From the end of Roman rule in Britain to the Norman Conquest of England, discover the history of the Anglo-Saxons: who they were, where they came from, their culture, their influence on modern-day Britain and more. 


A detail from a manuscript of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, showing an entry written in Old English.

Who were the Anglo-Saxons?

A whistle-stop tour of Anglo-Saxon England: who were the Anglo-Saxons; where did they come from; what languages did they speak?

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A historiated initial featuring a portrait of William the Conqueror, from the Chronicle of Battle Abbey.

The Battle of Hastings: fact and fiction

How did the Battle of Hastings start? What did medieval accounts have to say about the Battle? Was King Harold really killed by an arrow to the eye? Find out the answers here.

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A detail of the Sutton Hoo belt buckle, made from gold and featuring a web of intertwined snakes.

Early Anglo-Saxon kingdoms

How many Anglo-Saxon kingdoms were there? There is no simple answer to this question. At first, the Anglo-Saxon peoples were divided into many small kingdoms. Gradually, larger kingdoms started to emerge.

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A portrait of the Evangelist St Mark, from the Coronation Gospels.

Anglo-Saxon England and Europe

In Anglo-Saxon England, relations with the Europe thrived, from manuscript production to cross-continental marriages.

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A portrait of Queen Emma of Normandy, from the Encomium Emmae Reginae.

Women in Anglo-Saxon England

Learn about the changing roles of women in Anglo-Saxon England, including status, slavery and powerful female leaders.

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Blog posts

Early medieval interlace – a distinctive or ubiquitous feature?

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Regular readers of this blog are likely familiar with splendid examples of ‘Insular’ art — the art of the islands of Britain and Ireland from the 7th to 9th centuries. The iconic Lindisfarne Gospels is one of the most well-known,...

Remembering Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Art, Word, War

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

This week we are looking back at the British Library's Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms exhibition which opened to the public in October 2018. By the time the exhibition closed four months later, the enigmatic figure of ‘Spong Man’ had greeted over 108,000...

Humfrey Wanley, Library-Keeper of the Harleian Library

Thursday, March 26, 2020

One of the many gems of the British Library is the Harleian collection, founded by Robert Harley, Lord High Treasurer and 1st Earl of Oxford, and his son, Edward (1689–1741), 2nd Earl of Oxford. It's the largest intact 18th-century manuscript...

10 years of the Medieval Manuscripts Blog

Saturday, February 29, 2020

This month is an exciting anniversary for us: it has been ten years since the British Library's award-winning Medieval Manuscripts Blog began back in February 2010. It’s a decade that has seen large-scale digitisation, blockbuster exhibitions, exciting acquisitions and fascinating...

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