Were Hengest and Horsa Real?

authun

Ad Honorem
Aug 2011
4,951
Supplying numbers for this period is guesswork , but using your numbers I believe it would be possible for those 200,000 Anglo-Saxons to eventually multiply and become the majority if the Britons only suffered great mortality during Justinians plague. That and also the marginalisation of the British being forced to live on poor farmland.
The point about Elmet is that there were still british kingdoms east of the Pennines 70 years after the events of 536 AD and there were other British kingdoms in the west where the plague hit hardest, places like Gwynedd and Reghed. Bede mentions Britons in Aethelfriths time and he also mentions them in his time. We know they existed, so how many? You suggest that the numbers were marginal. What were the factors that allowed their numbers to grow to the levels that we see today, 46% of the male lineages in England and 62% across the entire genome? My view is that they were not as marginalised as you think and, whilst a factor, the plague was not as decisive as you suggest.

The modern data speak for themselves and point to a survival of considerable numbers of romano britons in england. So, how did they survive?
 
Likes: TEFLing
Jun 2017
80
Thailand
...using your numbers I believe it would be possible for those 200,000 Anglo-Saxons to eventually multiply and become the majority if the Britons only suffered great mortality during Justinians plague. That and also the marginalisation of the British being forced to live on poor farmland
the AS advanced began immediately after the triple eruption of 537/540/547 and the plague then occurring

such seems to suggest some semblance of isolation & degree of deep division between the pair of populations
 
Likes: Aelfwine

authun

Ad Honorem
Aug 2011
4,951
the AS advanced began immediately after the triple eruption of 537/540/547 and the plague then occurring

such seems to suggest some semblance of isolation & degree of deep division between the pair of populations
It suggests a separation between the population in the east and the population in the west but does not say anything about the composition of those populations. Kenneth Dark posits that there were still 'british provinces' in the east well into the 6th century, possibly as late as 570AD. He bases his work on the distribution of early cremation cemetaries. The question is, in the east, how did those areas coalesce into anglo saxon kingdoms of the 7th century?

cremation cemetaries.jpg


Compare with the distribution of finds with runes which predate 650AD, the Elder Futhark

page_pre650_runes.gif


and how runic finds expand during the first phase of anglo saxon runes, from around 650.

earlyrunefinds2.gif
 

Attachments

Last edited:
Nov 2008
1,219
England
The point about Elmet is that there were still british kingdoms east of the Pennines 70 years after the events of 536 AD and there were other British kingdoms in the west where the plague hit hardest, places like Gwynedd and Reghed.
If the plague did not travel to the east and affect the Angles and Saxons, it would not have affected an eastern British kingdom like Elmet. Furthermore, we do not have the mortality figures for the plague as well you know.
Bede mentions Britons in Aethelfriths time and he also mentions them in his time. We know they existed, so how many?
Neither of us can answer that.

What were the factors that allowed their numbers to grow to the levels that we see today, 46% of the male lineages in England and 62% across the entire genome?
Now obviously those figures you quote are from today, not from the year 819. Those figures obviously are derived from centuries of immigration into England starting - say - with the Norman conquest, then of course we had the Angevin conquests of Wales and Ireland which must have caused at least a trickle of new comers. Then of course the times of the Tudors and Stuarts saw the de facto unification of Britain with the ability of people to cross borders. Then we had substantial numbers of Huguenot refugees coming to Britain. The biggest factor, of course, leading to great numbers migrating into England was the Industrial Revolution and its long lasting effects. Somehow, Authun, I believe you would have to look very hard to find a pure blooded Jute anywhere. Now Authun you are intelligent and you know all of this, and it causes me to suspect your motives in making those posts. You are either playing a game or being deliberately provocative. I do not know which.
 

authun

Ad Honorem
Aug 2011
4,951
Furthermore, we do not have the mortality figures for the plague as well you know.
So why do posit that the plague was responsible for the anglo saxons overturning the majority british population? You did write "I believe it would be possible for those 200,000 Anglo-Saxons to eventually multiply and become the majority if the Britons only suffered great mortality during Justinians plague.

I'm not being argumentative. I am simply trying to establish what you think might have happened. Singular answers like 'the plague' don't adequately explain the process, especially when we have scant evidence for it.

Now obviously those figures you quote are from today, not from the year 819. Those figures obviously are derived from centuries of immigration into England starting - say - with the Norman conquest, then of course we had the Angevin conquests of Wales and Ireland which must have caused at least a trickle of new comers.
The 54% / 46% male lineages is derived from modern populations but the 38% / 62% is derived from ancient samples, near Cambridge.

