Rugians, Wends & tribal Slavonic Settlers

Rugians, Wends & tribal Slavonic Settlers

The name Wends was given by the old Teutonic nations of Germany to those Slavonic tribes who were located in the countries east of the Elbe and south of the Baltic Sea. It is the name as the older name used by Ptolemy,(1) who says that `Wenedae are established along the whole of the Wendish Gulf.` Tacitus also mentions the Venedi. There can, therefore, be no doubt that these people were seated on the coast of Mecklenburg and Pomerania before the time of the Anglo-Saxon settlement. That there were some differences in race between the Wends of various tribes is probable from the existence of such large tribes among them as the Wiltzi and Obodriti, who in the time of Charlemagne formed opposite alliances, the former with the Saxons, the latter with the Franks. The Wends who still exist in Lower Saxony are ofa darker complexion, and are of the same stock as the Sorbs or Serbs of Servia. They are Salvonic descent fair in complexion. Procopius tells us that those Vandals who were allies of the ancient Goths were remarkable for their tall stature, pale complexion, and blonde hair.(2) It is therefore by no means improbable that the ancient Slavic tribes of the Baltic coast were distinguished by differences in complexion.

As the identification of Vandal or Wendish settlers with various parts of England is new, or almost so, it will be desirable to state the evidence of their connection with the origin of the Anglo-Saxon race more fully than would otherwise have been necessary.

The Vandals are commonly thought to have been a nation of Teutonic descent like the Goths, but there is certain evidence that the later Vandals or Wends were Slavonic, and there is no reason to doubt that these later vandals were descended from some of the earlier. Tacitus mentions the Vandals as a group of German nations, the name being used in a wide sense, as British is at the present time. The most important reason for considering the early Vandals to be Teutonic is that the names of their leaders are almost exclusively Teutonic, as Gonderic, Genseric, etc.(3) This reason would be valid if there were nothing else to set against it. Leaders of a more advanced race, however, have led the forces of less advanced allies in all ages, and the Goths were a more advanced race than the Vandals, whom they conquered, and who subsequently became their firm allies. Among the collection of Anglo-Saxon relics in the British Museum are a number of Vandal ornaments from North Africa, placed there for comparison with those of the Anglo-Saxon period. These are apparently rough imitations of those of the same age found in Scandinavia and in England – i.e., imitations of Gothic work.

Of all the people in ancient Germania east of the Elbe whom Tacitus mentions as Germans, not a single Teutonic vestige remained in the time of Charlemagne. Poland and Silicia were parts of his Germania. When the Germans of Charlemagne and his successors conquered the country east of the Elbe there was neither trace nor record of any earlier Teutonic occupation.(4) Such a previous occupancy rarely occurs, as Latham has pointed out, without leaving some traces of its existence by the survival here and there of descendants of the older occupants. In Germany, east of the Elbe, no earlier inhabitants than the Slavonic have been discovered, excepting those of a very remote prehistoric age. At the dawn of German history no traces are met with of enthralled people of Teutonic descent among the Slavs east of the Elbe, and there are no traditions of such earlier occupants, while the oldest place-names are all Slavonic. If there were Germans, strictly so-called, east of the river in the time of Tacitus – i.e., long-headed tribes – their assumed displacement by the Slavs between his time and that of Charlemagne would have been the greatest and most complete of any recorded in history.(5) Ethnology and history, therefore, alike point to people of Sarmation or Slavic descent – i.e., brachycephalic tribes – as the earliest inhabitants of Eastern Germany, and indicate some misunderstanding in this respect by the commentators of Tacitus.(6) In Eastern Germany place-names survive ending in -itz, so very common in Saxony ; in –zig, as Leipzig ; in –a, as Jena ; and in dam, as Potsdam. All these places were named by the Slavs.(7)

The statement of Bede that the Rugini or Rugians were among the nations from whom the English were known to have descended was contemporary evidence of his own time. The Rugi are also mentioned by Tacitus.(8) Their name apparently remains to this day in that of Rugen Island, situated off the coast which they occupied in the time of the Roman Empire.

