EBK Activity Sheets


How the Saxons came to Britain.

  • King Vortigern decided upon a risky strategy to keep Britain safe.
  • In Northern Britain, he hired Saxon mercenaries (from Northern Germany) to fight the Picts (from Scotland). He may also have employed other Picts (from Scotland), led by a man named Cunedda, to fight the Irish in Wales.
  • This was an old Roman trick which had worked well in the past.
  • Vortigern paid these foreigners with land and the Saxon leaders, Hengest and Horsa, settled with their people in Cantium (now called Kent). This was very unpopular with the Romano-British. Vortigern's two sons, Vortimer and Catigern, even fought a war with him because of it.
  • Many people in Britain then joined a group who didn't want Vortigern as their King. A monk named Gildas wrote that they chose a man named Ambrosius as their leader.
  • A civil war broke out in Britain. Ambrosius's followers defeated Vortigern's army. Vortigern hid in one of his castles but it was set on fire and he burnt to death!
  • Activity Sheet available.

Click to find out: How the Saxons managed to stay in Britain.

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