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Anglo- saxons. the life of anglo- saxons. peoples roles.

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Anglo- saxons

the life of anglo- saxons

peoples roles

In Anglo Saxon period of time the women was always left at home to do the house work and look after the children while the man would go to work. When the man got home from work he would start cooking the dinner on a little fire in the middle of the house.


Some of the commodities traded in the early middle ages did not have to travel far, for example fish. Most had to make a longer journey, such as the iron mined in Kent and the Forest of Dean, the lead mined in Bristol, or the salt obtained from pans in Droitwich and Cheshire

In addition to raw materials there were also finished goods, though these tended to be small items: for example jewellery, glassware, and weapons. These would end up in the homes of thegns and eorls who could afford them. We must also remember the smaller trade in finished goods such as pottery and woodcrafts. The commonest pottery in our period was produced in Stamford and Thetford. These goods are not as 'glamorous' as certain others, but their trade was widespread and extremely valuable.

trades 2

All trade needs an outlet, and this would have been in the markets of the burhs. Everyone visited a burgh at some time, usually to dispose of excess grain, livestock or dairy produce. By choosing his route carefully a merchant could be in a different burgh every few days. Most markets were set up by the king or eorl in whose lands the burgh lay, and there was usually some form of tax on the merchants' transactions. This tax would either be a daily charge (like hiring a stall at a car boot sale), or a charge proportional to the profits made (like an early VAT). Markets were important and valuable places, and it is no surprise that mints were later set up in market towns.


In the countryside the vast majority of the people lived by farming.

sharing the expense of a team of oxen to plough the large common fields in narrow strips that were shared out alternately so that each farmer had an equal share of good and bad land.


The crops most frequently grown were wheat, oats, rye, and barley (both as a cereal and as the base for beer). Peas, beans, and lentils were also common. Honey was the only sweetener in use, and it was used to make the alcoholic beverage mead. Pigs were a major food animal, as were cattle, goats, and sheep. Horses and oxen were raised for heavy farm labour and transportation, though the stirrup had yet to make an appearance from the far east.


There were about two or three groups of houses on the hill in early Anglo-Saxon times. Each group housed an extended family. One of these groups has been reconstructed, using the tools and techniques available to the Anglo-Saxon builders. Oak trees were split with wedges and shaped into planks and beams with an axe. To test out different ideas, every reconstruction is different. Most of the buildings are reconstructed on the sites of the originals, and they are based on the evidence found in the soil.

Two types of Anglo-Saxon buildings were found. Around 70 shallow pits, with post holes at either end, were found in groups

Houses 2
Houses 2

The other type of building was suggested by rectangles of post holes, with gaps for the doorways and a patch of burned sand showing a hearth. These larger structures we call Halls. Evidence for about seven of these buildings was found. The hall was the focal point for each family unit of about 6 or 7 houses, a place where villagers could gather for meetings and feasts


The robe or tunic gathered at the waist was the common garment for a man, completed by hose and soft shoes. For a woman the robe or dress extended to the feet. The usual materials were linen and woolens, the more expensive outfits being marked by colourful dyes and exotic borders. Broaches were used to fix clothing by rich and poor, and amulets of stones were worn for luck.


In war the common weapon was the spear made with a seven foot long ash shaft and an iron head. It was both thrown and used to jab. Shields were round, made of wood covered with leather, and had an iron boss in the centre. Only the nobility used swords, which were about thirty inches long, made of iron with steel edges. The hilt was often elaborately carved and jewelled, and could be inscribed with good luck symbols and the names of gods. The Danish Vikings were more heavily armed than the Anglo-Saxons, relying on chain mail and helmets, and short stabbing swords which were useful in close quarters, as well as the fearsome double headed battle axe.


When they weren't fighting (one wonders when that was) the favourite pastimes of the Dark Ages were dice and board games such as chess. Elaborate riddles were popular, as was horse racing and hunting. At feasts the most common entertainment was the harp, which was also used in church music. In addition to the harp, scenes of juggling balls and knives have been found illustrating books of the period.


How did one become a slave? You could have the bad luck to be born a slave, of course. Beyond that, war was the most frequent source of slaves. Many conquered Celtic Britons would have become slaves. People could also become slaves if they were unable to pay a fine. In some cases a family would sell a child into slavery in time of famine to ensure the child's survival.

Life and religion
Life and religion

It is difficult to generalize about an era as lengthy as the Dark Ages, but we'll do it anyway. The Anglo-Saxons were pagans when they came to Britain. They worshipped gods of nature and held springs, wells, rocks, and trees in reverence. Religion was not a source of spiritual revelation, it was a means of ensuring success in material things. For example, you might pray to a particular goddess for a successful harvest, or for victory in battle. A few of the main Anglo-Saxon gods were Tiw, Wodin (Odin), Thor, and Friya, whose names are remembered in our days of the week Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

Religious observance consisted of invocations and charms to ensure the gods' help in securing a desired outcome in the material world, though the presence of grave goods indicates a belief in an afterlife. There is a possibility that female slaves may have been sacrificed on the death of a male owner and included in the grave to accompany him in the next world

Thank you for watching my slide show I hope you learnt a lot about the Anglo Saxon life.

By Melissa Buttle