imag: TitleProject Britain

Learn about London

by Mandy Barrow

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Project Britain
About London
London Index
Getting to London
Facts about London
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Buildings and landmarks
The People
London Transport
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(important street)
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History of London
River Thames
Hidden London
Arm Chair Travel
British life and culture - England, Scotland and Wales

The History of London
Saxon and the Viking London (AD 550 - 1066)

Roamn Britain
Saxon Britain
Viking Britain
Norman Britain
Tudor Britain
Victorian Britain
World War Two

The Anglo-Saxons AD 550

In the 6th century, Anglo-Saxons settled just west and and upriver of the Roman city Londinium. They established their own city of Lundenwic* (where Covent Garden, Charing Cross and the Strand are today**).

* “wic” was an Anglo-Saxon word for “trading town”, so Lundenwic literally meant “London trading town”

**A Strand is literally a beach on the river. A natural place for the Saxons to load and unload their boats.

In AD 597 Christian missionairies arrived bringing with them a new faith.

St Paul's Cathedral

Christianity grew stronger in Anglo-Saxon Britain. In 604 AD a cathedral was founded in London and named after the apostle, Saint Paul. There is still a cathedral on the site.

St Paul's CathedralWriting in AD 730, the historian Bede wrote in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle decribing Lundenwic as being “a market for many peoples coming by land and sea.”

At its peak in the late 8th century, the city’s population may have been as high as 10,000 people.

Saxon London consisted of many wooden huts with thatched roofs.

Saxon House

The Vikings (The Danes) AD 842

Disaster struck London in AD 842 when the Danish Vikings looted London. They returned in AD 851 and this time they burned a large part of the town.

Viking London

In 1871, King Alfred the Great became ruler of the southern kingdom of Wessex – the only Anglo-Saxon kingdom to at that time remain independent from the invading Danes.

King Alfred totally defeated the Danes in AD 878 and the country was split between the Vikings and the Saxons . The Danes took eastern England including London while Alfred took the South and West.

Saxon London

Despite the peace treaty Alfred's men recaptured London 8 years later in AD 886. Alfred repaired the walls of the old Roman town, deciding it was far safer to re-start the city inside the Roman walls.

There was a great fire in 961, followed by a plague and then another fire 20 years later.

King Æthelred II became king of England in 978 and ruled until 1016 AD. He nickname was King Æthelred the Unready

Viking London

In 1013-1014 the Danes, led by King Sweyn Forkbeard, lay sieged to and eventually captured London, causing Æthelred the Unready to flee to Normandy.

Æthelred returned in the spring of 1014, backed by his ally King Olaf of Norway, and together they drove their common enemy out of England.

London Bridge is falling down

The English and Norwegian forces attacked on boats up the Thames, so the Danes lined London Bridge to pelt them with spears and other missiles as they approached.

The nursery rhyme 'London Bridge Is Falling Down' is said to echo the legend that Olaf got his ships to pull the wooden London Bridge into the Thames, helped by the strong tides.

London Bridge is falling down,
Falling down, falling down,
London Bridge is falling down,
My fair lady."

Edward the Confessor - the last Saxon King

The Vikings and Saxons ruled jointly England until 1042, when Edward the Confessor became King of both the Vikings and the Saxons.

Edward the Confessor (1042-1066) built a wooden palace at Westminster, just a stone's throw from his new abbey, where all kings and queens of England have been crowned ever since.

Find out more about Saxon Britain and Viking Britain


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All the materials on these pages are free for homework and classroom use only. You may not redistribute, sell or place the content of this page on any other website or blog without written permission from the Mandy Barrow.

© Copyright Mandy Barrow 2013

Mandy is the creator of the Woodlands Resources section of the Woodlands Junior website. 
The two websites and are the new homes for the Woodlands Resources.

Mandy left Woodlands in 2003 to work in Kent schools as an ICT Consulatant. 
She now teaches computers at The Granville School and St. John's Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent.

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