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Anglo-Saxon Britain

Thoughts on the Meonware

by David Slaughter, 2 March 2008

Editor's Note: While this five-part feature and its two-part addendum series do contain a good deal of valid historical and archaeological discussion, they also appear to take some liberties in terms of filling in large gaps between early records (usually via Bede or the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle) without any apparent historical basis. As such, they should be approached with some caution.

Part 5: Conjectural language timeline for the Meonware

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Period Dates Language use
Old Jutlandish I c.460 - c.550 Old Jutlandish spoken, with Old English understood
Old Jutlandish II c.550 -c.640 Old Jutlandish and Old English spoken bilingually.
Anglo-Jutish c.640 - c.730 Old Jutlandish displaced by Anglo-Jutish.
Meon Old English c.730 - c.820 Anglo-Jutish displaced by Meonware Old English.
Late Meonware after c.820 Jutish identity kept, but the Old English of Wessex spoken.

The conjectured osmosis of Old Jutlandish blending with Old English, over a period of twelve notional generations, has been influenced by two main factors. The first being the commonality between English and Danish place names which survives today. The endings '-sted/stead', '-by', and '-ing', and the use of 'holm', are to be found in both countries.

The second factor is the Saxon character of most place names, both in the Meon Valley and in neighbouring areas, as recorded in Domesday Book. There are exceptions of course, such as Fareham. The conclusion above is also set against the supposed historical background which has been discussed above. Namely, that while remaining conscious of their ancestry, the Jutes had come to identify with the West Saxon kingdom.

As to their tribal government, apart from the authority of their hereditary chieftains each settlement would have held thingsteads, or communal meetings, similar in function to the Saxon folkmoots. Unfortunately, we simply do not have enough evidence to try to reconstruct a theoretical list of minor Meonware kings.

It can be suggested, perhaps, that the Jutes would have looked for regal protection from the West Saxon king in Winchester, a royal centre which was only only some twenty-four to thirty-two kilometres away.


General Bibliography and other sources

Main List

Alcock, Lesley - Arthur's Britain, 1978

Anglo-Saxon Chronicles - recorded in writing from circa AD 890

Bede - Ecclesiastical History of the English People, AD 731

Berresford Ellis, P - The Story of the Cornish Language, 1990

Chambers Dictionary of Etymology - introductory sections, 2004

Collins English Dictionary - introductory sections, 2000

Glob, P V - The Bog People, translated from Danish by Rupert Bruce-Mitford, 1972

Google Earth Hacks - Nordby, a Danish village, for a view of Urnhoven Thingstead

Google Earth Hacks - Urnhoven Thingstead, for a large scale map of Denmark

Historical Maps of Hampshire - late 16th to late 18th centuries

Johnston, Rev James B - The Place Names of England and Wales, 1914

Nennius - Hanes y Brythoniaid, 810

Slaughter, D H - Nothgyth Quest Hypothesis, the History Files, 2008 (see 'related links' in the sidebar)

Thomas, Beth & Wynn Thomas, Peter - Cymraeg, Cymrâg, Cymrêg, 1989

Supplementary List

Beowulf, Anon, circa 725

King Arthur - the text of Michael St John Parker, 1996

Mallory, Sir Thomas - Le Morte d'Arthur, 1485

Mallory, Sir Thomas - The Tale of King Arthur, 1485

Part 1: Intro
Part 2: Timeline
Part 3: Summary
Part 4: Later Meonware
Part 5: Language Timeline
The Viking's feast

The Viking and his wife feasting, from Hans Andersen's story, the Marsh King's Daughter (the king probably derived from an underworld god). The Andersen tale describes the impact of the eastern Christ on the northern Odin, and also uses the time warp of Fairyland. There must have been similar circumstances amongst the Meonware of the seventh century.



Images are free from copyright. Text copyright © David Slaughter, BA Hons, ATC (Sussex), Blue Robe Order of the Welsh Gorsedd. An original feature for the History Files.