As Ptolemy tells us of the Wenedae seated on this same Baltic coast, and as they were Sarmatians or Slavs, it is clear that the Rugians must have been of that race. Some of the nations mentioned by Tacitus were, he says of non-Germanic origin. Rugen Island was the chief place of worship for the Wendish race, the chief centre of their religion. On the east side of the peninsula of Jasmund in Rugen are the white chalk cliffs of Stibbenkammer, and on the north side of the island is the promontory of Arcona, where in the twelfth century we read of the idol Svantovit, and the temple of this Wendish god. No traces of Teutonic worship have ever been found in Rugen. They are all Slavonic. Saxo tells us of the worship of Svantovit at Arcona with the tributes brought there from all Slavonia.(9)

The probability of some very early settlers in Britain having been Wends, and consequently that there was a Slavic element in the origin of the Old English race, is shown in anther way. The settlement of large bodies of Vandals in Britain by order of the Emperor Probius is a fact recorded in Roman history. The authority is Zosimus,(10) and this settlement is said to have taken place in the latter part of the third century, after a great defeat of Vandals near the Lower Rhine. They were accompanied by a horde of Burgundians, and as they were apparently on the march in search of new homes, it probably suited them as well as it suited the Romans to be transported to Britain. Unless it can be shown that the Vandal name is to be understood to mean only certain tribes of Teutonic origin, this arbitrary settlement of Vandals in Britain is the earliest record of immigrants of Slavic origin. It is not possible to ascertain the parts of the country in which they settled, but as they were known to Roman writers by the names Vinidae and Venedi, it is possible that the Roman place-names in Britain – Vindogladia in Dorset, Vindomis in Hampshire, and others – may have been connected with their settlements. It is possible also during the time between their arrival and that of the earliest Anglo-Saxon settlers some of their descendants may have maintained their race distinctions apart from the British people, as descendants of some of the Roman colonists apparently did in Kent.

The defeat of the Vandals by Probus near the Rhine occurred in A. D. 277,(11) so that their settlement in Britain was not more than two centuries before the arrival of the Jutes and Saxons. As it is probable there were some so-called Saxons already settled on the eastern coast of England, with whom those of a later date coalesced, it is not impossible that some of the Vandal settlers in Britain in the time of Probus may have preserved their distinction in race until the invasion of the Saxons, Angles, and Jutes began.

The names in the Anglo-Saxon charters which apparently marked settlements of Rugians in England are Ruanbergh and Ruwanbeorg, Dorset, Ruganbeorh and Ruwanbeor, Somerset ; Ruwanbeorg and Rugan dic, Wilts ; Rugebeorge, in Kent ; and Ruwangoringa, Hants.(12) There will be referred to in later chapters.

The chief Old English names which appear to refer to them in Domesday Book are Ruenore in Hampshire, Ruenhala and Ruenhale in Essex, Rugehala and Rugelie in Staffordshire, Rugutune in Norfolk, and Rugarthorp in Yorkshire. Close to Ruenore, in Hampshire, is Stubbington, which may have been an imported name, as it resembles that of Stubnitz in the Isle of Rugen.

In its historical aspect the Anglo-Saxon settlement may be regarded as part of that wider migration of nations and tribes from eastern and Northern Europe into the provinces of the Roman Empire during its decadence. In its ethnological aspect it may be regarded as a final stage in the westward European migration of people of the Germanic stock. As the history and ethnology of the Franks in Western Germany afford us a notable example of the fusion of people of the Celtic with others of the Teutonic race, so the history and ethnology of Eastern Germany afford equally striking example of the fusion of people of Teutonic and Slavonic origins. It began at a very early period A. D., and the present irregular ethnological frontier between Germans and Slavs shows that it is still slowly going on. The eastward migration of Germans in later centuries has absorbed the Wends. The descendants of the isolated Slavonic settlers near Utrecht and in other parts of the Rhine Valley have also long been absorbed. The ethnological evidence concerning the present inhabitants of these districts and the survival of some of their place-names, however, supports the statement of the early chroniclers concerning the immigration of Slavs into what is now Holland.

