History Files


European Kingdoms

Northern Europe




Benoc's Folk (Angles)

FeatureWoden, legendary king of Angeln, is claimed as an ancestor figure by many of the Anglian, Jutish and Saxon tribes which migrated to Britain. Although entirely impossible to prove, one theory is that this semi-mythical figure represents a powerful Anglian king whose many sons and their descendants found or created positions of power as the Anglian peoples fragmented before and during their migration. One of the sons of Woden, Benoc was the originator of the line of princes which migrated to Britain in the late fourth to mid-fifth centuries and created the Anglian kingdom of Bernicia, based on an existing British territory known as Bernaccia.

It seems likely that princes who were not in power were tolerated in many cases if they remained loyal to the father or brother or cousin who was in power, and if they brought their band of warriors to support the relative when a battle was to be fought. One of Benoc's descendants was Ęthelfrith of Bernicia. He lost his brother and his brother's warband when both perished in battle alongside Ęthelfrith and against the Scots of Dal Riada. The same role is probably one with which Benoc and his siblings was familiar, and which Benoc's descendants, Esa and Eoppa, are posited to have undertaken before migrating to Bernaccia (see the list, below).

As for the name Benoc itself, it looks like an acquired nickname, not a given name. 'Ben' is a wound, while -oc is obscure, perhaps a short form of 'ócusta', an old word that means 'armpit' in Saxon, but also 'throat' in Scandinavian dialect. Bosworth and Toller give this as the meaning of the word 'oc'.

(Additional information by Edward Dawson, and from The Oxford History of England: The English Settlements, J N L Meyers, from Ulwencreutz's The Royal Families in Europe V, Lars Ulwencreutz, from the Textus de Ecclesia Roffensi per Ernulphum Episcopum (The Story of the Church of Rochester up to Bishop Ernulf), known as the Textus Roffensis or Annals of Rochester, and from the Historia Brittonum, Nennius, and also from External Link: An Anglo-Saxon Dictionary, page 728, by Bosworth and Toller, 1898.)


Son of Brand, grandson of Baeldaeg. Originator of the Bernicians.







Ingui is a form of the old name 'Ingvi', from which derives the major Germanic tribal group name, Ingvaeones. Ingvi plus '-on' (the German/Celtic plural) plus '-es' (the Latin plural).

fl c.500?

Esa / Oesa

Son. Settled his people in Bernaccia as laeti?

Esa and Eoppa may live amongst the East Angles as supporters of the kings of those recent arrivals in Britain, to whom they could well be related. They would be fulfilling the same role of tolerated prince(s) that had probably been 'enjoyed' by their ancestor, Benoc, and also by the brother of a descendant, King Ęthelfrith of Bernicia. This arrangement is permitted as long as they bring their respective warbands to any fight in support of the king.

Venta Icenorum
An artist's reconstruction of the Roman town of Venta Icenorum, the main settlement of the British tribe of the Iceni which was put under terminal pressure by the arrival of the East Angles in Britain

Is it Esa who leads the settlement of his band of followers in Bernaccia as laeti, settled mercenaries? They are certainly present there two generations later, when they rebel against their British overlords, but the details of their arrival have been lost to history.

fl c.520?



547 - 559


Son. Took over the Celtic Bernaccian kingdom.


Ida assumes control of the British kingdom of Bernaccia during an apparent power vacuum. The kingdom, which is known as Bernicia by the Angles, becomes one of the strongest of all during subsequent centuries.