Where did the Anglo-Saxons settle?
When the Anglo-Saxons arrived in Britain, most kept clear of Roman towns. They preferred to live in small villages. However, warrior chiefs knew that a walled city made a good fortress. So some Roman towns, like London, were never completely abandoned. Many Roman buildings did become ruins though, because no one bothered or knew how to repair them.
Some Saxons built wooden houses inside the walls of Roman towns. Others cleared spaces in the forest to build villages and make new fields. Some settlements were very small, with just two or three families.
An Anglo-Saxon home
In an Anglo-Saxon family, everyone from babies to old people shared a home. Anglo-Saxon houses were built of wood and had thatched roofs. At West Stow in Suffolk archaeologists found the remains of an early Anglo-Saxon village. They reconstructed it using Anglo-Saxon methods. They found that the village was made up of small groups of houses built around a larger hall. Each family house had one room, with a hearth with a fire for cooking, heating and light. A metal cooking pot hung from a chain above the fire.
People wore clothes made from woollen cloth or animal skins. Men wore tunics, with tight trousers or leggings, wrapped around with strips of cloth or leather. Women wore long dresses. Women spun the wool from sheep and goats to make thread. They used a loom to weave the thread into cloth.
Clothing styles varied from region to region. For instance, an Anglian woman fastened her dress with a long brooch. A Saxon woman used a round brooch. Clothing also changed over time. The dress in the pictures is the kind worn by Angles when they first arrived in Britain.
What jobs did people do?
Men, women and children helped on the farm. Men cut down trees to clear land for ploughing and sowing crops. Farmers used oxen to pull ploughs up and down long strip-fields. Children with dogs herded cattle and sheep. They kept a lookout for wolves - which still lived in Britain at this time.
Some people had special skills. The smith made iron tools, knives and swords. Woodworkers made wooden bowls, furniture, carts and wheels. Potters made pottery from clay. The shoemaker made leather shoes. Jewellers made metal brooches, beads and gold ornaments for rich people.