The part which the ancient Wends, including Rugians, Wilte, and other Slavonic people, took in the settlement of England was, in comparison with that of the Teutonic nations and tribes, small, but yet so considerable that it has left its results. During the period of the invasion and the longer period of the settlement, the southern coasts of the Baltic Sea were certainly occupied by Slavonic people. Ptolemy, writing as he did, about the middle of the second century A. D., mentions the Baltic by the name Venedic Gulf, and the people on its shores as Venedi or Wenedae. He describes them as one of the great nations of Sarmatia,(13) the most ancient name of the countries occupied by Slavs, but which was replaced by that of Slavonia. Pliny, in his notice of the Baltic Sea, has the following passage : `People say that from this point round to the Vistula the whole country is inhabited by Sarmatians and Wends.`(14) Although he did not write from personal knowledge of the Wends, this passage is weighty evidence that they must have been located on the Baltic in his time.

During the time of the Anglo-Saxon period of the Slavs in the North of Europe extended as far westward as the Elbe and to places beyond it. On the east bank of that river were the Polabian Wends, and these were apparently a branch of the Wilte or Wiltzi. This name Wiltzi has been derived from the old Slavic word for wolf, wilk, plural wiltzi, and was given to this great tribe from their ferocious courage. The popular name wolfmark still survives in North-east Germany, near the eastern limit of their territory. These people called themselves Welatibi, a name derived from welot, a giant, and were also known as the Haefeldan, or men of Havel, from being seated near the river Havel, as mentioned by King Alfred. The inhabitants of the coast near Stralsund, who were called Rugini or Rugians, and who are mentioned by Bede as one of the nations from whom the Anglo-Saxons of his time were known to have derived their origin,(15) must have been included within the general name of the Wends. As these Rugians must have been Wends, the statement of Bede is direct evidence that some of the people of England in his time were known to be of Wendish descent. This is supported by evidence of other kinds, such as the mention of settlements of people with Wendish or Vandal names in the Anglo-Saxon charters, the numerous names of places in England which have come down from a remote antiquity, and the identity of the oldest forms of such names with that of the people of this race. We read also that Edward, son of Edmund `Ironside`, fled after his father`s death `ad regnum Rugorum, quod melius vocamus Russiam.`(16)

It is supported by philological evidence. As a distinguished American philologist says : `The Anglo-Saxon was such a language as might be supposed would result from a fusion of Old Saxon with smaller proportions of High German, Scandinavian, and even Celtic and Slavonic elements.`(17) The migration of the Wilte from the shores of the Baltic and the foundation of a colony in the country around Utrecht is certainly historical. Bede mentions it in connection with the mission of Wilbrord. He says : `The Venerable Wilbrord went from Frisia to Rome, where the Pope gave him the name of Clement, and sent him back to his bishopric. Pepin gave him a place for his Episcopal see in his famous castle, which , in the ancient language of those people, is called Wiltaburg – i.e., the town of the Wilti – but in the French tongue Utrecht.`(18) Venantius also tells us that the Wileti or Wiltzi, between A. D. 560-600, settled near the city of Utrecht, which from them was called Wiltaburg, and the surrounding country Wiltenia.(19) Such a migration would perhaps be made by land, and some of these Wilte may have gone further. The name of the first settlers in Wiltshire has been derived by some authors from a migration of Wilte from near Wiltaburg,(20) and the name Wilsaetan appears to afford some corroboration. It is certain that Wiltshire was becoming settled in the latter half of the sixth century, and such a migration may either have come direct from the Baltic or the Elbe, or from the Wilte settlement in Holland.

