The winds of change over an ancient land


In this article I want to introduce the ancient past of the British Isles and its settlement by our distant kinsfolk, and in part two of this article, offer my opinion as to where it may be heading in the future. I will not clutter up the piece with too much dry, specific detail, but will keep it general and give you an outline of our past. I will recommend pertinent reading material at the end of the article for those interested in researching any facts and figures further. In essence, this is an introduction to our ancient forebears and a glimpse of the richness of our common ancestral heritage.

The word ‘indigenous’ can stir up all kinds of feelings in people and can be the cause of a lot of acrimony and heated debate. It is also a word used by those of certain political persuasions to legitimize the rights of a ‘first people’ in overseas locations, whilst at the same time being used to deny the heritage and culture of a ‘first people’ much closer to home.

For a real insight into the mayhem caused when an inconvenient truth gets in the way of a firmly established supposition, one only has to look at the case of Kennewick Man in the United States. The chance discovery of the ancient skeleton of a man, who died between 5,650 and 9,510 years ago, has caused absolute uproar. The reason for the fracas being that the skeleton is not related to any North American Indian tribe. The closest relative is the Ainu people of Japan, a people indigenous to those islands and not related to modern Japanese people.

Native Americans have tried to claim the skeleton as one of their own so that they can dispose of the remains. The presence of this skeleton in ancient America casts doubt upon their own claims of being the indigenous people and they quite obviously see that as a threat. After all, what happened to Kennewick Mans people, were they displaced by Native Americans, or did they move on or die out naturally?

Our ancient past and its link to us was wide open for the dissemination of disinformation and the blatant distortion of facts, until the wonderful new medium of genetics appeared on the scene. For the first time we could deal in simple raw facts, not on assumptions and propaganda peddled by vested interest groups of whatever political leaning. At last we had concrete, tangible knowledge of ourselves, our haplogroups and our bloodlines.

So what has the cutting edge science of genetics done for the peoples of the British Isles and for the United Kingdom in particular? For one it has caught out the British government in an outrageous lie. In April 2009, more than 122 Members of Parliament signed a declaration which affirmed that the British Isles did not have an indigenous population. This declaration was signed by MP's from all three main political parties.

The government has thus officially stated in Europe that there are no indigenous people in the UK, meaning that there are no ‘first people’, no population rooted in the ancient past. In the stroke of a pen they have made foreigners of Britain's native peoples, and denied them the cultural protections afforded the native peoples of other nations around the world. 

Most people in the UK have no idea that such a declaration has ever been signed as the matter was not highlighted in the press or general media, and no objections were made. It is a shameful and self-serving document and is easily on a par with Neville Chamberlains infamous piece of paper in respect to the  Munich Agreement, and the Anglo-German Declaration of 1938.

Highly respected genetic studies over the past few decades have clearly proven the declaration of April 2009 to be utter and complete nonsense. It is nothing more than dishonest and misleading propaganda, designed to further a specific political agenda in regard to mass immigration.

The revelations of recent genetic investigations are that the British Isles contain very ancient DNA indeed and that there is a definite indigenous population, a true ‘first people’. More correctly, it should really be ‘first peoples’, who all began to arrive in this land at around the same time a very long time ago. 

An example of this was the discovery in 1903 of an ancient skeleton in a cave near Cheddar, Somerset. It was later carbon dated and found to be around 9,000 years old. This skeleton was to become known to the world as Cheddar Man. In 1996, DNA samples were taken from local residents in order to compare them with DNA that had been extracted from the skeleton. The tests stunned the scientific community. Exact DNA matches were found in local people living today, proving a direct line of descent through 9,000 years. Form the end of the last Ice Age to the modern day, in an unbroken genetic line. How could anybody realistically deny these people are indigenous to these islands and a 'first people'?

This knowledge of ancient lineage has unfortunately been seen as political dynamite by some with a dangerous leftist agenda. It has truly upset the applecart of entrenched indoctrination in the British educational system. It is a sad reflection upon modern British society and its political class that it should do so. Needless to say, the story of Cheddar Man does not appear in the history lessons of UK state schools as it begs too many awkward and inconvenient questions.

