Anglo-Saxons thought sons and daughters were equally important, but girls' work centred on the home. They learned housekeeping skills such as weaving cloth, cooking, making cheese and brewing ale. Girls and boys collected sticks for firewood, and fetched water from a stream or well.
Only a few girls learned to read and write. By the age of 10 a girl was considered grown-up. Most girls then married, though some became nuns in the Christian Church. A famous nun was Abbess Hild, born a Northumbrian princess, who founded Whitby Abbey (Northumbria) in AD657.
Boys learned the skills of their fathers. They learned to chop down trees with an axe, how to plough a field, and how to use a spear in battle. They rowed boats on rivers, went fishing, collected birds' eggs (to eat), caught wild duck in nets, and hunted deer and wild boar with the men.
Not many boys learned to read and write. The sons of kings or rich thanes might be taught at home by a private teacher. The only schools were run by the Christian Church, in monasteries. Boys went to live in monasteries to train as monks.
Toys and games
Anglo-Saxon toys were usually home-made. Children had wooden and rag dolls, wooden horses and other carved animals, and toy swords and ships. Children played board games with counters and dice. A popular board game was called Taefl (tav-ell). Children also played five-stones or knucklebones. From finds in graves, and other archaeological sites, we know children had spinning tops, and played tunes on pipes made from reeds or animal bones. They probably practised juggling too - though not with knives, as some men did to show off!
Women did not often marry men of a higher rank than themselves. A slave woman usually married a slave husband. But people were allowed to choose whom they married, unless the family disapproved. Family ties were very important. A woman was expected to marry a man of whom her parents and brothers approved. A brother would look after his sister if her husband died.
Women could own land and leave wills. We know from wills that have survived from Anglo-Saxon times that some women had small libraries of books. A rich woman's possessions might also include furniture, blankets, cups and jewellery, and horses.