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Return to beginning of chapter THE EMERGENCE OF ENGLAND When Roman power faded, the province of Britannia went into decline, and entered a period known by some historians as the Dark Ages. Romano-British towns were abandoned and rural areas became no-go zones as local warlords fought over fiefdoms. The vacuum didn’t go unnoticed and once again invaders crossed from the European mainland – this time Germanic tribes called Angles and Saxons. Historians disagree on what happened next; either the Anglo-Saxons largely overcame or absorbed the Romano-British and Celts, or the indigenous tribes simply adopted Anglo-Saxon language and culture.
The end result was the Battle of Hastings in 1066, the most memorable of dates for anyone who has studied English history – or for anyone who hasn’t. William sailed from Normandy with an army of Norman soldiers, and landed near the town of Hastings, on England’s southern coast. The Saxons were defeated, and King Harold was killed – according to tradition by an arrow in the eye.
But by this time the Scotti were well dug in, foreshadowing the time when yet another name – Scotland – would be applied to northern Britain. Return to beginning of chapter THE VIKING ERA Just as the new territories of England, Wales and Scotland were becoming established, Britain was yet again invaded by a bunch of pesky Continentals. This time, Vikings appeared on the scene. It’s a classic historical image: blonde Scandinavians, horned helmets, big swords and rampant pillaging. Tradition has it that Vikings turned up, killed everyone, took everything, and left.