Completely different, but very enriching information about the early history of the Saxons was the archaeological research in Saksenland (Old Saxony). One of the archaeologists looked at the contributions of his colleagues as some parts of a great mosaic which was far from complete. But the excavating of settlements, the exposing of numerous grave-fields and the many artefacts gave not only an image of the daily lives of the Saxons in the early Middle Ages; they also gave information about:
– the housing
– the settlements
– the livestock
– the food
– the religion and gods worship
– the tools
– the ways of cremating and burying
– the level of craftsmen and artists
The now following short descriptions of a number of excavations in the German and Dutch part of Saksenland (Old Saxony) only give an impression of the Saxon society in the period of the 2nd century until about 700. And also of the changes that took place by contacts with the Romans and the approaching christianity.
Generally Saxon settlements were on sandy, higher grounds near a waterway or lake. The big archaeological and geological undertaken research in Raalte and it’s surroundings showed that the flanks of sand ridges were favorable locations. The soil was good to be worked and to drain. The settlements varied in size from a few farmhouses with outbuildings to villages with some dozen farms.
The most important in a settlement were the big “woonstalhuizen” – which translates to something like “residential stable houses” – I can best describe it as an early germanic longhouse without the use of bricks that could be up to 35m in length! These homesteads had a residential- work- and stable section. In the residential section there was a hearth, in the stable section were “boxes” for the cattle and ditches for carrying off the dung. There was room for up to 20 pieces of livestock.
The cow was milk- pull- and slaughter animal
The horse was pull-, ride-, slaughter- and offering animal
The sheep supplied wool, flesh and leather
There also were chickens, geese and ducks.
The Saxons were also very proficient in catching fish, and also hunting provided alot of nutriment.
Surprising results came from the research after “king graves / chieftain / ruler graves” from the middle of the 2nd centure near the city Hitzacker, to the South-East of Lüneburg. Besides the large longhouses, they also found “hut bowls” or better:”pit huts” that served as workshops and storage places. Thereof could be seen that he meals of the Saxons were varied: All kinds of fish from the Elbe, species of game (deer, roe, boar), meat of cow, horse, sheep, pigs and goats. There was also found a Roman muller that had to be transported there over water or by land. They also found iron nails, which in that time in Saksenland (Old Saxony) still were very scarce, and further knives of different sizes, bodkins, needles, brooches, closures of necklaces and also a Roman Fibula.
Translating takes alot more effort and time then I expected haha – let me know if you find this information useful! I planned to make many more info posts like these because it’s a topic I really enjoy studying. If you find some really annoying grammar or spelling errors, please do let me know so I can correct them. I am not an English speaker – I do my best to share knowledge to a broad audience, that’s why I do it in English.
I hope you enjoyed the read 🙂 – there’s many more to come haha – but not today!