• The Anglo-Saxon people originated in Northern Germany and Scandanavia.
  • They invaded Britain during the 5th century A.D. and ruled until the Norman Conquest of 1066 A.D.
  • The Anglo-Saxons believed Friday to be such an unlucky day, because Jesus died on a Friday, that they ritually slaughtered any children born on that day.
  • In Anglo-Saxon times, a man could divorce his wife on the grounds that she was too passionate.
  • Anglo-Saxons believed in animal sacrifices, and the most commonly sacrificed animal was the oxen.
  • It is not confirmed that they performed human sacrifices, although a woman was found buried alive next to a nobleman possibly to accompany him to the afterlife.
  • Anglo-Saxons ground grain into flour on flat 'quernstones'. The stones were often made of volcanic lava stone from Germany.
  • Anglo-Saxon society was decidedly patriarchal, but women were in some ways better off than they would be in later times. A woman could own property in her own right. She could and did rule a kingdom if her husband died. She could not be married without her consent and any personal goods, including lands, that she brought into a marriage remained her own property. If she were injured or abused in her marriage her relatives were expected to look after her interests
  • For leisure, Anglo-Saxons enjoyed games such as chess, dice, and riddle telling. Hunting and horse racing were also popular as well.
  • Many of the wealthier women undertook embroidery in their spare time, particularly for embroidered wall hangings.
  • Anglo-Saxon needlework was famed throughout Europe, and many embroideries were richly embellished with gold and silver thread, which were then given as ambassadorial gifts for visiting dignitaries.
  • Juggling was as entertainment. Many warriors practiced juggling with sharp knives.
  • Another entertainment was to exercise dogs by jumping them over poles
  • Swimming was a poplular sport, it was condisered legal during a competition to try and drown your opponent
  • Weight lifting was popular, for strenght. Men used blouders as 'weights' .
  • Rock climbing and other tests of agility where also popular.
  • Another sport was 'skin-pulling', a form of tug-of-war, using an animal skin instead of a rope. To make it more intersting, the pull often took place over a fire, which would of course add frisson to the event
  • Dance was popular in the form of circle dances and acrobatic dances with weapons and masks made of animal skin and fur
  • Some children played musical instruments made from animal bones
  • Wresting, was of course a popular sport played by all class levels. It rarely ended in a broken limb.
  • There were also ball games played, such as 'knatteleik' a game played like a violent version of 'kingy-bats'
  • ''sköfuleik', a rough game played with a 'scraper, is thought to be' perhaps some form of hockey or hurling
  • The balls for these games were usually of wood or of simple leather balls
  • The rules for these types of games generally take the form of a man defending himself with a wooden bat of some description, from the thrown ball.
  • The wealthly where often depicted in drawings as shown below, hunting with dogs, birds such as hawks or sparrows. Many they could afford hunting in such a style.
  • external image tap2.gif
  • The Anglo-Saxon social structure consisted of tribal units led by chieftains ("kings," or "lords") who, theoretically at least, earned their respect from their warriors (or "retainers," or "thanes," the group being called a "comitatus").

  • Fighting was a way of life, and not to avenge the death of a family member was a social disgrace, so endlessly intricate blood-feuds generated perpetual excuses for going to war.
  • The two alternatives for ending a blood-feud were 1) paying "wergild" -- the man price, or 2) arranging a marriage. Women were known as "cup-bearers" (because they served the mead) and "peace-weavers" (because of this function whereby feuds could be ended).
  • The germanic tribes hated peace; fighting was more honorable.
  • There was no national unity or any Round Table in these early years, but some tribes temporarily grouped together for a larger war task.
  • Kings should display the heroic ideal and be known for an extraordinary and courageous feat or for success in war, all preceded by some boasting.
  • They believed a thane shouldn't survive the king, and the worst fate for these people was to be exiled or to outlast all one's fellow warriors.

Men’s clothing
external image 220px-Harold_bayeux_tapestry.png
· Most men wore a tunic, girdled at the waist and usually with long sleeves. They were usually mid-thigh to knee length.
· The neck openings on these early tunics were just slits or oval openings. Tunics were often decorated with tablet woven borders.
· Tunics at this time appear to have been known by the name of cyrtel
· It also seems that some men, possibly only the rich, wore a linen undershirt
· A short cloak or cape, made of skin or fur was an important feature of men's costume
· Most commonly made of sheep skin
· They seem to have been worn fur side inwards, skin side outwards and were secured by lacing, sewing, or tying
· Cloths cloaks, short or knee length, were also common.
· These cloaks were not tailored, but consisted of a square or rectangle of cloth which was clasped usually on the right shoulder
· The hooded robe, known to modern scholars as the 'Gallic coat'
· It provided protection against bad weather
· The words hćt and hufe may have been applied to men's headgear, and the word hod probably signified a hood
external image acloak.gif

· The wearing of trousers had long distinguished the 'barbarians' from the Greeks and Romans (although the Romans eventually adopted the wearing of trousers too!).
· They were sometimes worn beneath a tunic and sometimes worn only with a cloak, and were fastened around the waist with a belt.
· Trousers at this time all seem to have been ankle length, with the shorter trousers only remaining as undergarments.
· Trousers were referred to as brec (short trousers) and braccas (breeches or long trousers).
· Trousers were bound to the legs by leggings or garters
· Belts were worn both to hold up the trousers and to girdle the tunic.
· Most belts were of leather and were fastened by buckles, although woven girdles could also be worn.
· Plain belts could be tied where used to support trousers
· A more decorative belt could be seen over the tunic
· Items like knives and pouches probably hung from the trouser belt rather than the tunic
· Belts were known by the Old English words belt or fetel.
Angl-Saxon man
Angl-Saxon man
Anglo-Saxon woman
Anglo-Saxon woman

