across the North Sea in wooden boats, and each boatload of people formed a small settlement of just a few large families. Some of the names they gave to their settlements are still the names of places in Britain. Place names ending in -don, like Swindon, or -ham, like Birmingham, are usually Saxon.

Eventually the Anglo-Saxons ruled most of Britain, though they never conquered Cornwall and Wales in the west, or Scotland in the north. They divided the country into kingdoms, and the five main Anglo-Saxon kingdoms were Kent, Anglia, Wessex, Mercia and Northumbria. King Alfred from the kingdom of Wessex, who was called Alfred the Great, became the first king to rule most of England.

The Anglo-Saxons gradually converted to Christianity after St Augustine was sent from Rome in 597 AD.

Click here for more great information about the Anglo-Saxons.

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