Were Hengest and Horsa Real?

Haesten

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
2,865
I favour Dorchester for Cerdicesora as it would explain the 519 battle at Cerdicesford, 527 at Cerdicesleaga, and the 530 conquest of the Isle of Wight by he Gewisse/West Saxons, Gewisse striking south. I would guess Mount Badon has something to do with the political situation in the New Forest area and the reverses the A-S federates had suffered, particularly the South Saxons, who are the strongest of the southern federates in the 5c.

The Jutes/Kent and Gewisse fall out in 568, the first recorded conflict among the settlers/federates. Wibban dune is unidentified but could be Hampshire/Sussex and a squabble over control of the area.
 
Nov 2008
1,180
England
If the battle took place at Charford Hants, Natanleaga would most likely be the New Forest. DB - Nova Foresta.

Cerdic could have been called in by Jute settlers and landed in the Southampton Water/ Beulieu River area. This doesn't fit very well with the Gewisse a generation later being based at Dorchester on Thames.
If the battle took place at Charford Hants, Natanleaga would most likely be the New Forest. DB - Nova Foresta.

Cerdic could have been called in by Jute settlers and landed in the Southampton Water/ Beulieu River area. This doesn't fit very well with the Gewisse a generation later being based at Dorchester on Thames.
There were Saxon foederati near to Dorchester in the first half of the fifth century, and it has been suggested that it was these who revolted as reported in the Gallic Chronicles. The Gewisse may well be decended from these Saxon mercenaries. Furthermore Alle and his South Saxons invaded in the second half of the fifth century, and it is he whom Bede stated was the first one to hold imperium in Britain. Perhaps "invaded" is the wrong term. Some historians have suggested that the South Saxons may have been invited initially to perform the role as foederati.
 

Haesten

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
2,865
I favour aldormen Cerdic being called in by Dorchester federates under pressure from resurgent Brits, like Ambrosius Aurelianus.

Dorchester could be still under Brit authority and Cerdic part of a Brit factional squabble originally.
 
Nov 2008
1,180
England
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle entry for the year 491 states, "Here Ælle and Cissa besieged Anderitium, and killed all who lived in there; there was not even one Briton left there." In his book about Anglo-Saxon paganism, "The Elder Gods", Stephen Pollington suggests this slaughter of the Britons at Pevensey might possibly be an example of the pagan Germanic practice of ritual destruction of the enemy to fulfil oaths sworn to Wodan in his aspect of god of military victory .Tacitus mentions this gruesome rite when he described a war between the Hermunduri and the Chatti in 58 AD. The Chatti were all killed and their accoutrements were destroyed. In a similar way, the Cimbri killed all the Roman men and destroyed their equipment after a victory in 105 AD. Jordanes writing about the Goths tells that, "They thought that he who is lord of war ought to be appeased by the shedding of human blood. To him they devoted the first share of the spoil, and in his honour arms stripped from the foe were suspended from trees."
 

authun

Ad Honorem
Aug 2011
4,927
In a similar way, the Cimbri killed all the Roman men and destroyed their equipment after a victory in 105 AD. Jordanes writing about the Goths tells that, "They thought that he who is lord of war ought to be appeased by the shedding of human blood. To him they devoted the first share of the spoil, and in his honour arms stripped from the foe were suspended from trees."
The Battle Arausio was in 105BC, not AD. Jordanes is writing 650 years after the event. It was a catastrophic defeat but no roman sources like Caesar, writing some 50 years after the battle or Tacitus around 200 years after the battle mention the above. Nor do writers like Plutarch mention it. All he does is write that the fields were soaked in the blood of the roman soldiers and their retinues and that the fields thus became fertile. Same is said of the Towton battlefield. Jordanes is writing with a good deal of literary licence.
 
Last edited:
Nov 2008
1,180
England
The Battle Arausio was in 105BC, not AD. Jordanes is writing 650 years after the event. It was a catastrophic defeat but no roman sources like Caesar, writing some 50 years after the battle or Tacitus around 200 years after the battle mention the above. Nor do writers like Plutarch mention it. All he does is write that the fields were soaked in the blood of the roman soldiers and their retinues and that the fields thus became fertile. Same is said of the Towton battlefield. Jordanes is writing with a good deal of literary licence.
My mistake in writing 105 AD instead of 105 BC. It was Orosius who described the defeat of the Romans Caepio and Mallius by the Cimbri in 105 BC:

"The enemy captured both camps and acquired an enormous quantity of booty. In accordance with a strange and unusual vow, they set about destroying everything which they had taken. Clothing was cut to pieces and thrown away, gold and silver was thrown into the river, the breastplates of men was hacked to pieces, the trappings of the horses were broken up, the horses themselves drowned in whirlpools, and men with nooses round their necks were hanged from trees. Thus there was no booty for the victors and no mercy for the vanquished."

