Saxon Times

The Roman occupation of Essex ended in about 400AD leaving the area in the hands of British Tribes based on the Trinovantes. Saxon mercenaries brought to Britain by the Romans were reinforced by more settlers from the central European area now known as Germany.

The Saxons conquered land throughout Southern England and by the fifth century controlled South East England.

 Saxons settled in the Dengie area to make use of the Roman infrastructure as evidenced by the name Dengie that was gained from the Saxon name of Deningei. This is roughly translated as the land of the Daenningas who were the Saxon tribe that settled in the area. The first reference to Deningei can be traced to an 8th century charter.

Tillingham also gained its name during the early settlement of the Dengie by Saxons.

A Saxon village is believed to have existed in the vicinity of St Mary's Church, Burnham-on-Crouch. Evidence for this is a loomweight which was found near to St Mary's Church suggesting domestic Saxon activity and comments in the Domesday book relating to the existence of a late Saxon village just outside of Burnham.

The Saxon Kingdom of England was ruled by a number of Kings one of which was Sigeberht Sanctus who was converted to Christianity in AD 653.  Sigeberht visited his friend King Oswiu of Northumberland and spoke of the need for religion in Essex. King Oswiu later appointed St Cedd as Bishop to the East Saxons. St Cedd landed at Bradwell and established the church of St Peter at Bradwell on sea. In Saxon times this was referred to as Ythancaestir. Although Sigeberth was later murdered Christianity maintained its hold on the area.

The Viking invasions in the ninth century heralded the end for the Saxons with periods of short occupation of the Dengie 100 until the victory by Cnut in 1016 established the rule of the Vikings.

St Peters Chapel and Asheldham Fort are the only two remaining visible reminders of the Saxon rule.


The fort at Asheldham was originally built in the Iron Age. The surviving earthworks were adopted by the Saxons who turned Asheldham Fort as a convenient defensive point.

Saxon pottery, a knife and a throwing axe from the Saxon period have been found at the fort.

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Excavations to nearly Asheldham church have indicated that there was a Saxon settlement about 600 yards from the fort.


St Peters Chapel was built in AD 654 by St Cedd the Bishop of the East Saxons.

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