It must not be supposed that there is evidence of the settlement of all Wiltshire by people descended from the Wilte, but it is not improbable that some early settlers of this time were the original Wilsaetas. The Anglo-Saxon charters supply evidence of the existence in various parts of England, as will be referred to in later pages, of people called Willa or Wilte. There were tribes in England named East Willa and West Willa ;(21) and such Anglo-Saxon names as Willanesham ;(22) Wilburgeham, Cambridgeshire ;(23) Wilburge gemaero and Wilburge mere in Wiltshire ;(24) Wilburgewel in Kent ;(25) Willa-byg in Lincolnshire ;(26) Wilmanford,(27) Wilmanleahtun,(28) appear to have been derived from personal names connected with these people. There has not been discovered that any other Continental tribe of the Anglo-Saxon period were so named, except this Wendish tribe, called by king Alfred the men of Havel, a name that apparently survived in the Domesday name Hauelingas in Essex. The Wilte or Willa tribal name survived in England as a personal name, like the national name Scot, and is found in the thirteenth-century Hundred Rolls and other early records. In these rolls a large number of persons so named are mentioned – Wiltes occur in seventeen entries, Wilt in eight, and Wilte in four entries. Willeman as a personal name is also mentioned.(29) The old Scando-Gothic personal name Wilia is well known.(30)

The great Wendish tribe which occupied the country next to that of the Danes along the west coast of the Baltic in the ninth century was the Obodriti, known also as the Bodritzer. From their proximity there arose an early connection between them and the Danes, or Northmen. In the middle of the ninth century we read of a place on the boundaries of the Northmen and Obodrites, `in confinibus Nordmannorum et Obodritorum.`(31) The probability of Wendish people of this tribe having settled in England among the Danes arises from their near proximity on the Baltic, their political connection in the time of Sweyn and Cnut, historical references to Obodrites in the service of Cnut in England, and the similarity of certain place-names in some parts of England colonized by Danes to others on the Continent of known Wendish or Slavonc origin. Obodriti is aSlavic name, and, according to Schafarik, the Slavic ethnologist, the name may be compared with Bodrica in the government of Witepsk, Bodrok, and the provincial name Bodrog in Southern Hungary, and others of a similar kind. In the Danish settled districts of England we find the Anglo-Saxon names Bodeskesham, Cambridgeshire ; Bodesham, now Bosham, Sussex ; Bodding-weg, Dorset ;(32) the Domesday names Bodebi, Lincolnshire ; Bodetone and Bodele, Yorkshire ; bodeha, Herefordshire ; Bodeslege, Somerste ; Bodesha, Kent ; and others,(33) which may have been named after people of this tribe.

The map of Europe at the present day exhibits evidence of the ancient migration of the Slavs. The Slavs in the country from Trient to Venice were known as Wendi, and hence the name Venice or the Wendian territory.(34) Bohemia and Poland after the seventh century became organised states of Slavs on the upper parts of the Elbe and the Vistula. The Slavonic tribes on the frontier or march-land of Moravia formed the kingdom of Moravia in the ninth century. Other scattered tribes of Slavs formed the kingdom of Bulgaria about the end of the seventh century ; and westward of these, other tribes organized themselves into the kingdoms of Croatia, Dalmatia, and Servia.(35) in the North the ancient Slav tribes of Pomerania, Mecklenburg, Brandenburg, and those located on the banks of the Elbe, comprising the polabians, the Obodrites, the Wiltzi, those known at one time as Rugina, the Lutitzes, and the north Sorabians or Serbs, became gradually absorbed among the Germans, who formed new States eastward of their ancient limits. These have long since become Teutonised, and their language has disappeared, but the Slavonic place-names still remain.

What concerns us specially in connection with the settlement of England and the Vandals is that these people were Slavs, not Teutons or Germans, as is sometimes stated. They are fully recognised as Slavs by the historian of the Gothic race, who tells us that Slavs differ from Vandals in name only.(36) It is important, also, to note that the Rugians mentioned by Bede were a Wendish tribe. Westward of the Elbe the Slavic Sorabians had certainly pushed their way, before they were finally checked by Charlemagne and his successors. The German annals of the day A. D. 782(37) tells us that the Sorbians at that time were seated between the Elbe and the Saale, where place-names of Slavonic origin remains to this day.

Those Wends who were located on the Lower Elbe, near Luneburg and Hamburg, were known as Polabians, through having been seated on or near this River, from po, meaning `on` and laba, the Slavic name for the Elbe.

The eastern corner of the former kingdom of Hanover, and especially that in the circuit of Luchow, which even to the present day is called Wendland, was a district west of the Elbe, where the Wends formed a colony, and where the Polabian variety of the Wendish language survived the longest. It did not disappear until about 1700-1725, during the latter part of which period the ruler of this ancient Wendland was also King of England.