Retreat of the Ice

We do not know exactly how long ago the first human set foot in what is now the British Isles, but it was almost certainly many thousands of years prior to the last great Ice Age. The coming of the ice wiped the slate clean, like an eraser across a blackboard, all settlement vanished. The last great Ice Age began over 29,000 years ago as the world grew colder, with the ice reaching its greatest expansion between 26,500 and 19,000 years ago. At this point most of what is now the British Isles was covered in an ice sheet that was many miles thick. The surrounding landmass was uninhabitable polar desert.

With the coming of the ice, humanity in Europe was forced to retreat and hunker down in Ice Age refuges in order to survive. The European refuges were situated in the modern day areas of the Pyrenees, the Balkans and Ukraine. It was an extremely testing time for our ancient forebears, but they survived and even flourished. Around 16,000 years ago the thaw set in and the ice began to retreat back towards the polar region. As the ice melted and the glaciers retreated, mankind gradually left the refuges and moved north, and once more began to populate the land.

The peoples who were to form the native populations of the empty landscape arrived from different directions. The people of the Pyrenees followed the coastline and populated Cornwall, the west of England, Wales, Ireland and the west of Scotland. The people of the Balkan refuge entered the country via Germany and the Low Countries, across the great plain that existed where the North Sea does today, and settled in England and up to the Scottish borders.

The people of the Ukrainian refuge arrived via the Baltic region and Scandinavia, and settled in the east of Scotland and northern England. This re-population event happened in successive continuous waves, but always appeared to follow the same migration pattern. These settlements gave us the basic genetic haplogroups that still exist to this day in over 80% of the indigenous population, for these early pioneers are the indigenous people of the United Kingdom. They are our founding forefathers.

Around 13,000 years ago there was a climatic blip and the ice advanced again. However, it was never cold enough for the settled indigenous people to completely leave and seek a southern refuge as before, although of course, life was harsh in the colder climate. Around 11,500 years ago, the ice finally retreated for the last time and a rapid thaw and warming set in.

The warming process continued for at least 6,000 years as the ice gradually gave up its grip and contracted back towards the Arctic Circle. People moved back and forth up and down the coast, and freely across the vast open plain that we know today as the North Sea. As the worldwide temperature climbed, so sea levels rose dramatically, and around 4,000 years BC, the last vestiges of the great plain were inundated and drowned. The familiar British Isles as we know them today, our enchanting ancestral homeland, were finally moulded into their near present form.

Invasion & Displacement

Until very recently, the discredited theory of invasion and displacement held sway. I well remember from my secondary school days back in the mid to late 1970’s, being told that we were all immigrants. How various waves of marauding barbarians from continental Europe had invaded, slaughtered and displaced the populations who were in the land at the time. The Celts were pushed into Wales by rampaging Saxons, Jutes and Angles, and the Vikings decimated the Saxons in turn in the north and East Anglia. The only problem with all this supposed violence and genocide is that it never really happened, certainly not on any significant scale anyway. Modern genetic research tells us that much, and the genetic evidence does not lie it simply lays the true facts before us.

State education in the UK since the 1960’s seems to have been a hostage of politically correct sentiment, and has been hijacked in order to reinforce an insidious political social engineering agenda. Modern research and genetic evidence has now placed a very large spanner in the works of that particular enterprise. This is probably why history, especially British history, has almost been expunged from current school curriculums in favour of subjects that raise fewer awkward questions.

This is extremely cynical, as a people need to be aware of who they are and where they came from in order to feel a real sense of belonging to a land, and to know where they are going. Human beings have an inbuilt need to feel part of a group, to feel a sense of belonging, for their own psychological welfare. In simple terms, people need to feel rooted and comfortable within their environment.

Genetic research has proven beyond any shadow of a doubt that we are today who we always have been, descendants of those brave and hardy hunter-gatherers, who first arrived in this land many thousands of years ago. This knowledge has of course been seized upon by various organizations of every hue, to support their views of how society should be today. Regardless of who uses what, the bare facts are out there. They tell the story of the people who inhabit this land now, and who have done so in the past, with no political slant whatsoever. Facts are always neutral, only the people who use them for political ends are not.