Those figures obviously are derived from centuries of immigration into England starting - say - with the Norman conquest, then of course we had the Angevin conquests of Wales and Ireland which must have caused at least a trickle of new comers. Then of course the times of the Tudors and Stuarts saw the de facto unification of Britain with the ability of people to cross borders. Then we had substantial numbers of Huguenot refugees coming to Britain. The biggest factor, of course, leading to great numbers migrating into England was the Industrial Revolution and its long lasting effects.
Effectively, you are suggesting that a 200,000 anglo saxon population grew whereas the british population declined from between 1m and 2m but then subsequent migrations from Wales, Ireland, France swelled their numbers again. That's what I am after, a model or process, a testable working hypothesis which can be posed as a question, 'where do all today's britons in England come from?' If claims are made that arrival of anglo saxons in Britain explain the change in language, settlement patterns and virtual disappearance of the romano british archaeology, then the existence of large numbers of Britons in the modern population has to be explained somehow.


Now Authun you are intelligent and you know all of this, and it causes me to suspect your motives in making those posts. You are either playing a game or being deliberately provocative. I do not know which.
Neither, I am searching for a testable hypothesis. If you reject one where british women married anglo saxon males which would, in theory, provide a route for the switch, then what does one replace it with? There is no point going over the same old ground, were Hengist and Horsa real and is their story the basis for the transition from sub roman britain to anglo saxon england. Re-reading the sources will provide no advance. New data, ie more archaeology, biological data, both human and animal, advances in linguistics and so on allow us to create new working hypotheses and, if they can be framed in testable terms, they can be examined and either rejected or accepted.

For me, the interesting question is how did a smaller number of anglo saxons cause an almost total linguistic and cultural change in that part of Britain now called England between the end of the 6th and the start of the 9th cent. ie roughly 200 years? I think one needs a significant but by no means overwhelming influx of anglo saxons in tandem with a much lower growth rate amongst the Britons and a higher growth rate amongst the anglo saxons. I am just interrogating possible explanations rather than rereading old sources.
 

authun

Ad Honorem
Aug 2011
4,951
Is this information derived from the PoBI study conducted by the Oxford geneticist Sir Walter Bodmer a few years ago?
No, it's from Capelli. Thomas refers to it: "However, using southern Danish and northern German populations as the descendants of putative Anglo-Saxon source populations, their median estimates for Continental introgression into England ranged between 24.4 and 72.5% (mean 54.1%). "

Leslie, working on Bodmer's data estimated "We estimate the proportion of Saxon ancestry in C./S England as very likely to be under 50%, and most likely in the range 10% ‐ 40%."

Schiffels found that: "on average the contemporary East English population derives 38% of its ancestry from Anglo-Saxon migrations."

Its important to remember that they are all looking at different things and in different ways but it's all pointing to a significant but not overwhelming level of migration - significant enough to replace the language and culture leaving little trace of the former. For me, that's the interesting aspect - how does that happen?
 
Likes: TEFLing

Haesten

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
2,872
We know that a ruling elite can't change the language at grassroot level from the Norman/Angevins. The Norman/Angevin elites who married English women were speaking English by the third generation as first language.
 
Likes: TEFLing
Nov 2008
1,219
England
No, it's from Capelli. Thomas refers to it: "However, using southern Danish and northern German populations as the descendants of putative Anglo-Saxon source populations, their median estimates for Continental introgression into England ranged between 24.4 and 72.5% (mean 54.1%). "

Leslie, working on Bodmer's data estimated "We estimate the proportion of Saxon ancestry in C./S England as very likely to be under 50%, and most likely in the range 10% ‐ 40%."

Schiffels found that: "on average the contemporary East English population derives 38% of its ancestry from Anglo-Saxon migrations."

Its important to remember that they are all looking at different things and in different ways but it's all pointing to a significant but not overwhelming level of migration - significant enough to replace the language and culture leaving little trace of the former. For me, that's the interesting aspect - how does that happen?
We still need to be cautious because these are studies and not conclusive, that is not written in stainless steel. The Weale, Weiss study of 2002 was interesting, suggesting a possible mass migration of much more than 50%. Other studies put the numbers lower. Another factor which needs considering is that Bodmer`s study shows no Viking (Danish, Norse) input, causing some "Viking" academics to question the data.

New study reignites debate over Viking settlements in England

Anyway, in my opinion the invasion/migration of Germanic peoples from the continent had to be large enough to cause the native population, whatever their number, not only to change their language, but also their religion and culture. Despite its flaws, I think the Weale Weiss study of 2002 is nearer the truth.

There is no point going over the same old ground, were Hengist and Horsa real and is their story the basis for the transition from sub roman britain to anglo saxon england.
I disagree with you here. The written evidence has to come into play along side the genetic studies, the archaeology and so forth to work towards an answer. Other factors such as climatic change, and even epidemics need to be studied too if we are to progress in the quest. Now the written evidence with tales of warfare, ethnic cleansing, downtrodden natives and so on cannot be discounted or ignored, no matter how much it irritates minimalist archaeologists, and there are a lot of those.

Anyway, Authun , our views are converging and seem to be close. Is our little war over?
 

Similar History Discussions