During the later Saxon period in England the Wends of the Baltic coast had their chief seaport at Julin or Jomberg, close to the island called Wollin, in the delta of the Oder. Julin is mentioned by Adam of Bremen as the largest and most flourishing commercial city in Europe in the eleventh century, but it was destroyed in 1176 by Valdmar, King of Denmark.(38) Its greatest rival was the Northern Gothic port of Wisby in the Isle of Gotland. Whether Jomberg surpassed Wisby as a commercial centre, which, notwithstanding the statement of Adam of Bremen, is doubtful, it is certain that these two ports were the chief porte respectively of the Wends and the Goths of the Baltic. Both of them, even during the Saxon period, had commercial relations with this country, or maritime connections of some sort, as shown by the number of Anglo-Saxon coins and ornaments with Anglians runes on them found either in Gotland or Pomerania.

The connection of the Slav tribes of ancient Germany with the settlement of England is supported also by the survival in England of ancient customs which were widely spread in Slavonic countries, by the evidence of folk-lore, traces of Slav influence in the Anglo-Saxon language, and by some old place-names in England, especially those which point to Wends generally, and others referring to Rugians and to Wilte. The great wave of early Slavonic migration was arrested in Eastern Germany, but lesser waves derived from it were continued westward, as shown by the isolated Slav colonies of ancient origin in Oldenburg, Hanover, and Holland. The same migratory movement in a lesser degree appears to have extended even into England, bringing into our country some Slavonic settlers, probably in alliance with Saxons, Angles, Goths, and other tribes, and some later on in alliance with Danes. The existence of separate large tribes among the Wends is probable evidence of racial differences, and the alternative names they had are probably those by which they were known to themselves and to their neighbours. The remnant at the present time of the dark-complexioned Wends of Saxony, who called themselves Sorbs, show that there must have been some old Wendish tribe of similar complexion, from which they were descended. As the country anciently occupied by the Wiltzi included Brandenburg and the district around Berlin, it joined the limits of ancient Saxony on the west. There is evidence, arising from the survival of place-names in and near the old Wendish country, to show that these Wilte have left distinct traces of their Existance in North-East Germany – for example, Wiltschau, Wilschkowitz, and Wiltsch are places in Silesia ; Wilze is a place near Posen ; Wilson in Mecklenburg-Schwerin ; Wilsdorf near Dresdon ; Wilzken in East Prussia ; and Wilsum in Hanover.(39) Similarly, names of the same kind which can be traced back to Saxon time survive in England. If the existence of these Wilte place-names in the old Wendish country of Germany is Confirmatory evidence of the former existence in that part of Europe of a nation or tribe known as the Wiltzi or Wilte, the existence of similar names in England, dating from the Anglo-Saxon period, cannot be other than probable evidence of the settlement in England of some of these people, for no other tribe is known to have existed at that time which had a similar name. This tribal name has also survived in other countries, such as Holland, in which the Wilte formed colonies. The Probian Wends or Wilte were located on the right bank of the Elbe, where some ships for the Saxon invasion must have been fitted out. There were Saxons on the left bank and Wilte on the right. At a later period they were in close alliance, and unless there had been peace between them, it is not likely that a Saxon expedition to England would have been organised.

Under these circumstances, if we had no evidence of Wilte or other Wends in England, it would be very difficult indeed to believe that some of them did not come among the Saxons. The general name of the Wends survives in many place-names in the old Wendish parts of Germany, such as Wendelau, Wendemark, Wendewisch, Wendhagen, and Wendorf.(40)

It is difficult to avoid conclusion that the old Slavonic tribes not only comprised people of different tribal names, but of different ethnological characters, seeing that at the present time there are dark-complexioned Slavs and others as fair as Scandinavians. No record of the physical characters of the ancient Wends appears to have survived, but observations on the remnant of the race, who call themselves Sorbs, in Lower Saxony have been made by Beddoe. The Wendish peasants examined by him and recorded in his tables(41) showed the highest index of nigrescence of any observed by him in Germany. These observations have been confirmed by the results of the official ethnological survey of that country.(42)

