Anglo-Saxon Civilization


The religious beliefs of the Germanic tribes (Angles, Saxons and Jutes) had reflected the primitive man’s fear of the incomprehensible forces of nature. Their highest heathen deity was Woden, the war god, since wars were so important things in those Dark Times of European history. The elements were commanded by Thor the god of thunder, Freia was the god of love and fertility, Tiu commanded the darkness. The names they gave to the week showed which day was sacred to the Sun, the Moon and the Night, and then it followed the day which devoted to the war god, then came the thunder god and after this the love goddess – appeared on the scene to restore the ravages of darkness and war and thunder, followed by Saturn the god of agriculture and merry-making, and then Sunday came again celebrating the life-giving Sun.

The Anglo-Saxons had no big cities, only scattered villages and townships that is the Lord’s house surrounded with the wattle-and-mud huts of the villages. The huts of the Anglo-Saxons were very primitive made of wood and clay, with no chimney over the open hearth but a hole in the roof to let the smoke out and to let the light in. The hearth was usually nothing more complicated than just a large flat stone in the middle of the earthen floor.

The lord’s house had a large yard with a lot of household buildings. It was protected by a stout fence supplemented by a sort of circular fortifications, or mound.

The interior of the lord’s house was that, a spacious hall where the lord had his meal with his family and did a lot of entertaining, received guests and spent a social life. The light came through the small holes in the walls covered with oiled linen. The walls were hung with bright patterned curtains, it was only a part of the hall where the lord received the honoured guests, but other walls were bare.

The hearth was nothing but a broad flat stone and the blackened roofbeams were just as much the feature of the lord’s hall. The food was very simple: salt meat, beef, pork or mutton, eaten off big dishes with no forks, but knives were used to help the fingers. Drinking was not mentioned at the early stage but it started at a much advanced society. The drinking table manners were that the Anglo-Saxons used drinking cups with rounded bottoms, to be held in the drinker’s hands until quite empty. Their drinks were mead, fermented honey, malt brewed ale. The Anglo-Saxons had learned to make wine from Romans but it was sweetening with honey because on the mainland the wine was too sour to have it.

The ladies did not stay too long at table but withdrew to their part of the hall or to their room and the men stayed to drink more until there nothing left to drink. The ladies welcomed all sorts of wandering minstrels who would sing, play or tell stories.

After feast the guests stayed to sleep in the hall on the floor keeping their weapons close by for emergencies. The family went to their chambers.

When the Anglo-Saxons came to the British Isles they brought nothing except runic writing. They had no literature, their writings were a proverb or magic formula carved upon some ornaments or weapon in runes.

Long before the introduction of Christianity and even after, the Anglo-Saxons used pagan- sounding charms. The charms were practiced not only by professional witches and spellbinders whom the Anglo-Saxons fully trusted in controlling the natural elements and the Evil Spirit, but by ordinary peasants as well.

Here are some examples of the primitive charms: “Garmund, thane of God, find the cattle and lead the cattle, and have the cattle, and hold the cattle, and bring the cattle home…”

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