Tacitus described a battle between the Hermunduri and the Chatti in 58 AD:

"That same summer the Hermunduri and Chatti fought a great battle. They both wanted to seize a rich salt-producing river which flowed between them. The Chatti were defeated with catastrophic results. For each side, in the event of victory, had dedicated the other to Mars and Mercury (Tiwaz and Wodenaz). This vow meant that every man of the beaten side together with their horses and every possession had to be destroyed."

Pollington suggested, as I mentioned earlier, a possible similarity of those two examples with the slaughter of the Britons at Pevensey in 491 AD. The two battles described by Orosius and Tacitus are not examples of blood-letting from battle frenzy, but descriptions of ritualistic slaughter and destruction.
 

authun

Ad Honorem
Aug 2011
4,927
Ahh that explains it. I wondered why Jordanes would write about the battle of Arausio.

Tacitus' account however is in keeping with other accounts of not sparing the enemy after invoking one god or another.

"And when the priests were ready to blow their trumpets on the seventh journey, Josue gave word to the whole of Israel, Now you are to shout; the Lord has put the city in your power. This city and all it contains is forfeit to the Lord; none must be spared except the harlot Rahab and those in her house." Joshua 6: 16;17 the city being Jericho.

"Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass." Samuel 15:2;3

Mars is the God of War, not Mercury. The Gauls have the same invocation:

"The whole nation of the Gauls is greatly devoted to ritual observances, and for that reason those who are smitten with the more grievous maladies and who are engaged in the perils of battle either sacrifice human victims or vow to do so, employing the Druids as ministers for such sacrifices. They believe, in effect, that, unless for a man's life a man's life be paid, the majesty of the immortal gods may not be appeased; and in public, as in private, life they observe an ordinance of sacrifices of the same kind. Others use figures of immense size, whose limbs, woven out of twigs, they fill with living men and set on fire, and the men perish in a sheet of flame. They believe that the execution of those who have been caught in the act of theft or robbery or some crime is more pleasing to the immortal gods; but when the supply of such fails they resort to the execution even of the innocent. "

"Among the gods, they most worship Mercury. There are numerous images of him; they declare him the inventor of all arts, the guide for every road and journey, and they deem him to have the greatest influence for all money-making and traffic. After him they set Apollo, Mars, Jupiter, and Minerva. Of these deities they have almost the same idea as all other nations: Apollo drives away diseases, Minerva supplies the first principles of arts and crafts, Jupiter holds the empire of heaven, Mars controls wars.

To Mars, when they have determined on a decisive battle, they dedicate as a rule whatever spoil they may take. After a victory they sacrifice such living things as they have taken, and all the other effects they gather into one place. In many states heaps of such objects are to be seen piled up in hallowed spots, and it has and often happened that a man, in defiance of religious scruple, has dared to conceal such spoils in his house or to remove them from their place, and the most grievous punishment, with torture, is ordained for such an offence." Caesar, Gallic Wars VI: 16; 17

If accounts of these rituals are true, the slaughter of people after invoking a God isn't necessarily a pagan germanic ritual. Roman sources tell similar stories for both Gallic and Germanic tribes. It might simply be a roman view of barbarians, although such slaughter was carried out by the romans too. Caesar himself boasts that his men killed 430,000 Gauls, mostly women and children. Stories about Gallic and Germanic ritual slaughter may have been invented to justify roman barbarity, or it may have just been normal for the time.
 
Nov 2008
1,180
England
If accounts of these rituals are true, the slaughter of people after invoking a God isn't necessarily a pagan germanic ritual. Roman sources tell similar stories for both Gallic and Germanic tribes. It might simply be a roman view of barbarians, although such slaughter was carried out by the romans too. Caesar himself boasts that his men killed 430,000 Gauls, mostly women and children. Stories about Gallic and Germanic ritual slaughter may have been invented to justify roman barbarity, or it may have just been normal for the time.
I detect subtle differences between Germanic heathenism and the religions you mention. Perhaps Pollington can best describe it:

Heathen Anglo-Saxons would probably visit the shrines of the gods as they would the graves of the dead, to maintain good relations and to seek help in just the same manner as they might seek help from living kinsmen. As with any family there had to be reciprocity: the gods and ancestors must be given their due in order to maintain friendship. A kinsman who only takes and never gives in return is not a worthy individual.