The coast of the Baltic Sea as far east as the mouth of the Vistula, and beyond it, is remarkable for having been what may be called the birthplace of nations. Goths were seated east of the Vistula before the fall of the Roman Empire, and Vandals appear to have occupied a great area of country around the sources of the Vistula and the Oder. In the middle of the fifth century the Burgundians were seated in large numbers between the middle courses of these rivers, while the Slavic tribes known as Rugians were located on the Baltic coast on both sides of the Oder. The name Rugini or Rugians thus appears, at one time, to have been a comprehensive one, and to have included the tribes known later on as Wiltzi.

In the Sagas of the Norse Kings, Vindland is the name of the country of the Wends from Holstein to the east of Prussia, and as early as the middle of the tenth century we read of both Danish and Vindish Vikings as subjects of, or in the service of, Hakon, King of Denmark.(43) In this century the Wends were sometimes allies and sometimes enemies of the Danes and Norse. There is a reference to interpreters of the Wendish tongue in the Norse Sagas.(44) The Wends were sea-rovers, like their neighbours, and comprised the largest section of the ancient association or alliance known as the Jomberg Vikings.(45) An alliance was made between the Danes and the Wends by the marriage of Sweyn, King of Denmark, to Gunhild, daughter of Borislav, a King of the Wends. Cnut, King of England and Denmark, was actually King of ancient Wendland, and the force of huscarls he formed in England was partly composed of Jomberg sea-rovers who had been banished from their own country. The evidence of Wendish settlers with the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes in England rests, as far as the Rugians are concerned, on Bede`s statement, and generally on the survival of customs, place-names, and folk-lore. It is certain that large colonies of Vandals were settled in Britain before the end of the Roman occupation, and some of them may have retained their race characters until the time of the Saxon settlement. It is certain, also, that there was an immigration in the time of Cnut. The evidence of a Wendish influence in the English race, arising from these successive settlements, extending from the Roman time to the later Anglo-Saxon period, cannot, therefore, be disregarded.

The Anglo-Saxon charters(46) tell us of Wendlesbiri in Hertfordshire, Wendlescliff in Worcestershire, Waendlescumb in Berkshire, and Wendlesore, now Windsor – all apparently named from settlers called Wendel, after the name of their race.

In such Old English place-names the tribal name lingers yet, as similar names linger in North-East Germany ; and in the names Wilts, Willi, Rugen, Rown, or Ruwan, and others, we may still, in all probability, trace the Wilte and Rugians – Wendic tribes of the Saxon age. In the old Germanic records the Rugians are mentioned under the similar names to those found in the Anglo-Saxon charters, Ruani and Rugiani.(47)

Some manorial customs, and especially that of sole inheritance by the youngest son, maybe traced with more certainty to the old Slavic nations of Europe than to the Teutonic. Inheritance by the youngest son, or junior preference, was a custom so prevalent among the Slavs that there can be little doubt it must have been almost or quite the common custom of the race. The ancient right of the youngest survives here and there in parts of Germany – in parts of Bavaria, for example – bit in no Teutonic country is the evidence to be found in ancient customs or in old records of the identification of this custom with the Teutonic race as it may be identified with the Slavic. In the old Wendish country around Lubeck the custom of inheritance by the youngest son long survived, or still does, and Lubeck was the city in which during the later Saxon age in England the commerce of the Wends began to be concentrated.