As we have already seen, the history of the people of these islands really begins at the end of the last Ice Age, when the great melt and global warming allowed people to once again return to the lands they had once roamed. At that time, we are talking about a few thousand people living by hunting and gathering, it would have seemed like a very empty and lonely place, but full of animals to hunt, fish to catch and berries and nuts to gather. It was a veritable ‘Garden of Eden’.

Life went on and the population slowly increased until a major event in human history arrived on these shores, the coming of agriculture. It changed everything. It was once thought that agriculture arrived in the British Isles with a major migration/invasion of people who originated in the Middle East. The genetic records have disproved this. There certainly were people who arrived here as farmers, but there was never a mass migration. It was mostly the idea that migrated, the very concept of farming itself.

Stonehenge - enigmatic and mysterious

Agriculture first made landfall in Ireland. It followed the old established route along the coastline from Iberia and then on up to the British Isles. At around the same time, the knowledge of agriculture was also making its way up the Danube and along the Rhine, until around 6,200 years ago it arrived in eastern England. 

We should also remember that this new way of living arrived during the New Stone Age, the Neolithic, a period in time that saw the building of Stonehenge, Avebury Stone Circle and many other great stone monuments. Agriculture brought in new religious practices, even new religions. It brought in new ideas, not the least of which was the concept of land ownership and the sense of being rooted to a certain place. It was the beginning of the settled world that we recognise today.

The Age of Metal

The next major event in our history was the coming of the Bronze Age, when stone truly gave way to metal as Bronze replaced Copper. The Bronze Age arrived in the British Isles around 4,000 years ago. There were copper miners established in Abergele, Wales, at least 3,700 years ago. They appear to have arrived from Iberia and have left a distinct genetic imprint in the local area that was physically visible to the Romans, and is still strong today.

The Bronze Age in these islands was a golden era. The weather was good, there was enough land to go around and the population was at a good sustainable level. There was trade and migration between mainland Europe and its kindred folk, along the old established trade routes. The people of this age were dynamic and active. Any movement of people into these islands was small and consisted of our cousins across the water, people who in all likelihood even shared a common language or languages.

The golden age of bronze drew to a close with the arrival of iron into the British Isles around 2,800 years ago. The Iron Age had begun and it once again tipped the world upside down. Bronze had formed the major portable method of exchange, especially in the form of bronze axe heads. With the coming of iron, the Bronze Age economy of Europe collapsed. The economic collapse also coincided with a change in the climate in Britain. It became far wetter and less hospitable to farming and was a time when major defensive structures were built. It was a time of conflict for land and resources, an age when the great hill forts were constructed.

As with all economic implosions, a recovery in commerce and economic activity eventually happened. There was a thriving trade with the near continent and far beyond. Phoenician traders probably began visiting Britain in search of minerals around this time, bringing with them exotic trade goods from the Mediterranean. Once again there was a minor flow of people between Britain and Europe, but nothing that would leave a significant imprint on the indigenous genetic record of the islands. The British Isles were an integrated part of Europe, yet separate and distinct.

The Great Celtic Myth

The Insular Celts of the British Isles were an 18th century invention. The people of ancient Rome knew of a people on the other side of the Alps, in modern day France, whom they called Gauls. The ancient Greeks knew of them too, and referred to them as ‘Keltoi’. In the same way that we know the people who inhabit the Indian sub-continent as being ‘Asian’, the word Keltoi or Gaul, was a generic term for a people who were not the same, but seemed so to outsiders.

Around 390 BC, these ancient Gauls crossed the Alps and sacked Rome itself. They were driven back by the Romans and contained beyond the Apennines, in the Po Valley. To the Romans the area became known as Gallia Cisalpina (Gaul this side of the Alps). The sacking of Rome occurred at a time of great expansion for the people of Gaul. They attacked Delphi in Greece before being beaten off, and even set up a Kingdom as far away as Turkey in the area around modern Ankara. To this day the area is still known as Galatia. These very people are mentioned in the New Testament of the Holy Bible, for they are the very Galatians of that era.

