Maps & Travels
Towns & Villages
Castles & Houses
Odds & Ends
in the Saxon South
- In Saxon
times, the southern side of the Upper
Thames Valley seems to have been made up of two areas. The north and west (the Vale
of the White Horse, the Berkshire Downs and Kennet Valley) was called
Ashdown. The east (Windsor Forest) was called Sunningum.
seems to have been a small kingdom around Sonning. One of its kings
may have been called Tappa.
- The early Saxons were pagans. In
the 640s, St. Birinus told the people of the Thames Valley all about
Jesus and they became Christians. An important double
set up at Abingdon. There were smaller ones at Cookham,
Cholsey, Kintbury, Bradfield and Hurley.
- The local bishop had his
cathedral at Sonning and parish churches were set up all over the
place. Are there any Saxon remains in a church near you?
- The Kings of Wessex (to the
south) and Mercia (to the north) argued a lot about who should rule
the area. It switched kingdoms several times, but eventually became
part of Wessex.
- The Kings had wooden palaces at
Cholsey, Wantage and Old
Windsor. The Witan (group of King's advisors) sometimes met at them.
- King Athelwulf of Wessex seems
to have made Berkshire a county in the 840s. It was ruled for him by
an Ealdorman who lived at Wallingford
- When the Vikings invaded the
South of England in the 860s, they set up their headquarters at
Reading. King Alfred beat them at the Battles of Ashdown (on the
Berkshire Downs) and Edington (in Wiltshire) and sent them packing. He
then set up forts at Wallingford and Cookham. They were called 'burghs'.
- Berkshire men fought at the
Battle of Hastings in 1066. It was won by the invading Normans (from
France). They took over the country. Most Saxons hated them, but they
were welcomed by the Lord of Wallingford.
Click to find out What