Chapter 1: A Village is Born - The Saxon Settlement

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
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The Saxon Settlement

Handmaid of God

We can glean information about what was being produced on a Mongeham farm at that time from a document surviving from about 850. Ceolnoth, Archbishop of Canterbury,alt had persuaded Lufu, “handmaid of God” to grant a valuable food-rent on her property at “Mundlingham” to Christ Church, Canterbury. She may have been a widow who had taken religious vows for the “good of her soul” or a survivor of one of the Kentish 'double minsters' that had been dispersed by the Viking raids. Minster-in-Thanet was destroyed by a Viking attack in 853. In the document Lufu desired “to give annually to the community at Christ Church, from the inheritance which God has given me, and my friends have helped me [to secure], sixty ambers' of malt, one hundred and fifty loaves, fifty white loaves, one hundred and twenty 'alms-loaves', a bullock, a pig, four sheep, and two weys of lard and cheese.

In the absence of conclusive archaeology the site of the first settlement must be pure conjecture. The Cherry Lane excavation suggests that it may have been on the site of a Romano British settlement. Excavations in a field opposite the church have uncovered the probable site of a thirteenth century village. Mundel might well have established his settlement there. We can be a little more definite in answering why and how. A population explosion of Germanic peoples in the third and fourth centuries saw wave after wave of migrants leaving their native heartlands. On reaching the coast some became accomplished sailors, raiding the shores of the Roman Empire. Many became foederati (mercenary groups) in the Roman Army. The Jutes, natives of the Jutland peninsula of Denmark, were under such pressure. Colonisation of Kent was a logical next step. That they were invited by the British as foederatiis also quite plausible. As with Mongeham (see map on previous page) the earliest Jutish settlements grew up at inlets along the Kent coast, so arrival by sea is again highly probable.

Whatever its true history, by 762 Mongeham was a well established community. Eadbhert had no need to describe the boundaries of the land he gave “because they are fixed on all sides by the inhabitants without the slightest doubt”. With a lack of archaeological or documentary evidence we can only conjecture what the community was like. Again we must depend on more general evidence although this time it can be supplemented by local topography and a couple of surviving documents. Mongeham was an agricultural community, probably typical for the time. Mundel’s settlement had been established among fields which had been cultivated at least since the Iron Age. Pytheas of Massalia (now Marseilles) visited the coast of Kent in about 322BC and ‘”saw plenty of corn in the fields in the south-east”. In 55 BC Julius Caesar’s soldiers were attacked when foraging in Celtic barley fields between Ripple and Ringwould.


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

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