N. Price summed it up by writing, "The religion of the Æsir and Vanir demanded only a recognition that they existed as an integral and immutable part of human nature and society, and of the natural world....."

The ritual slaughter and destruction of accoutrements was in effect an act of "ring giving" to the god, Wodan (Odin), for him granting victory. Caesar killing Gauls and Joshua slaughtering the inhabitants of a city are not relay the same, even if the killing was done in the name of a god. Now the Gaulish religion may indeed have been close to Nordic heathenism.
 

authun

Ad Honorem
Aug 2011
4,927
I detect subtle differences between Germanic heathenism and the religions you mention. Perhaps Pollington can best describe it:

Heathen Anglo-Saxons would probably visit the shrines of the gods as they would the graves of the dead, to maintain good relations and to seek help in just the same manner as they might seek help from living kinsmen. As with any family there had to be reciprocity: the gods and ancestors must be given their due in order to maintain friendship. A kinsman who only takes and never gives in return is not a worthy individual.

N. Price summed it up by writing, "The religion of the Æsir and Vanir demanded only a recognition that they existed as an integral and immutable part of human nature and society, and of the natural world....."

The ritual slaughter and destruction of accoutrements was in effect an act of "ring giving" to the god, Wodan (Odin), for him granting victory. Caesar killing Gauls and Joshua slaughtering the inhabitants of a city are not relay the same, even if the killing was done in the name of a god. Now the Gaulish religion may indeed have been close to Nordic heathenism.
Many researchers do not think that Odin is the same as Woden. Odin is a god of war, the equivalent of Mars in the roman pantheon. Eoden is the father of the gods, the germanic equivalent of Mercury. Citing norse religion has nothing whatsoever to do with roman sources on celtic and germanic practices. It's like back projecting Islam onto early Christianity and concluding that Jesus was a prophet. It completely misses the trinitarian point of Christianity. If you are citing passages by roman sources like Tacitus and Orosius, then you must deal with the subjects raised by reference to contemporary evidence. Norse mythology is too far removed in time and space to be of much value.

If you want to know about the anglo saxon pagan shrines, you need to read Wilson's chapters in Anglo Saxon Paganism which deal with the weoh and hearg sites, The Place Name Evidence and The Archaeological Evidence, Temples and Shrines. Weoh shrines appear to be possessions of individuals and similar to those found in roman villas or on their estates. Hearg shrines or temples appear to belong to the people and are public, similar to the many roman dedications that we find, like the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus on the Capitoline. The anglo saxon shrines and temples serve the same purpose. There is nothing distinctive in the fact that they had them.

Rather than back project from Iceland or borrow ideas from Rome, to explain the germanic evidence, scholars of germanic paganism at the time of the Cimbri needs to start explaining what we do have, archaeology from the Braak Bog for example. These tall wooden figures, the man is 9' tall, the woman 7' 6" tall may be something to do with ancestor worship or the worship of a deity but, we don't know. They were found in a bog and were sacrificed, as were humans, weapons, ships and other artefacts. It is simply unsound to read a 12th or 13th icelandic saga and back project it on to the earliest germanic archaeological evidence and name them after norse gods. They are 1500 years apart. Nor are these figures unique. Such figures have been found from Schleswig Holstein to Norrland in Sweden. These figures are contemporary with Tacitus and Orosius.
 
Last edited:
Aug 2011
1,589
Sweden
To finish my input: one tale speaks that the old Viderik Verlandsson ("Hune smith") didn't want be buried in Halland were he ruled but instead in his native county Småland, and so he was buried on the other side of the border on Markaryd churchyard south of the church where people showed his stone slab with his mark, the hammer and pliers. I have not checked this information and if there really is an old grave stone on the spot.
Found a picture of the stone in question which still stands on the churchyard today. One source mentions that Hune smith was so brave in a war against Denmark that he was allowed to have his grave stone cut in this fashion. Age? Who knows...

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