During the 19th century a great falsehood distorted the historical record in respect of the origins of the ‘Celts’. It gave Central Europe as their original homeland. The distortion originated in an ancient Greek text, which stated that the first ‘Keltoi’ were to be found at the head of the river Danube. Unfortunately, the ancient author believed the head of the Danube was actually in the Pyrenees. The origin of the ‘Keltoi’ was certainly in the area of the Pyrenees, but nowhere near the head of the Danube. However, that falsehood held sway for many generations and a lot of misguided scientific theories were based around it.

This lead to the mistaken certainty in more modern times, that the ‘Celts’, as they have been known since the 18th century, originated in Central Europe in the area of Switzerland and Austria, and that they spread out from there taking their art and culture with them.

The land of Gaul itself was divided into distinct tribes, even if the Romans referred to them all collectively as ‘Gauls’. Julius Caesar in his famous self-penned account of his campaigns in Gaul, titled ‘The Gallic Wars’, states clearly in the opening paragraph that ‘All Gaul is divided into three parts’. These included the Belgae, who dwelled in the land between the river Rhine and the river Seine, and south of the river Seine dwelled the Celtae. Caesar states repeatedly in his accounts that the Belgae were closely related to the Germanic tribes. It is most likely of course, that they spoke a Germanic language. It is the Celtae who would most likely have spoken ‘Gaulish’, an old version of modern Gaelic. It is from the Celtae that the modern word ‘Celt’ is derived.

Here we see those old migration patterns and bloodlines emerge once again. The Celtae of the south would have most likely been the descendants of those ancient hunter-gatherers from the old Pyrenees Ice Age Refuge. The Germanic Belgae on the other hand, would most likely have been mainly the descendants of the people from the Balkan refuge.

The Celts and the British Isles

Today there is a firm belief amongst those who choose to call themselves Celts, that there is a division between themselves and the English. In terms of genetics there is most certainly a division, but it is a very ancient one, stretching back to the migrations that followed the last great Ice Age. It is not a Dark Age division, for that supposed division is based upon the manipulation of history by those with a Celtic nationalist agenda to peddle. Its origins lay in the 18th century, in the form of the Welsh scholar and nationalist, Edward Lhuyd.

'Celtic' warriors - possibly Belgae or Celtae

Lhuyd noted the similarities of language between the Bretons, Cornish, Welsh, Irish and Scots and assumed a great wave of invasion had occurred, as the Celts moved into the British Isles and occupied them. This belief was built upon by later scholars of the 19th century who dated the Celtic invasion to around 300 BC. No mention is made as to the fate of the native people. Presumably they were wiped out in some genocide type settlement and displacement event, that beloved solution of far too many academics who probably also still believe in the authenticity of Piltdown Man.

It was Lhuyd who gave the name Celtic to the related Gaelic languages of Breton, Cornish, Welsh and Irish and Scots Gaelic. The label also came to describe the peoples of those nations, giving them an invented racial and cultural cohesiveness. It was blatant social engineering for political ends, 18th century style.

This manufactured solidarity took hold in the public imagination and was cemented by that great Scottish author, Sir Walter Scott. In 1817 he was already referring to Scottish Highlanders as Celts. It had taken only a hundred years to establish the Celts as an undeniable fact in the hallowed halls of academia and learning. This in turn led to the theory of a Central European homeland for all Celts, and that above mentioned invasion of the British Isles around 300 BC. Unfortunately, it is all utter and complete nonsense, even if it is ‘feel good’, homely, romantic nonsense.

The True Nature of the Isles

As we have already seen, people were continually entering this land for thousands of years after the last great Ice Age. That initial migration set the genetic boundaries that endure to this day. There is indeed a real division, but it has existed for many thousands of years. The initial migrations drew a rough genetic boundary that ran from Cornwall to the north of Scotland, and included the modern day English county of Cumbria. To the east of this boundary were other peoples who most likely spoke other languages. None of these peoples of the British Isles ever referred to themselves as being ‘Celtic’ at any time prior to the politically inspired writings of Edward Lhuyd.

