answer is, in part at least, place-names. A pertinent study is
"The Anglo-Saxon Traveller" by Ann Cole in Nomina vol. 17 (1994); she
has produced a series of related articles (see esp. the English
Place-Name Society Journal vols 21, 22, 24 & 25), and her hypothesis
concerning the function of names containing Old English _ofer_ and
_o:ra_ ('a flat-topped ridge with a convex shoulder') as travellers'
guides receives useful discussion and illustration in the new book by
Margaret Gelling & Ann Cole "The Landscape of Place-Names" (2000),
pp.199-210. Note that this element is not found with the meaning
'landing place for boats'. There's no obtacle to connecting the
'Cumeneshore' of BCS 64 (Sawyer 232: a 13th c. MS) with the 'Cymenes
ora' of the A-S Chronicle s.a. 477. We may readily allow for the
intrusion of inorganic 'h' in document of this date, and a West Saxon
reflex 'u' of Old English 'y' is unexceptional. More problematic,
though they appear to have received no scholarly comment, are the
forms 'cymeneres horan' and 'cimeneres horan' in BCS 997 (Sawyer 1291:
14th/15th c. MSS) as quoted by Kelly in "Charters of Selsey"
(pp.85-91) - contrast Mawer & Stenton "The Place-Names of Sussex"
pp.83-4. I can't believe she made them up, but that extra syllable
seems to have escaped the attention of any other commentator.
Andy Horton <Glaucus@hotmail.com>
>Subject: [sussexpast] Saxon Signposts
>Anybody fancy pointing me in the right direction to answer the
>How did the Saxons navigate across land (on on their roads, what did
>they use instead of signposts and service stations?) ?
>Ideally, somebody has written a book, even though it may refer to
>earlier groups, Romans or even earlier people, preferably in Britain
Thanks you the helpful replies.
It does seem that Cymenesora near Sidlesham has the greatest claim to
the landing location of Aella and his crew.
2) "Landing place for boats" for õra (_o:ra_) was creative writing on my
part, with just a shred of old research. Best ignored.
3) When navigating by land, I am inclined to look for specific signposts
or else I would get lost. I a poor navigator.
4) The Gelling book is very interesting. best to order the new book
through the Library system as I have got the first version out on loan.
are other things I can ask about this interesting history, but I will
have a think first.
you for your reply John.
I hope you enjoyed looking up the reference.
I have seen some of this information before, and I really ought to
have a look at the original some time again.
Horton asked some time ago (14-1) where Cymenesora was- Aelle's
supposed landing-place (Anglo-Saxon Chronicle- date 477).
to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (AD 477) three Saxon ships arrived
in a part of Britain which was to be later known as Sussex at a place
called Cymenes ora. King Aelle (d. c. 514) accompanied by three sons Cymen,
Wlenca and Cissa landed from Gaul (France). In 465 (485) they fought the
British at what is probably a boundary stream called Mearc redes burna
John Mills, Archaeologist
West Sussex County Council- County Planning
> Anglo-Saxon Charters VI -"Charters of Selsey", ed. SE Kelly, British
Academy, pub. OUP, 1998 - page 12.
Copy in West Sussex Record Office, Chichester.
which Kelly identifies with Cymenesora, is mentioned in one
of the Selsey Abbey Charters, a supposed grant by Caedwalla of Wessex to
Bishop Wilfrid in 673 (?for 683) of 55 hides in and around Selsey, "seal island",
south of Chichester.
"from the entrance of the harbour which is called in English Wyderinges
[Pagham Harbour]" the boundary ran along the coast to "Cymen's bank or foreshore [ora]".
Andy Horton notes:
It is not clear to me how Wyderinges equates with Pagham harbour.
would take a linguist to let me know if Cumeneshore could be the same
place as Cymeneshore. Do we have the original spelling of Cumeneshore?
word 'õra' meaning shore or landing place for boats (debatable),
so any name ending in 'õra' like Bognor could give the origin of Owers.
question that would need an Anglo-Saxon historian to answer is the
accuracy of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. It is reasonably well known (if I
know it, it must be) that there are omisions in the record, e.g. there is
plenty of evidence of Germanic tribes (e,g. Saxons and others) settling in
the Thames valley which is not recorded in the AS Chronicle (which was
compiled at a later date), but is there any evidence of entries being
proved to be wrong? (e.g. names of places entered proved to be another
Horton asked some time ago (14-1) where Cymenesora was- Aelle's supposed
landing-place (Anglo-Saxon Chronicle- date 477). I recollected a reference, but
have only just got around to checking it up.
is a useful discussion of the location in Anglo-Saxon Charters VI -
"Charters of Selsey", ed. SE Kelly, British Academy, pub. OUP, 1998 - page 12.
