Chapter 1: A Village is Born

Article Index
Chapter 1: A Village is Born
The Arrival of the Jutes
Arrival of the Jutes contd
How Certain Can We Be?
The Saxon Settlement
TheSaxon Village
All Pages

Before the Saxons

As the history of a nation unfolds it touches even the smallest community. Its position in East Kent makes this especially true of Great Mongeham.

King Eadbhert

Eadbhert was king of West Kent between 725 and 762. It appears that there were two kings of Kent at the time, Aethelbert II being king of East Kent. Eadbhert mentions Aethelbert in the same document. He gives as a reason for making the gift of land. ‘I ought to be of some use to the above-named church, for the eternal redemption of our souls - that is, mine and that of the most merciful king Aethelbert’. Just three years after the death of Eadbhert the Mercians gained control of Kent. By 825 it had become part of the kingdom of the West Saxons.

History was never made in our village, but much of the history of our nation unfolded around it. Therefore a history of the village cannot be written without reference to events taking place on a wider stage. The proximity of Europe, separated by not much more than twenty miles of English Channel made East Kent not only a centre of trade but also a target for invasion and an embarkation point for European campaigns. It comes as no surprise, then, that a Bronze Age boat, the earliest seagoing vessel yet discovered, should be found in Dover, just eight miles from Great Mongeham. Archaeological evidence suggests considerable activity in East Kent from the Neolithic to the Iron Age. When Julius Caesar invaded in 45 BC his ships landed at Walmer. Later he was to write “Of all the Britons the inhabitants of Cantium, an entirely maritime district, are by far the most civilised, differing but little from the Gallic manner of life. ” In 45 AD a Roman force led by Aulus Plautius landed at Richborough. Thus began nearly 400 years of Roman occupation.

altAlthough settlements existed at Dover and Richborough before the arrival of the Romans, and both continued as important ports, there is little evidence of a village at Great Mongeham until the arrival of the Saxons. Neolithic and Bronze Age axe heads have been found as has a Roman cremation urn. In the 1980s there was a major excavation at Mill Hill (which had been part of the parish of Great Mongeham before 1901) which uncovered finds dating from the Neolithic age to Saxon times, the most significant find alt probably being the grave of an Iron Age warrior from around 200BC. An excavation in a field between Cherry Lane and St. Martin’s Church made in 1980 uncovered evidence of a Belgic farmstead from the first century AD and there are fragments of Roman bricks and tiles built into the mediaeval walls of the church. However the first documentary evidence of a settlement at Great Mongeham comes from an eighth century document in which King Eadbhert makes a grant to the community of St Peter (later St Augustine’s Abbey) of “land in the south part of the ancient village called Mundelingeham”.




+1 #1 Anne 2011-03-16 16:08
:-) Very interesting. What a lovely English village Great Mongeham is.

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