Were Hengest and Horsa Real?

Dec 2011
2,764
Yes - the population was estimated at 65. It was a rough estimate, but if we accept it as true for the purposes of this discussion, we can work backwards. Half are going to be women, leaving us with about 32 men. Of those 32 men, some will be too old to fight and others will be too young to fight. It's likely that at least a few would have been too ill to fight for whatever reason. I think I originally stated a couple of dozen fighting men, which is probably too generous, given that would constitute about two thirds of the entire male population.

The problem with the 'pesky enemy' hypothesis is that it stretches credulity to argue that such a small group of people could not be shifted, especially when they are living on an open country site. Piracy is basically seaborne reiving. The essentials are the same - get in and out fast before the country is raised against you. We have plenty of evidence for how this system worked on the Anglo-Scotish border of the 15th to 16th century. Even large bands of raiders (including the notable Carleton's Raid) could not afford to hang about too long as eventually they would be faced with a restless mob of locals keen to get their property back.

The other problem is that so far as I am aware, the usual evidence associated with early Anglo-Saxon foederati (weapons sets. metalwork etc) are absent from Mucking.

Our Mucking farmers might have been part time federates, but unless they had a death wish or the Britons were so weak that a handful of tough Anglo-Saxons could hold the entire area without any fear of retribution, the notion of Mucking as an unwanted pirate settlement just doesn't cut it.

The other hypothesis to explain the choice of Mucking as a site is that they wanted a good field of vision so they could clear out if they saw trouble coming up the river. There's no evidence for that hypothesis either, but it's no less valid than the 'commanding the Thames' argument.

Glad you got Green's book. It goes a bit wobbly when she starts trying to rework a line in Y Gododdin and I'm not persuaded by the Lindisfarne argument, but the early chapters on British Lindes are extremely good. Hope you enjoy it.
Very unlikely that wife, grandparents and children turned up at Mucking with the first hired mercenaries, what evidence do you have for that? The population could be way more than 65 in the early stages, 65 adults is the average over 300 years.

Plenty of high ground in that area of the river to have look out posts, Hadleigh Castle for example.
Hæsten's fort was most likely attacked from the land, with Alfred's army arriving unseen through the forest, Ben/fleet means wood/water.
 
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Nov 2008
1,092
England
This is an interesting report about the archaeological dig. It mentions the remains of Anglo-Saxon halls being found, and this suggests it was an important site, not the little village that has been suggested. This report also indicates that the site, of strategic importance, may actually have had a military function. Scroll down the page to the Anglo-Saxon information.

Mucking archaeological dig | Historical places in Thurrock | Thurrock Council
 
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Nov 2008
1,092
England
Perhaps Hengest and Orsa could be battle names of real chiefs of saxon warriors. Someone speculated that also Arthur was a battle name instead of a real name.
I have read that this is a possibility. I cannot at the moment locate the information, but Michael Swanton hinted at this in his introduction to his translation of "The Two Offas". The idea does have some merit.
 
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Jun 2017
34
Thailand
This is an interesting report about the archaeological dig. It mentions the remains of Anglo-Saxon halls being found, and this suggests it was an important site, not the little village that has been suggested. This report also indicates that the site, of strategic importance, may actually have had a military function. Scroll down the page to the Anglo-Saxon information.

Mucking archaeological dig | Historical places in Thurrock | Thurrock Council
The provisional date range of this Saxon occupation is from early 5th century to 7th century. The amount of early 5th century domestic pottery is notable, while from both huts and graves have come late Roman military belt fittings.
 
Aug 2011
4,674
Out of interest, do we have any other fifth or sixth-century Germanic Cynrics in our Continental sources?
Cyne is the anglo saxon form of proto-germanic kunjan. The following names, Conrad/Konrad, Cynric, Coenwulf, Kunibert, Kunimund, Cynewulf; Kunigunde, Kunrada, Kunheide, Cynethryth; Chindasvinth; Adelchind, Drudchind, Widukind, Willekind all contain this element. Cynebald, Cyneburg, Cyneburga, Cynefrith, Cynefrið, Cyneheard, Cynemær, Cyneric, Cynesige, Cyneweard all appearing, along with others in PASE.

Ric appears in many germanic names and is from PIE reg: Sigeric, Theodoric, Eric, Godric, Alaric, Gaiseric, Hunneric, Gaderic and many more. The reason why I wrote that I have never heard of a brythonic use of 'ric' is because there are no actual examples, just extrapolations from old irish riagol from latin regula, rule. The germanic use is very well attested, whereas a brittonic examples are absent and suggested links tenuous.
 
