(ORDO NEWS) — In 2015, clear traces of a once-existing settlement were found on an aerial photograph of the area. This year, archaeologists began to work on the site of the proposed settlement.
They found the remains of a wooden building 23 meters long and 10 meters wide, located on the territory of a large settlement of just under 50 hectares.
Scholars suggest that this structure was one of several monumental halls in the royal complex at Randlesham.
Archaeologists also collected a collection of metal products, ceramics, fragments of glass vessels.
Most likely, before the onset of the Dark Ages, this place was a Roman settlement, which later the kings of East Anglia made their capital.
What looks like a log shed from the point of view of our contemporary, in the 7th century actually served as the royal front hall.
There, the first rulers of East Anglia, accompanied by their families and armed retinue, administered justice, received tribute and diplomatic envoys, feasted, distributed gifts and favors.
In historical sources, the hall was first mentioned in the 8th century, in the writings of Bede the Venerable, an English monk from the monastery of St. Peter, who wrote the Ecclesiastical History of the Angles.
It cannot be said that the work of Bede the Venerable looks like a completely reliable source, but historians call the early Middle Ages the Dark Ages for a reason.
Rome fell, and the barbarians were not very interested in the traditions of the chroniclers.
In the territory of Britain, which was constantly divided among themselves by various leaders, literacy was very bad, so it is impossible to scatter sources.
According to Bede the Venerable, Randlesham was the residence of Æthelwod, King of East Anglia, who ruled from 655-664 AD.
This king attracted the attention of a chronicler monk, primarily by his attitude towards Christianity. The fact is that Britain, even in Roman times, cannot be called completely Christianized.
And after the departure of the legions, settlers from Europe, who were pagans, poured onto the island.
Ireland remained the stronghold of the Church in the region. It is believed that in Britain the process of Christianization began at the very end of the 6th century.
In 597, a Benedictine monk, who went down in history under the name of Augustine of Canterbury, arrived in Kent and convinced King Ethelbert I of Kent to convert to Christianity.
Bede the Venerable writes that King Ethelvod actively contributed to the spread of Christianity in the kingdom of East Anglia (the territory of the modern counties of Norfolk and Suffolk). He simultaneously hosted Irish missionaries and envoys from Rome.
Christopher Scull, an archaeologist from Cardiff University (UK), believes that the discovery of such a large building, combined with information from the writings of Bede the Venerable, suggests that Randlesham was the largest settlement of its time.
And, most likely, this is evidence that the kingdom of East Anglia played a special role in the union of English states.
Today, historians view the kingdoms that formed in Britain during the Dark Ages as roughly equal, without any hegemonic state (with only one exception).
In the VI century, the island was invaded by the tribes of the Angles, Saxons and Jutes and divided, and rather bloodily, the territory of the former Roman province into seven parts.
In historiography, this division was called “heptarchy” (seven kingdoms). The situation remained this way until the middle of the 9th century, when the “field of Danish law” appeared.
Previously, it was believed that only Kent stood out from the equality of the seven kingdoms: its kings were sometimes called bretwalds, that is, “rulers of Britain.”
However, the finds at Randlesham radically rewrite our understanding of British history at the time.
It turns out that East Anglia had a large capital-settlement, that is, it had more weight in the heptarchy than one might have expected.
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