We know that the people of the west of the British Isles spoke one or more of the Gaelic tongues. Not because there had been a great Celtic invasion, genetic studies tell us that quite clearly, but because the people were historically related to each other and at one point in the distant past, would have shared a single parent language.

Julius Caesar tells us there were differences between the tribes of the Britons, and he clearly states that the tribes of the south-east were most closely connected to the Belgae of northern Gaul. They shared a culture, a language and even tribal names. There is strong speculation that these tribes spoke a Germanic language, not a Gaelic one. Likewise, the tribes of north-east England and Scotland may have spoken a Scandinavian related language, but nobody as yet really knows for sure. What this clearly shows though, is that the British Isles were not dominated by one language, or by a single people called ‘Celts’. They were not even infused with a sense of belonging to a specific ethnic grouping, such concepts only evolved many centuries later. What they did have in common, is the fact that they were all indigenous to these islands and deeply rooted to them.

Roman Britain

The intimate contacts between the Belgic tribes of south-east England and Romanised Gaul, prior to the Roman invasion and occupation of 43 AD, ensured that the Roman presence was not quite the tempest of change one might have expected. It is quite amazing just how rapidly the Belgic parts of Britain settled into being a wealthy province of the Roman Empire. In truth, the Belgic ruling classes had already become Romanized in many of their ways, and they were the only rulers in the British Isles to have minted coins prior to 43 AD.

At the time of the invasion and conquest of 43 AD, and the earlier invasion by the forces of Julius Caesar in 55 BC, some of the British tribal leaders immediately allied themselves with the Romans; it was a pragmatic decision. The Belgic tribal leaders already knew of the advantages to be gained by siding with Rome, and the wealth and influence that it could bring them. The discovery of Fishbourne Roman Palace in 1960 clearly showed the luxury that the local tribal leader was living in. Constructed in around 75 AD it was originally built for Cogidubnus, the powerful leader of the local Belgic Atrebates and a loyal and trusted friend of Rome.

The conquest of Britain by Rome was more problematic in the non-Belgic tribal areas and it needed much firmer measures to bring those areas under control. Rome waged a particular war against the pagan Druids, who held so much power and influence over the tribes.

The Roman Conquest did not much effect the genetic structure of the British Isles. Where it did have an enormous effect was on culture and infrastructure. The concept of city life was developing prior to the Roman arrival but things really took off as the Romans set about stamping their mark on the land. Villas, roads, laws, dress, food, architecture, religion, it all imprinted on the native population and led to a fusion of cultures. However, outside the cities, life went on pretty much as normal and the people still continued to live in the traditional roundhouses and spoke their local language. Latin was used for trade and commerce, especially internationally, very much as English is today.

Britain was to officially remain a province of the Roman Empire for almost four hundred years. That is an enormous amount of time. In modern terms, it would be from the time of King Charles I to the present day. When the Western Empire collapsed under the weight of internal strife, economic chaos and barbarian invasion, the Romano-British were cast adrift. They still looked to Rome for assistance for decades afterwards, but Rome by then had already succumbed to the barbarians.

In 407 AD the last Legion, the Second Augusta, was withdrawn to Gaul by Constantine III, who was named emperor by Roman troops in Britain. Hadrian’s Wall was abandoned and in 408 AD, devastating raids by the Picts occurred in the north. This was to be only the beginning of many Pictish incursions. In exasperation, the local Britons expelled the last of the Roman officials and set about a defence of their land. The once mighty Empire was crumbling, collapsing under an onslaught of barbarian peoples from the east. The abandoned Romano-British were left to defend their land as best they could. In 410 AD official Roman rule finally came to an end in Britain.