There is evidence of another kind showing the connection of Wends with Danes or Northmen. At Sondevissing, in Tyrsting herrad, in the district of Scanderborg, there is a stone monument with a runic inscription stating that `Tuva caused this barrow to be constructed. She was a daughter of Mistivi. She made it to her mother, who was the wife of Harald `the Good,` son of Gorm.`(48) The inscription has been assigned to the end of the tenth century, and Worsaae says : `We know that there existed at this period a Wendish Prince named Mistivi, who in the year 986 destroyed Hamburg, possibly the same as in the inscription.` This refers to a generation earlier than that of Cnut, to the time of Sweyn, who married the daughter of Borislav, king of Wends. During the period of Danish rule in England there are several historical references to the connection of the Wends with England. In 1029, Eric, son of Hakon was doubly the King`s nephew, being the son of his sister and the husband of his niece Gunhild, the daughter of another sister and of Wyrtgeorn, king of the Wends.(49) There was at this time an eminent Slavonic Prince who was closely connected with Cnut, and spent sometime with him in England – viz., Godescale, son of Uto, the Wendish Prince of the Obodrites, whose exploits are recorded in old Slavonic history. The Obodrites were the Wendish people whose warlike deeds are still commemorated at Schwerin. Godescale waged war against the Saxons of Holstein and Stormaria, but was taken prisoner, After his release he entered the service of Cnut, probably as an officer of the huscarls, and later on he married the King`s daughter.

There is another trace of the Wends in an English charter of A.D. 1026, which is witnessed by Earl Godwin, Hacon, Hrani, Sihtric, and Wrytesleof. The name of the last of these is apparently Slavonic.(50) There is also a charter of Cnut, dated 1033, by which he granted to Bouige, his huscarl, land at Horton in Dorset.(51) Saxo, the early chronicler of the Danes, tells us that Cnut`s Wendish kingdom was called Sembia, and it was in the Wendish war under Cnut that Godwin, the Anglo-Saxon earl, rose to distinction dominions,(52) the migration into England of Wendish people during his reign is easily accounted for.

There is additional evidence of the intercourse of the Wendish people of Pomerania with the people of Anglo-Saxon England in the objects that have been found. The gold ring which was found at Coslin, on the Pomeranian coast, in 1839, Stephens says was the first instance of the discovery of a golden bracteates and Northern runes on German soil.(53) The inscription is in provincial English runes, the rune which cannot be shown at present is the sign for yo which is slightly different, for, as Stephens says, it has only been found in England. The ring must be a very early one, for it contains the heathen symbols for Woden and also for the Holy Triskele (Y). Stephens states that it cannot well be later than the fifth century, and that it had been worn by a warrior `who had been in England, or had gotten it thence by barter.` The style is that of six centuries earlier than the eleventh or twelfth centuries, when the Germans came to Pomerania. The well-preserved characters on the ring point to its loss at an early date after its manufacture, and thus to early communication of some kind between England and Pomerania. It may have been the much-prized, rare ornament of a Wendish chief, brought or sent from England. In any case we know that the Wends, who had no knowledge of runes, must have prized ornaments such as this, whose construction was beyond their skill, for the relics of Vandal ornaments we possess from other countries where the Vandals had settled are clearly in many respects rough imitations of those of the ancient Goths.(54) With this English golden finger-ring there were also two Roman coins, one of Theodosius `the Great` (379-395), and the other of Leo I. (457-474), thus fixing the probable date of the ring as the fifth century. At that time the Goths were settling down in Kent, with some Wends, probably, near to them. They can be traced on both Essex and Sussex. The coast of the Baltic, it should also be remembered, was not only Wendish in the parts nearest to the Elbe, but also Gothic in those beyond the Vistula. The discovery of this ring in old Vandal territory with the Roman coins, and especially with the very early English runic characters upon it, assists in proving that the early Goths who settled in Kent were of the same stock as those who overran so large a part of Europe during the decline of the Roman Empire. In considering this, it should also be remembered that inscribed stones discovered at Sandwich, which are marked with very early runes, and are ascribed to the same early period, still exist in Kent.(55)

The evidence we possess relating to the connection of ancient Wendland with both the earlier and later Anglo-Saxons thus points to a continued intercourse between that country and our own. It is known to have been very considerable in the time of Cnut, who was the King or overlord of the Baltic Wendland. A large discovery of coins was made at Althofthen on the Obra, in the province of Posen, not far from Brandenburg, in 1872. From sixty to seventy Anglo-Saxon coins of AEthelred and Cnut, and an Irish one of Sithric, were found in this hoard. The Anglo-Saxon coins bear the mint marks of Cambridge, London, Canterbury, Shaftsbury, Cricklade, Oxford, Stamford, Winchester, York, and other places – twenty in all.(56)

The local traces of Wendish settlers in various English counties will be stated when considering the evidence of tribal settlers in different parts of England. Among these local traces are customs and folk-lore, which were of great vitality among these people of Wendland. On this subject Magnus, the historian of the Goths and Vandals, give us positive information. He says : `For, as Albertus Crantzius reports of Vandalia, “great is the love men bear to their ancestors` traditions.”(57)


1Morfil, `Slavonic Literature,` 36, quoting Ptolemy.

