Britain AD: A Quest for Arthur, England and the Anglo-Saxons by Francis PryorLeading archaeologist Francis Pryor retells the story of King Arthur, legendary king of the Britons, tracing it back to its Bronze Age origins.
The legend of King Arthur and Camelot is one of the most enduring in Britains history, spanning centuries and surviving invasions by Angles, Vikings and Normans. In his latest book Francis Pryor – one of Britain’s most celebrated archaeologists and author of the acclaimed ‘Britain B.C.’ and ‘Seahenge’ – traces the story of Arthur back to its ancient origins. Putting forth the compelling idea that most of the key elements of the Arthurian legends are deeply rooted in Bronze and Iron Ages (the sword Excalibur, the Lady of the Lake, the Sword in the Stone and so on), Pryor argues that the legends survival mirrors a flourishing, indigenous culture that endured through the Roman occupation of Britain, and the subsequent invasions of the so-called Dark Ages.
As in ‘Britain B.C.’, Pryor roots his story in the very landscape, from Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh, to South Cadbury Castle in Somerset and Tintagel in Cornwall. He traces the story back to the 5th-century King Arthur and beyond, all the time testing his ideas with archaeological evidence, and showing how the story was manipulated through the ages for various historical and literary purposes, by Geoffrey of Monmouth and Malory, among others.
Delving into history, literary sources – ancient, medieval and romantic – and archaeological research, Francis Pryor creates an original, lively and illuminating account of this most British of legends.
10 ways the Anglo-Saxons changed the course of British history
The Anglo-Saxons were migrants from northern Europe who settled in England in the fifth and sixth centuries. Writing in the eighth century, the Northumbrian monk Bede died described the arrival of these migrants in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People. Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People was created in Usage terms Public Domain in most countries other than the UK. They came from three very powerful Germanic peoples, the Saxons, Angles and Jutes. The people of Kent and the inhabitants of the Isle of Wight are of Jutish origin and also those opposite the Isle of Wight, that are part of the kingdom of Wessex which is still today called the nation of the Jutes.
But how much do you know about the Anglo-Saxons?
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What did the Anglo-Saxons ever do for us? Alongside the —9 British Library exhibition showcasing some of the greatest treasures of Anglo-Saxon England, Michael Wood outlined 10 ways in which these northern European migrants changed the course of British history. Anglo-Saxon settlers first started colonising parts of Britain in the fifth century AD and, over the following years or so, would establish themselves as the foremost power in the British Isles. Yet it would be hundreds of miles to the south, in Rome, that arguably the most significant event in their history would occur. The following year, the missionaries landed on the island of Thanet in Kent. This was a defining moment in British history — one that would eventually see the English people adopt Christianity.
It was a time of war, of the breaking up of Roman Britannia into several separate kingdoms, of religious conversion and, after the s, of continual battles against a new set of invaders: the Vikings. Warmer summers meant better crops and a rise in population in the countries of northern Europe. At the same time melting polar ice caused more flooding in low areas, particularly in what is now Denmark, Holland and Belgium. These people eventually began looking for lands to settle in that were not so likely to flood. After the departure of the Roman legions, Britain was a defenceless and inviting prospect. Anglo-Saxon mercenaries had for many years fought in the Roman army in Britain, so they were not total strangers to the island. Their invasions were slow and piecemeal, and began even before the Roman legions departed.