This was the beginning of the Dark Ages. It ushered in a long period of chaos and change for the people of the islands, as the Roman economy faltered and imploded. Villas were abandoned and fell into ruin, cities were deserted, roads decayed and all writing ceased. It was a time when the very light of civilization itself appeared to be extinguished. Within the span of a generation, the world had utterly changed. Yet despite this, the Romano-British still thought of themselves as loyal subjects of the Empire and in 446 AD they sent an appeal to General Aetius, for help in repelling the invading Picts of the north and raiders from the sea. By that time however, Rome was almost finished and had no help to give; the appeal fell on deaf ears. The Britons were left to endure warfare and famine.

Around 450 AD the Saxon Advent is thought to have begun, with waves of fierce and savage Saxons, Angles and Jutes pouring into an almost defenceless land, rampaging and slaughtering the natives as they went. Very soon they had pushed the Romano-Britons into the Atlantic fringes, Cornwall, Wales, Cumbria and Galloway. That at least has been the historical belief so far, and that is how it was taught in schools when I attended them. However, the only problem with that dramatic scorched earth theory is the fact it is completely wrong.

The south-east of England almost certainly already had a Belgic, Germanic speaking population, cousins to those Germanic peoples across the North Sea. The continental Saxons, and there is some debate as to whether they came from Saxony or the bottom end of Denmark, certainly did migrate to Britain but it was never in vast numbers, and they did not decimate the native population. The scenario was more than likely a takeover by ruling elites and their followers, with some degree of migration and settlement. It is estimated that no more than 5% of new genetic material input arrived in England during these turbulent times, hardly a wipe out of the local population.

There is also simply no evidence of mass slaughter and displacement. There are no mass graves of victims, no villages put to the torch. What evidence there is in the historical record, shows clear signs of continuity in agriculture and normal village life; In essence, people certainly came in and settled, but the local population were not wiped out, they simply absorbed the incomers and bent to the rule of their new lords.

Even more tellingly, there has never been any trace of a Saxon Longhouse discovered in England. This was a traditional farmhouse found in the Saxon homelands, this hints very strongly of a lack of displacement in respect to the native population, and the immediate imposition of a foreign culture. The genetic records also argue the case for indigenous continuity. The very word Saxon is another convenient label, just like the word Celt, for the evidence is not watertight in respect of where the ‘Saxons’ arrived from. It could have been Frisia, Germany, Denmark or more likely, a combination of all three. At this time the collapse of the Western Roman Empire saw great movements of people into Western Europe and the entire continent was in a state of flux for centuries afterwards.

The Angles

The Angles were a Scandinavian people from Angeln in Denmark, a place not far from the German border. They arrived in England at the same time as the Saxons. They arrived in greater numbers and settled in the north of England and East Anglia, which was named after them. The name England derives from them too, its original form being Angleland.

There was an invasion and some settlement, and as far as the genetic and archaeological records go, there was no wipe out of the native population. Once again it was a change of rulers with some inward migration. The Angles did have a very strong cultural influence in East Anglia, as can be deduced by the name of that region. 

They also had a very strong influence in the north, especially in Northumberland. Strong linguistic traces can still be found in the local dialect of Northumberland today. Eventually the Angles and Saxons became one people, the Anglo-Saxons, and one nation was created. This Germanic born nation we now call England.

The Coming of the Vikings

In 789 AD the first recorded Viking raid on England occurred. Burnt villages, theft, rape and murder ensued. In 793 AD the whirlwind finally hit home with a furious Viking raid on the Christian monastery of Lindisfarne in Northumberland. The sea raiders attacked and murdered the monks at the monastery, burned its precious books and stole its religious treasures. It was an assault on Christendom itself and the beginning of a raging tempest of mayhem and violence against England.

Nobody knows exactly why this storm from the north erupted when it did, but it is likely that climatic conditions and land hunger in the native Viking lands caused them to board their ‘dragon ships’ and look for booty and settlement land in the British Isles. At first the Viking raids avoided the Saxon lands but fell heavily on the land settled by the Angles. The Vikings who raided the east coast of England were Danes, whilst those who raided the west of Scotland, the north west of England and the east coast of Ireland were Norwegian Vikings.