2Procopius, `Wars of the Vandals` (Greek ed., 1607), book i., p.92, and Greek-Latin ed., iii. 313.

3Latham,R. G., `Germania of Tacitus,` Epileg. Ixxxix.

4Latham. R. G., loc. Cit., Prolegomena, xxvii.

5Ibid., Prolegomena, xxvii.

6Ibid., xxvi.

7Ripley, W. Z., `Races of Europe,` 239.

8Germania, Sect. xIiii.

9Saxo Grammaticus, translated by O. Elton, 393-395.

10Zosimus, i., c. 68.

11Hodgkin, T., `Italy and her Invaders,` 217.

12Codex Dipl., Index.

13Bunbury, E. H., `Hist. Of Ancient Geography,` ii. 591.

14Pliny, `hist. Nat.,` iv., chap. xxvii., quoted by Elton, C. I. `Origins of Engl. Hist.,` 40.

15Beda, `Eccles. Hist.,` edited by J. A. Giles, book v., chap. ix.

16Cottonian Liber Custumarum, Liber Albus, vol. ii., pt. Ii., 645.

17Marsh, G. P., `Lectures on the English Language,` Second Series, p. 55.

18Beda, loc. Cit., book v., chap. ii.

19Hampson, R. T., `The Geography of king Alfred,` p. 41.

20Schafarik, `Slavonic Antiquities,` quoted by Morfil, W. R., `Slavonic Literature,` 3-35.

21Cart. Sax., edited by Birch, i 416.

22Codex Dipl., No. 931.

23Ibid., No 967.

24Ibid., nos. 641 and 387.

25Ibid., No. 282.

26Ibid., No. 935.

27Ibid., No. 1205.


29Hund. Rolls, vol. ii., Index.

30Stephens, G., `Old Northern Runic Monuments,` iii. 122.

31Monumenta Germaniae, scriptores ii. 677, A.D. 851.

32Codex. Dipl., Index.

33Domesday Book, Index.

34Menzel, `History of Germany,` i. 242.

35Rambad, A., `History of Russia,` i. 23.

36Magnus, J., `Hist. De omn. Goth. Sueon. Reg,.` ed. 1554, p. 15.

37Monumenta Germaniae, Ann. Einh., edited by Pertz, i. 163.

38Mallet, M., `Northern Antiquities,` Bohn`s ed., p. 139.

39Rudoplh, H., `Orts Lexikon von Deutschland.`

40Rudolph, H., loc. Cit.

41Beddoe, J., `Races of Britain,` 207.

42Ripley, W. Z., `Races of Europe,` Map.

43`The Heimskringla,` translated by Laing, edited by Anderson, ii. 12.

44Ibid., iv. 201.

45Memoires de la Societe Royale des Antiquaires du Nord, 1850-1860, p. 422.

46Codwx Dipl., nos. 826, 150, 1283, 816.

47Monumenta Germaniae, ii. 461.

48Worsaae, J. J. A., `Primaeval Antiquities of Denmark,` p. 118.

49Freeman, E. A., `Hist. Of the Norman Conquest,` i. 475.

50Freemane. A., loc. Cit., i. 650.

51Codex Dipl., No. 1318.

52Freeman, E. A., loc. Cit., i. 504, Note.

53Stephens, G., loc. Cit., ii. 600.

54Collection, British Museum.

55Stephens, G., loc. Cit., ii. 542.

56Warne, C., `Ancient Dorset,` p. 320.

57Magnus, O., `Hist. Omn. Goth.,` Quoting Albertus Crantzius, lib. Ix., chap. xxxvii.

Taken from the book = `Origin of the Anglo-Saxon Race.`

Author = T. W. Shore.