The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.
Professor Boyden’s Introduction
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle was first compiled in the late 800s, probably in the kingdom of Wessex in southern England. Nobody knows who the author was, or who instructed him to compile it. Although it has come to be called a Chronicle, it is more accurate to call it an Annal, or a series of Annals. This means it records the events of particular years in chronological order. The entries for some years are very short, only one sentence long; entries for other years are much longer. Somewhat later than this, copies of the original were made and sent to other parts of England. The individual copies continued being updated after this. The original no longer exists, but there are seven complete and two partial copies in libraries in England. Although the seven copies record mostly the same information, there are some differences which reflect the interests of the men who updated them. The latest addition to one of the copies was made in 1154 AD. They were written in Anglo-Saxon rather than Latin. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is one of the most important sources for the early history of England; much of what we know about this period comes from it.
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
1 AD. Augustus reigned fifty-six winters; Christ was born in the forty-second year. Then three astrologers came from the east to worship Christ, and the children in Bethlehem were murdered in the persecution of Christ by King Herod.
6 AD. From the beginning of the world to this year there were five thousand two hundred winters.
16 AD. This year Tiberius succeeded to the empire.
26 AD. This year Pilate began to rule the Jews.
30 AD. This year Christ was baptized, and Peter and Andrew were converted along with James, John, Philip and the twelve apostles.
33 AD. This year Christ was crucified, about five thousand two hundred and twenty-six winters after the world began.
34 AD. This year St. Paul was converted and St. Stephen was stoned.
37 AD. This year Pilate killed himself.
44 AD. This year the Apostle Peter established a Christian bishopric in Rome…
46 AD. This year the Emperor Claudius came to Britain and conquered a large part of it, and he added the island of Orkney to the Roman Empire.
47 AD. This year Mark the evangelist in Egypt began to write the gospel.
50 AD. This year Paul was sent in chains to Rome.
62 AD. This year James, the brother of Christ, suffered.
63 AD. This year Mark the evangelist departed this life.
69 AD. This year Peter and Paul suffered.
71 AD. This year Emperor Titus killed eleven hundred thousand Jews in Jerusalem.
418 AD. This year the Romans collected all the gold in Britain. They buried some so nobody could find it and they took some to Gaul.
435 AD. This year the Goths sacked the city of Rome. Since then, the Romans have never ruled Britain. This was about eleven hundred and ten winters after Rome was built. The Romans ruled Britain a total of four hundred and seventy winters after Julius Caesar first arrived.
443 AD. This year the Britons sent messengers to Rome to beg for help against the Picts, but they received no help since the Romans were at war against Attila, King of the Huns.[footnoteRef:1] They then sent messengers to the Angles and requested help from the nobles of that nation. [1: Professor Boyden’s note: Pict was the Roman name for the people who lived in the eastern and northern parts of what is today called Scotland. The word literally means ‘painted,’ so the Romans called them Painted People. They were probably related to the Celts.]
448 AD. This year John the Baptist showed his head to two monks who came from the East to Jerusalem to pray.
449 AD. This year Marcian and Valentinian took control of the empire and ruled seven winters. It was during their time that King Vortigern of the Britains invited Hengest and Horsa to come to Britain to help him. They landed at a place called Ebbsfleet. At first they came to support the Britons, but they later fought against them. King Votigern ordered them to fight the Picts, which they did, and they defeated them wherever they went. They then sent messengers to the Angles and asked them to send more help. They described the worthlessness of the Britons and the wealth of the land. They then sent more help. The men came from three tribes of Germany: the Old Saxons, the Angles and the Jutes. The Jutes are the ancestors of the people of Kent, the Isle of Wight and part of Wessex. The Old Saxons are the ancestors of the people of Essex, Susssex and Wessex. The Angles, whose homeland remained deserted afterwards, are the ancestors of the East Angles, the Middle Angles, the Mercians and the people who live north of the Humber. Their leaders were the brothers Hengest and Horsa. Hengest and Horsa were the sons of Whitgils, the son of Witta, the son of Wecta, the son of Woden. Woden is the ancestor of all our royal family, and of that of the Southumbrians too.
455 AD. This year Hengest and Horsa fought against King Vortigern at the place called Aylesford. Since Horsa was killed there, Hengest took over the kingdom with his son Esc.
