This exploration is for all ages, as the colored smilies show. You can do the map of Anglo Saxon Kingdoms with your whole family together!
The map of Anglo Saxon kingdoms is a history exploration from Layers of Learning Unit 2-5. Layers of Learning has hands-on experiments in every unit of this family-friendly curriculum. Learn more about Layers of Learning.
After the Romans abandoned Britain, telling them to “look to their own defenses,” they scrambled to do just that, because they were immediately invaded by the Picts from the north.
King Vortigern sent out a cry for help to the Saxon kings of northern Germany and they came sure enough, only they didn’t leave again, which was not at all what Vortigern had had in mind.
The Britons, descendants of the Celts with a smattering of Roman blood thrown in, were divided into many small kingdoms and dukedoms which squabbled among themselves as well.
For awhile the Britons held off the Saxons, but eventually they pushed the Britons to the far western edge of Britain, into Wales. The Saxons and Angles and Jutes from the north of Europe established their own kingdoms.
Step 1: Library Research
Before you begin exploring, read a book or two about the Anglo Saxons. Here are some suggestions, but if you can’t find these, look for books at your library about Anglo Saxons. The colored smilies above each book tell you what age level they’re recommended for.
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You Wouldn’t Want To Be An Anglo-Saxon Peasant
by Jacqueline Morley
The Shining Company
by Rosemary Sutcliff
Step 2: Map of Anglo Saxons Exploration
You will need colored pencils and the map of Anglo Saxon Kingdoms.
Label King Offa’s Dike on the border between North Wales and Mercia. They built the dike to defend against the fierce Welsh who had not forgotten, even after hundreds of years, that the land to the west had been theirs once.
Color each kingdoms a different color. The borders of these kingdoms changed rapidly as the kings fought one another, the Picts and the Welsh, and struggled to keep the Viking invaders at bay.
Step 3: Show What You Know
Create an illustrated fact sheet for this time in England’s history. You can include some of the legendary figures from this time like King Vortigern, King Offa, King Alfred the Great, and King Arthur. Also include information on the Saxon invaders, who they were and how they lived.
Additional Layers are extra activities you can do or tangents you can take off on. You will find them in the sidebars of each Layers of Learning unit. They are optional, so just choose what interests you.
This period of history in Europe is known as the Dark Ages, partly because we don’t know much about them, since few written records have been found, and partly because after the fall of Rome, Europe descended into chaos, which took nearly a thousand years to recover from.
In recent decades scholars have been shying away from the label “Dark Ages” saying it is inaccurate. Read up on the argument and decide if Dark Ages is a good label for this time or not.
The Tale of Beowulf was written by an Anglo Saxon bard.
The mythical King Arthur comes from this time in British history, during the struggle to keep the land free from barbarian tribes.
Learn more about King Arthur and whether the legends have any truth behind them.
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