By Stephen Harrison, BA, MPil Phd, Consultant Archaeologist,
Bronze Age
Iron Age
Early Modern

Main Index


Following the collapse and withdrawal of Roman authority in AD 410, Britain divided into a number of separate native states, which, between the fifth and seventh centuries, progressively fell prey to invaders coming, principally, from southern Scandinavia, northern Germany and the Low Countries.

East Yorkshire, being on a major estuary facing the homelands from which the new settlers came, is an area which attracted early settlements by the newcomers. Two tribes, the Angles and the Saxons, were particularly prominent amongst the invaders, and, together, they provide the name by which the period c.AD 410 - 1066 is generally known. By the end of the period, the language of the Anglo-Saxons had displaced that of the Romano-British, and the foundations of what had become England (ie "Angle-land") had been securely laid.

Written sources became available after AD 597 , when St Augustine began the conversion of pagan England to Christianity. The church was securely established among the Anglo-Saxons by the early eighth century and one of the benefits it brought was the introduction of literate ecclesiastics. The writings of these churchmen form a major source of evidence for the later part of the Anglo-Saxon period. In particular, they include accounts of the Viking attacks on England in the years following their first recorded raid in AD 793. These attacks, particularly by the Danes, eventually led to substantial Scandinavian settlement in northern and eastern England, including East Yorkshire. This area, in which Danish law and custom where established, became known as "Danelaw".

East Yorkshire has provided a considerable amount of archaeological evidence relating to the earlier Anglo-Saxon period, although, as with the prehistoric period, much of it is in the form of burial rather than occupation sites. Many pagan Anglo-Saxon cemeteries are known from East Yorkshire, and the objects found buried with the dead can tell us much about their everyday life.

Pathaeolithic c.250,000 - 8,300 BC
Mesolithic c.8,300 - 4,000 BC
Neolithic c.4,000 - 2,000 BC
Bronze Agec.2,000 - 800 BC
Iron Agec.800 BC - AD 71
Romano-British c.AD 71 - 410
Anglo-Saxon and Vikingc.AD 410 - 1066
Medieval c.AD 1066 - 1540
Early Modernc.1600 -1800
Modern c.1800 to the present day

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