Saturday, 3 September 2011

The Visigoths and 6th/7th Century Anglo-Saxons

This weekend we went to the Anglo-Saxon reconstructed village of West Stow. Here they were having a display of early 6 and 7th century Anglo-Saxons and Visigoths. As you know my husband likes to play Viking but his period is from the 10th and 11th century so we decided to go and investigate the earlier period of English history. There were many similarities but also many differences. As usual I have lots of pictures:)!

These are reconstructed Anglo-Saxon wooden homes/village.

Meal prep happening inside and outside the buildings

Cooking over an open fire inside the wooden buildings

Sitting arrangement in the main hall of the Lord, with his battle gear. The period this group was portraying was during the time when the Anglo-Saxons were changing from pagan beliefs to Christianity.

What a bed may have looked like. Lots of animal skins!

My daughter loved the twig broom...wonder if this will transfer to chores at home:)

The weaving house and loom

6 or 7th century Anglo-Saxon warrior. Very different from the time period of my husband's group. Due to the nature of their culture, there were a lot more decorations on the helmet and shields. Sometimes the motifs used many items familiar from pagan culture--sort of "hedging your bets." The thing I noticed the most is how much more decorative things were in this period; in this time, showing off "bling" was a way of demonstrating to others that you were a rich and powerful warlord who could lead people to riches and heroic deeds. Whereas in the 10 and 11th Century (my husband's period) things were less decorative and more mass produced for military usefulness.

Making leather shoes

I hadn't seen this before vellum candle holders, made of wood and leather.

Decorative horns. Look at the details!!!

AHH!!! This is something I have done to help my husband sew rawhide to the outside of his shield. Trust me when I say this is not a fun task!

Interesting to note that the men's clothing from this period and my husbands did not change to much other than moving from pagan to christian beliefs. But there was a great deal of difference in women's clothing and jewelry. Here the women are working on sewing and embroidery tasks.

Farm worker

A Saxon warrior hedging his bets, as his shield has the cross and the boar. The leader of the group explained that this person portrays a character who is the son of the King who converted the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity, so he is a Christian who pays homage to his grandfather's gods. It was not unusual in this period for people to show both Christian and pagan symbols.

This group of Visigoths are reenactors who came to England all the way from Spain. The Visigoths were a northern European Germanic peoples who came to Spain during the time known as "the Migration Period". They controlled Spain until the Moorish invasions, which began in the year 711. Notice since this is earlier period and Spain had been firmly within the Roman Empire, their clothing still has many Roman-like features.

The man in the orange has a wooden scabbard to carry his sword. The other things I noticed is many of the Visigoths had horse hair coming from their helmets.

The battle between Saxons and the Visigoths.

How would you like to be a farmer going up against a Saxon warrior with your only weapon being a wooden pitch fork. I don't like the odds!!

Audience participation, a little boy against a shield wall. Looks like he won!!!!


  1. What a fun and interesting field trip!
    I enjoyed the tour of the village!

  2. Looks like a great field trip! What fun!

  3. Once again, you have proved that your family goes on the best field trips of all time! Thank you for sharing.
    P.S. My Husby is SO jealous!
    P.P.S. And so am I!

  4. So cool! My kids would have loved this. Visiting from the crew.

  5. I love historical field trips like that! what fun! Thanks for linking up!

  6. What an interesting place! Looks like a great field trip.

  7. Ooooh! My son would have loved to see all of that!

  8. You do go on some of the best field trips! This looks extremely fun!

    My Dad collects blow horns and powder horns. He has many carved horns and ink horns like the ones you showed. Aren't they beautiful? Amazing talent!

  9. West Stow is an awesome site. We went there last year. Looks like you've seen a very good reenactment!

  10. Wonderful pics of a wonderful site. I'm putting it on my "places I'd love to visit" list. :)