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European Kingdoms

Northern Europe


Waegdaeg's Folk (Angles) (Germanics)

The story of the Angles is one of migration in Europe until as late as the eighth century AD. To start with, they gradually headed west from what is now Poland around the first century AD until, by the fourth century they had settled in modern central Denmark, replacing or absorbing the semi-Germanic Cimbri and Teutones who had existed there in diminished numbers since the first century BC.

The region gradually gained the name of the new settlers, becoming Angeln, Angel, or Angulus. By the fifth century, this covered the territory between the River Eider in the south (now in Schleswig-Holstein), bordering the Saxons, to the River Kongeaen in the north, bordering the Jutes.

Angle settlement also extended farther southwards into Germany and along the Frisian coast of the Netherlands. King Alfred of Wessex was careful to note this himself, suggesting a wide-ranging area of settlement for the Angles, and a relatively large population.

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 (see feature link for more).

One of the sons of Woden, Wægdæg was claimed as the originator of the line of princes which migrated to Britain in the fourth to fifth centuries. He and his followers appear to have been settled in an existing British territory known as Deywr, presumably as laeti, settled mercenaries, in the service of the Britons.

Once their masters at Ebrauc had weakened enough, these laeti spotted the opportunity to found their own independent Anglian kingdom called Deira, their pronunciation of the British name. That kingdom became one of the principal parts of the later Northumbrian kingdom.


(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information by Edward Dawson, 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, from the Historia Brittonum (The History of the Britons), Nennius (J A Giles, Ed & Trans, 1841, published as part of Six Old English Chronicles (Henry G Bohn, London, 1848)), from The Oxford History of England: Anglo-Saxon England, Sir Frank Stenton, from A History of the English Church and People, The Venerable Bede (Leo Sherley-Price translation - revised by R E Latham), and from External Link: An Anglo-Saxon Dictionary (Bosworth and Toller, 1898, p 728).)

Wægdæg / Waegdaeg

Son of Woden of Angeln. Originator of the Deiran Angles.

Wægdæg is a mystifying name. The first part, 'waeg' appears to mean 'a way' in the form of a path. 'Daeg' is 'day', still also in use in modern German as 'dag'. Wægdæg would appear to mean something along the lines of 'the path to day', or 'day's path'. Quite possibly a true leader's name if ever there was one.

Map of England AD 475-500
In the last quarter of the fifth century AD Saxons were starting to take firm control of the Thames valley region, as shown on sequential map No 2 of this series (click or tap on map to view full sized)

His son, Sigegar, has a name which breaks down into 'sig', meaning 'victory', plus 'gar', meaning 'spear'. So his name would have been 'victory spear', clearly a warrior's name.





The name Swebdaeg is another odd two part name. 'Swebban' (a verb) is 'to put to sleep', a euphemism for 'kill' in many cases. 'Daeg' is 'day', making him 'killing day'. Possibly in reference to a particularly successful battle?

His son is Sigegeat, with 'sig' again meaning 'victory' and Geat being the name of a powerful Scandinavian group of Germanic people who are also very relevant to the early English, being especially important in the epic poem, Beowulf. Does 'the Geat of Victory' suggest part of Sigegeat's ancestry, perhaps?

The remains of the defensive bank at Roman Derventio (modern Malton) in Britain are shown here, which formed the main military post in the region of Deywr - home of Wægdæg's Folk once they had settled in Britain in the fifth or early sixth centuries


Son. Possibly part-Geat?


Sæbald / Saebald

Son. Led the Angles as laeti into Deywr?


Saebald's name is obscure, but if it breaks down into 'saec', meaning 'fighting', cognate with 'sig', and with the 'ch' sound lost, plus 'bald', meaning 'bold', then his name would mean 'bold fighter' - highly appropriate for what may be a key achievement in the history of his folk.

He apparently leads his people into Deywr in Britain to settle as laeti, mercenaries in the Roman tradition who have been granted their own land in return for their services. In 559, his descendant founds the independent Anglian kingdom of Deira.

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