Women's Clothing

  • Women wore peplo dresses which were usually tubular and clasped at the shoulde leaving the arms uncovered
  • In warm weather the peplo dresses would have been worn on its own but in cold weather or on special occasions an underdress would have been worn underneath.
  • "Wifecrudes" is the anlgo-saxon word for women's outer colthing
Most of our information about women’s clothing comes from drawings
· “Crytle”
· “Crytle” is the Anglo-Saxon word for the outer gown
· Women are commonly shown wearing sleeved gowns that went to halfway down their arm or longer
· Pictures show sleeves fitting loosely to tightly bound so sleeves could not drag ground
· Sleeves that covered the hand kept the women warm
· Generally, later in the period the garment is, the longer the sleeves.

external image ep06_054.gif
· Generally personal ornaments aren’t seen on hanging off gowns
  • external image ep06_053.gif
    · Belts aren’t seen but are indicated by pouched garments
    · Neither or long belt ends or tools hanging from the dress
    · Headdresses
    · Women always had heads covered indoors and out
    · Christianity around the eleventh century had a strong grip on the Anglo-Saxon, and St. Paul’s injunction that women keep their heads covered
    · By the 11th century a headdress nearly envelopes the head and neck in a nun-like wimple.
    · Headbands are worn in conjunction with the head coverings.
    · Headbands would make a good base for holding the head scarf
    · Some head coverings appear to be wrapped around the head many times
    · Some headbands were of great length, with the ends hanging down the back to the waist, under the head covering.
    · Hair may have been plaited and wrapped around the head
    · No braids are shown hanging out of the headdresses nor are there any indications on the backs of the veils to indicate twists or buns
    · How hair was worn underneath the head scarf remains a mystery

external image images?q=tbn:ANd9GcR7bPuJ7Q7yNtzueoh-L1U5FaeJ3I3uokSvqQO49EIJTP5cs3ZcHA external image g0005101s.jpg
· Interesting Fact:
o Objects interpreted as hairpins have been found around the skulls of females in Anglo-Saxon graves, so some type of pinned up hairstyle may have been worn
Under the dress

· Underdress
· Would show at the hem and arms
· Sleeves sometimes have wrinkled appearance
· Could be cut long or bunched on the arm
external image g0002104s.jpg external image g0002103s.jpg

  • · SHOES
  • Changed the least throughout the time peroid
  • Shoes were generally round toed, flat soled and reached the ankle or just below the ankle
  • Sandals of the Iron Age were still being useed although enclosed shoes made of rawhide or leather made their appearance in this era.
  • Flat-soled ankle height leather boots, fastened with a side over-flap with toggles or laces, were standard for all classes
As leather tanning was well advanced, perhaps these boots were dyed various colors, or became ornamentation for the wealthy.

  • The Anglo-Saxons were divided into tribes.
  • These tribes were ruled by chieftains. Chieftains, in order to gain the role of leader, would have to gain respect of his warriors by some type of war glory or triumph. After being victorious, the chieftain would have to share the spoils of war so the warriors would not rebel.
  • Warriors got a sense of identity by joing a tribe. It also was in the best interest of the warrior to join a tribe in order to have protection from others.
  • Fighting was seen as something honorable and a way of life. If one's family was murdered, that person was expected to gain revenge. If not, he would be disgraced. Fighting was a way of life; a peaceful era was viewed as something boring and not as glorious as war.


  • Old English consisted of various dialects.
  • We get our syntax, the grammatical arrangement of words in a sentence, from the Anglo-Saxons.
The English preference from the Anglo Saxons have greater ease with nouns, the tendencies to simplify grammar and shorten words, and the "law of recessive accent" -- the tendency to place the accent on the first syllable and to slur over subsequent syllables. (Later words adopted from outside illustrate: "quantité" is anglicanized to "quántity"; "contraire" to "contrary.")
The Anglo-Saxon gods lend their names to days of the week: Tuesday from Tiw, the dark god; Wednesday from Woden, the war god; Thursday from Thor, the thunder god; Friday from Frigga, goddess of the home.

Anglo-Saxons enjoyed entertainment such as poetry, story-telling, music, and merriment. Poetry was usually recited in the 'mead-hall'. Poets, called Scops, and harpists, called Gleement, were the ones who sung or recited; they were the only historians in their time.

Germanic languages:
  • Their language is sometimes refferred to as Caucasus
Their language is divded into three groups for the Germanic branches:
  • Western- High German, English, Dutch, and Flemish
  • Eastern- Gothic languages
  • Northern- Swedish, Norwegian, and Scandinavian languages

  • The early Anglo-Saxons were pagans and believed in many gods (polytheism)
    • The king of the Anglo-Saxon gods, for example, was Woden - a German version. From his name comes our day of the week Wednesday or 'Woden's day'.
    • Other gods were Thunor, god of thunder; Frige, goddess of love; and Tiw, god of war.
    • Anglo-Saxons were superstitious. They believed in lucky charms. They thought 'magic' rhymes, potions, stones or jewels would protect them from evil spirits or sickness.
    • In Roman Britain, many people had been Christians
    • After the Romans left Britain, Christianity continued in places where Anglo-Saxons did not settle, such as Wales and the west.
    • Christian monks, such as St. Patrick and St. Columba taught the 'Celtic' form of the Christian religion.
Woden.jpg external image as_thor_statue.jpg Thor with a hammer.

external image as_stpauls_monastary.jpg
St Paul's Monastery at Jarrow. The monastery at Jarrow in Northumbria was a centre of the Christian Church in Anglo-Saxon times