Nov 2008
1,092
England
Cyne is the anglo saxon form of proto-germanic kunjan. The following names, Conrad/Konrad, Cynric, Coenwulf, Kunibert, Kunimund, Cynewulf; Kunigunde, Kunrada, Kunheide, Cynethryth; Chindasvinth; Adelchind, Drudchind, Widukind, Willekind all contain this element. Cynebald, Cyneburg, Cyneburga, Cynefrith, Cynefrið, Cyneheard, Cynemær, Cyneric, Cynesige, Cyneweard all appearing, along with others in PASE.

Ric appears in many germanic names and is from PIE reg: Sigeric, Theodoric, Eric, Godric, Alaric, Gaiseric, Hunneric, Gaderic and many more. The reason why I wrote that I have never heard of a brythonic use of 'ric' is because there are no actual examples, just extrapolations from old irish riagol from latin regula, rule. The germanic use is very well attested, whereas a brittonic examples are absent and suggested links tenuous.
Thank you for this interesting and well researched post.
 
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Mar 2015
1,275
Yorkshire
The Mucking excavation was carried out in the 1960s. It was first of its type and was not of a standard we would expect today. The large labour force of "shifting" students, incredibly poor soil preservation conditions and the pressure of gravel mining which had already destroyed a good part of Cemetery One, all resulted in (and I read between the lines in a bit of a cock-up) . As the writer of the final report (in 1993) points out in the 1960's, Grubenhauser (Sunken floor buildings) were believed to be dwellings and its clear the the archaeologists concentrated upon these - even here, with quote "meagre results" from the huge amount of effort. It is now understood that these buildings were primarily ancillary buiildings and workshops, especially for Textiles with some ceramics and storage.

Here is what she had to say (Page 86)

mucking 1.jpg

I found this in a paper given by Heinrich Harke - Early A-S Structure P 136 and 140 of "The A-S from Migration Period to 8th Century" edited by John Hines.

"There was been a large amount of speculation about Sunken Floor Buildings (SFB) in early A-S settlements. On most sites they seem to have been used for ancillary buildings, occasionally associated with metal working eg Mucking (Actually when you read the Mucking report it was slag that was found not metal production itself and in a Grubenhauser already being gobbled up by the gravel excavation). Overall there can little doubt about the link between these buildings and textile production. The exclusive association of textile tools with female burials is strongly suggestive of such production being in the hands of women.The even distribution of weaving sheds with sites means that they were not to create a female activity within the area for the the entire settlement. Rather each household had its own weaving shed (if it had one)."

Strangely enough he goes on to claim that Hamerow (the author of the Mucking report) calculated a population of 94 plus or minus 10% for for 8 to 10 farmsteads in Mucking - in the report she says 65! With 77 Grubenhauser found - seems very low to me (but then I am not an historian).

BTW - Carolingian sources suggest an average family size of 5.79 and practically zero grandparents.

In the report there is mention of another A-S settlement at Linford, very close to Mucking which had been destroyed to an unknown extent by Quarrying but which yielded the oldest pottery.
 
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Jun 2017
34
Thailand
Cyne is the anglo saxon form of proto-germanic kunjan. The following names, Conrad/Konrad, Cynric, Coenwulf, Kunibert, Kunimund, Cynewulf; Kunigunde, Kunrada, Kunheide, Cynethryth; Chindasvinth; Adelchind, Drudchind, Widukind, Willekind all contain this element. Cynebald, Cyneburg, Cyneburga, Cynefrith, Cynefrið, Cyneheard, Cynemær, Cyneric, Cynesige, Cyneweard all appearing, along with others in PASE.

Ric appears in many germanic names and is from PIE reg: Sigeric, Theodoric, Eric, Godric, Alaric, Gaiseric, Hunneric, Gaderic and many more. The reason why I wrote that I have never heard of a brythonic use of 'ric' is because there are no actual examples, just extrapolations from old irish riagol from latin regula, rule. The germanic use is very well attested, whereas a brittonic examples are absent and suggested links tenuous.
*sek- | Origin and meaning of *sek- by Online Etymology Dictionary
Seax - Wikipedia

"Saxon" (and presumably "seax") is related etymologically to the English words "scythe", "scissors" and "saw" (and ultimately to Latin based words including "section" and "segment") as well as directly to the modern roofer's "zax" instrument
 
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