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18 June 2014
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Legacies - Kent

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Immigration and Emigration
Evidence of the Jutes

In the chapter quoted at the beginning, Bede relates that the first chieftains of the Continental immigrants were the brothers Hengist and Horsa, whose genealogy Bede traces back to the god Woden. In a later chapter Bede records the genealogy of Æthelbert, the first Kentish king to convert to Christianity, whose direct ancestor was Hengist.

Human remains
Kentish burial grounds revealed ancient jewellery
© Canterbury Archaeological Trust Ltd
The knowledge or at least the belief in Continental forefathers from Jutland mattered to the Kentish royal family in the 6th Century in a situation of political change leading to their establishment of a new kingdom in Kent. Ancestry from abroad was prestigious and served as legitimisation of political claims. It was a political statement that some of their women wore exceptional and rare pendants that expressed visually these connections with Jutland and with the pagan cult of Woden.

These memories of Jutish and pagan immigrants remained prestigious enough 200 years later to be recorded by the Christian monk Bede as ancestors of Kentish king and people.

Words: Charlotte Behr

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