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Essex Through the Ages
Saxon Essex
  Saxon Invaders and Settlers
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Saxon Invaders and Settlers

Evidence from two Roman villa sites, at Little Oakley and Rivenhall, demonstrates early Saxon settlement in the county. Distinctive early pottery from the filling of pits at Little Oakley provides evidence of occupation on the site of the villa, although it can tell us little about the nature of the settlement. Evidence from Rivenhall is more extensive and includes a post-built hall and a well, as well as pottery and a glass vessel dating from the 5th century (400-500 AD).

This evidence of early Saxon settlers reusing Roman sites, and possible even existing buildings and structures, is not unique to Essex, and parallels have been found for example at Darenth Roman villa site in Kent. What is unsure, however, is whether the evidence represents settlers using sites which were vacant, available, and easily converted for their use, or whether they were actually involved in the maintenance of the Roman estates, with the express permission of the existing landowner.

The mechanism and nature of the Saxon settlement of England, even on the level of how many foreign settlers arrived on these shores, remains unclear. What does seem certain, however, is that in Essex they did not encounter large scale resistance from the natives. Over the following centuries, the newcomers transformed the old Roman province into an English Kingdom, and by 1066 it was a Saxon King who stood on the shore near Hastings and attempted to fight off the Normans who would shape the next period of England's history.