The Danes were the kindred of the Angles and in all probability spoke the same language. It was therefore much easier for them to raid, settle and be accepted in Anglian lands than in the Saxon lands of the south. In 865 AD the Danes formed a great army and invaded the land of the Angles and seized control. Their new realm later became known as ‘The Danelaw’. This aggressive and threatening act of invasion and settlement was to lead them into direct conflict with the Saxons of the south.

The Vikings arrive in the British Isles

The fighting was bitter and the year 870 AD was the low watermark for the Saxons. Only Wessex still resisted the Danes and King Alfred was steadfastly rallying the forces of Somerset, Wiltshire and Hampshire for a future and possibly final campaign against the Danes. In 878 with his forces gathered and finally ready to take on the Danes, he defeated them at the great Battle of Ethandun, which is said to have been fought near the modern town of Westbury in Wiltshire.

In the year 889 or 890 AD an agreement was signed between King Alfred and Guthrum, the leader of the Danes, and an official border was established between the two peoples. In 891 AD Guthrum died and a power vacuum developed in the Danelaw. This was a serious threat to the peace. In the year 892 or 893 AD the Danes attacked Alfred’s lands. Around 897 AD King Alfred finally defeated the Danes who retreated north to Northumberland or returned to Denmark; the Danelaw ceased to exist and became part of Alfred’s kingdom.

King Alfred the Great of Wessex is the only king of England ever to the called ‘The Great’ and the first to style himself as King of the Anglo-Saxons. He is supposed to have died in the year 901 AD, although this is not certain.

The Normans

The year 1066 AD was a seismic event for the British Isles. The recently crowned King Harold of Wessex had only just defeated an invading army of Norwegian Vikings at the battle of Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire, when he had to turn the army around and march them to Sussex to meet the invading Normans. It has been argued that Harold should have rested his army and gathered more men before meeting the Normans in open battle, but that is not what happened. On the 14th October 1066, Harold’s Saxon army formed a shield wall to face the Norman army atop Senlac Hill, approximately six miles northwest of Hastings, adjacent to the present-day town of Battle in East Sussex. As we all know from the annals of history the Saxons lost, Harold was killed and the nobles of England were slaughtered and dispossessed of their lands.

In 1086, at the time of the publication of the Domesday Book, it is estimated that the Normans formed only 1% of the population. However, having defeated the English army they were masters of the land and the Duke of Normandy, William the Bastard, was now King of England. Nearly all the land and manors of England were confiscated and distributed to the Norman victors. Even Saxon free farmers became mere tenants of a Norman master. The Normans cemented their control and domination of England by building massive stone castles. These were defensive fortifications designed to intimidate the local populations and let them know where the political power now lay.

The ruling elite spoke French and continued to do so for two centuries after the invasion. Gradually though, the French language gave way to English, but it was now an English language heavily influenced by Norman French. This is clearly seen in modern English. This fusion of English and Norman French has enriched the language and made it one of the world’s great literary tongues. English has now spread much further than our ancient forebears could ever have imagined. It is now the de-jure ‘international language’ and used in trade, commerce, aviation and information technology. It is the ancient Latin of the modern age and possibly England’s greatest gift to world civilization.

The Norman Conquest changed England in many ways. It changed our culture and introduced feudalism, it affected our culinary tastes and our language as already mentioned. It was a clear break from the previous Anglo-Saxon world and still influences us today. The bulk of aristocratic families in the land can still trace their origins and noble titles to the land thievery of the incoming Normans.

This was the last time that England was conquered by invasion and military might, although some would dispute that in respect of the ascent of the Dutchman Prince William of Orange in November 1688, to the British throne. Although William brought a Dutch army with him, he had been invited to rule by the English parliament, so it is deemed not to be a conquest despite the fact that he had ejected the ruling Stuart dynasty.

The Jacobite uprisings and their legacy, which have their roots in the expulsion of the Stuarts by Prince William of Orange, are given their own pages on this website so I will not repeat the information here. The defeat of the Stuarts ensured that the UK remained a Protestant country, and even gave us a new national anthem. The wordage of this anthem has now been amended, and the reference to crushing rebellious Scots has been expunged.

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