History Files


Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms

Saxons & Jutes of Southern England




MapWihtware (Victuarri / Isle of Wight)

It seems highly possible that British Inis Vectis (from the Latin Insula Vectis) was a possession of Caer Gwinntguic during the gradual breakdown of central control in the fifth century. Midway through that century the island was taken over by Jutish settlers. The Meonware Jutes seized territory near Southampton Water quite early in the process of settlement, and those of them who made the short journey across the Solent took the local place name, Vectis, becoming known as the Wihtware (Victuarri, or Uictuarii), the people of Wight. The records of the West Seaxe later ascribed the conquest to themselves, but Jutish Ynys Weith probably did not become a West Saxon possession until it was seized in 530 by Cerdic and Cynric (although even this event may be a later invention - the real date of the West Saxon invasion is more likely to be 686).

The Jutes' stronghold was Wihtgarabyrig, the fortress of the men of Wiht. The stronghold's former British name was forgotten, but it was almost certainly located at the same place, modern Carisbrooke Castle, which overlies a late Roman military structure which could well be a Saxon Shore fort.

(Additional information from The Oxford History of England: The English Settlements, J N L Meyers.)

c.450 - 455

The Meonware sail around Southampton Water and along the Solent to settle in eastern Hampshire. They have either left the main host of Jutes who are just starting their conquest of Kent or, having made their way across the North Sea to join their countrymen, they decide to sail further and found a colony which is not under the control of their probably Angle masters. Alternatively, they could be the descendants of settled laeti who have integrated into British society and whose existence only becomes noteworthy from this point onwards. Further settlements are established on Inis Vectis.

Byzantine coins on the Isle of Wight
The Jutes of Wight and Hampshire appear to have maintained trading links with the Byzantines, as findings in both areas have attested. These Byzantine coins were part of a scattering of thirty-five found on the Isle of Wight

530 - 534

FeatureThe island is apparently ruled directly by Cerdic, king of the West Seaxe (according to their later records). Wihtgar (if he exists) is installed as a client king in 534, probably upon Cerdic's death. The Jutes of Wight retain probable family links to the royal house of the West Seaxe (Alfred the Great's mother descends from them), although these are more likely established after the 686 invasion.

534 - 544


Buried at Wihtgarabyrig. Possibly an eponymous founder figure.

534 - 544


The name, meaning stump, may have been a nickname.

544 - 661

The island's rulers are unknown; perhaps it is ruled directly by the West Seaxe, but it is just as likely that the island's Jutish inhabitants enjoy a period of peace and isolation from the mainland.


Wight is ravaged by Wulfhere of Mercia, who forcibly converts the populace to Christianity. The island is subsequently controlled by the Suth Seaxe (from 675), but as soon as Wulfhere leaves, the populace revert to paganism.

685 - 686

Arwald / Atwald

From the Suth Seaxe? Killed by the West Seaxe.


FeatureMapThe West Seaxe King Caedwalla ravages the island and annexes it to his kingdom. Some scholars accuse the West Saxons of pursuing a policy of ethnic cleansing against the Jutes, but this may be confined to the aristocracy who had ruled the island. The Jutes of Wight become the last Anglo-Saxons to accept Christianity, including the two younger brothers of Arwald who, as claimants to the Jutish throne of the island are subsequently executed by Caedwalla. Arwald's unnamed sister survives, as the wife of the king of Kent. She is a direct ancestor of Alfred the Great.