457 AD. This year Hengest and Esc fought against the Britons at the place called Crayford, where they killed four thousand men. The Britons then deserted Kent and fled to London in great fear.
465 AD. This year Hengest and Esc fought against the Britons near Wippedsfleet, where they killed twelve Britons. One of their thegns, who was named Wipped, was killed.
473 AD. This year Hengest and Esc fought against the Britons, and they took a great deal of loot. And the Britons fled the English like they would from a fire.
477 AD. This year Ella came to Britain in three ships with his sons Cymen, Wlenking and Cissa. The landed at the place called Cymenshore. They killed many of the Britons and drove others into the wooks.
485 AD. This year Ella fought against the Britons near Mecred’s Burn.
488 AD. This year Esc succeeded his father Hengest as king of Kent. He was king of the men of Kent for twenty-four winters.
490 AD. This year Ella and Cissa besieged the city of Andred and killed everybody there. Not one Briton was left there afterwards.
495 AD. This year two chiefs, Cerdic and his son Cynric his come came to Britain with five ships. They landed at a place called Cerdicshore and fought against the Britons the same day and in their sixth year in Britain they conquered the western part of Britain which is now called Wessex.
501 AD. This year Port and his sons Bieda and Megla came to Britain with two ships. They landed at the place called Portsmouth and immediately seized the land. There they killed a young British man of very high rank.
508 AD. This year Cerdic and Cynric killed a British king named Natanleod and five thousand of his men. The land right up to Charford was called Netley after him.
514 AD. This year the West Saxons came to Britain with three ships. They landed at a place called Cerdicshore. Stuf and Whitgar fought against the Britons and forced them to flee.
519 AD. This year Cerdic and Cynric took over the kingdom of the West Saxons. The same year they fought against the Britons and a place called Charford. And the kings of the West Saxons have ruled since that time.
527 AD. This year Cerdic and Cynric fought against the Britons in the place called Cerdicsley.
530 AD. This year Cerdic and Cynric took the Isle of Wight and killed a few men in Carisbrook.
534 AD. This year Cerdic, the first king of the West Saxons, died. His son Cynric succeeded him and ruled for twenty-six winters.
547 AD. In this year Ida, the ancestor of the Northumbrians kings, began his reign. He ruled for twelve years. He built Bamburgh Castle, which was first surrounded with a hedge and later by a wall.
552 AD. This year Cynric fought against the Britons at the place called Salisbury. He put them to flight. This year also Ethelbert, the son of Ermenric, was born. He was baptized in the thirty second year of his reign, the first king in Britain to be baptised.
556 AD. This year Cynric and Ceawlin fought against the Britons at Barbury.
560 AD. This year Ceawlin succeeded to the government of the West Saxons. This year also Ella succeeded to the government of the Northumbrians. Each of them reigned for thirty years. This year also Ethelbert succeeded to the kingdom of the people of Kent. He held it for fifty-three winters. It was in his time that Pope Gregory sent us baptism. That was in the thirty-second year of his reign. This year also the priest Columba went to the Picts and converted them to the belief in Christ… Their king gave him the island of Iona, where he built a monastery. He was abbot there about thirty winters, and he died when he was seventy-seven. His successors are still in that monastery…
568 AD. This year Ceawlin and Cutha his brother fought against Ethelbert and pursued him into Kent. And they killed two aldermen who were named Oslake and Cnebba at Wimbledon.
571 AD. This year Cuthulf fought against the Britons at Biedcanford. He captured the towns of Lenbury, Aylesbury, Bensington and Eynsham. He died the same year.
577 AD. This year Cuthwine and Ceawlin fought against the Britons and killed three kings, Commail, Condidan and Farinmail at the place called Dyrham. They took the cities of Gloucester, Cirencester and Bath.
591 AD. This year many Britons were killed at Woden’s Barrow. Ceawlin was driven out of his kingdom
592 AD. This year Gregory became pope in Rome.
596 AD. This year Pope Gregory sent Augustine to Britain with very many monks to preach the word of God to the English people.
597 AD. This year Ceolwulf became king of the West Saxons. He fought continually against the Angles, the Welsh, the Picts or the Scots.