Copy in West Sussex Record Office, Chichester.
which Kelly identifies with Cymenesora, is mentioned in one of
the Selsey Abbey Charters, a supposed grant by Caedwalla of Wessex to Bishop
Wilfrid in 673 (?for 683) of 55 hides in and around Selsey, "seal island", south
a number of the supposed early charters, this one is in fact much later
date, though incorporating earlier material. Kelly suggests that this and
another charter for a grant of land in this area were based on a later
8th-century original, which itself contained genuine material. This charter,
however, was probably drawn up in the 10th century - and the boundary clause
which mentions Cumeneshore is probably of the same date. The charter was
probably drawn up to strengthen Selsey's sometimes rather dubious claims to land
in the Selsey area - in dispute with perhaps equally dubious claims by the
Archbishopric of Canterbury, to whom the manor of Pagham belonged in the Middle
mentions that there have been doubts about the Cumeneshore reference being
genuine- could it have been an invention by a 10th-century scribe?- but is
convinced that the boundary clause, while certainly not of the 670s or 680s, was
perfectly straightforward in 10th-century terms. The names needed to be genuine
- this was intended to be legal document and the bounds of the land had to be
identifiable from contemporary names and landmarks in Selsey.
relevant part of the boundary clause states that "from the entrance of
harbour which is called in English Wyderinges [Pagham Harbour]" the boundary ran
along the coast to "Cymen's bank or foreshore [ora]". Cumeneshore is thought to
have given rise to the name of The Owers, a series of now offshore banks
extending out from Medmerry Farm in Selsey parish. Then the bounds turned
towards Rumbridge (alias "thri beorg"- three barrows), a lost name in Wittering
and on the Earnley boundary- also very interesting to the archaeologist!
shoreline on the west side of Selsey "island", where Medmerry is located,
has been eroding steadily over centuries, and is still actively eroding. By the
16th century earlier ancient landmarks here could no longer be identified.
course, if the Cumeneshore= Cymenesora identification is accepted, it still
does not mean that Cymen son of Aelle or Aelle himself, King of the South
Saxons, actually landed here!
the above is of use
West Sussex County Council- County Planning
you! Yes, finding the places referred to in these entries from the
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and other historiographic sources referring to the
post-Roman period is a source of continual debate. As for your question
about the accuracy of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, I'm sure you know it was
originally put together under the auspices of King Alfred. The earliest
entries--those dealing with the post-Roman period--are based on legend and
hearsay, and the points on which it has been disproven are plentiful.
Despite the attestations of Bede and the Chronicle, 447 was almost
certainly not the first time a Saxon tribe came to Britain. Most likely,
Aelle's son Cymen was invented to explain the place name "Cymenesora"; such
things are quite common in medieval literature. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
is an invaluable source--but only for a later era. For the post-Roman
period, it is highly mistrusted as a historical source. David Dumville is
the primary champion of such minimalism in the history of post-Roman
Britain; if you are interested in this subject, you may wish to find some
of his books.
interpretation of the transition between the post-Roman and
Anglo-Saxon periods is largely correct. It was not always and everywhere
violent, and I think Nicholas Higham (_Rome, Britain and the Anglo-Saxons_)
laid out a good case that the "invasions" were really the actions of small
intrepid warbands, using guerrila tactics, such as one often finds in
non-agricultural groups (Keeley, _War and Civilization_). That means that
even your idea of 10%, round as it is, is probably too high! However,
there was a certain amount of violence. Such evidence is usually scanty
archaeological: there's little archaeological evidence for WWII, but thanks
to historical records, we can be sure it happened. Our historical records
of the post-Roman period are not nearly so full, but whether its the Scots
who kidnapped St. Patrick or the Saxons Gildas believed to be a latter-day
Babylon, we can be sure that post-Roman Britain did not experience any
idyllic peace. And should we expect such, with the rest of the Roman world
in such straights that most good Christians believed the end times had
come? Yet, Britain, it would seem, was in a much better situation than
most of Europe--and so, might be considered idyllic comparatively.
your contention is borne out by archaeological evidence: most
Anglo-Saxons lived peacefully with most Romano-British. It was the actions
of the warrior elite, however, which became set down in history and
ultimately determined the fate of the fledgling nation. It was, it seems,
a much more complicated situation than previously imagined. The modern
English population owes more, probably, to the Romano-Britons than the
Anglo-Saxons. But the Anglo-Saxons, though the minority, came to exercise
political sovereignty, and therefore, the descendants of Romano-Britons
became Anglo-Saxons in culture. We should remember that, biologically,
races do not exist; it was a common culture that made Romano-Britons
distinct from Anglo-Saxons, and when the Romano-Britons adopted (or had
inflicted upon them, depending on your view) Germanic culture, they became
as Anglo-Saxon as their overlords.
Editor, the Saxon Shore