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AGOSTO 19

London Travel Guide

Saxon Lundenwic And The Danes



After Romans left the city, the area's strategic location on the River Thames meant that the site was not deserted for long. From the 6th century, Anglo-Saxons began to inhabit the area.

Although early Anglo-Saxon settlement does not occupied Londinium, they occupied on a small scale of much of the hinterland on both sides of the river. From the mid-6th century, the London area was incorporated into the East Saxons kingdom, which extended as far west as St Albans and included all of later Middlesex. In 604 Saeberht of the East Saxons converted to Christianity and London received Mellitus, its first post-Roman bishop. At this time Essex owed allegiance to the Bretwalda Ethelred of Kent, and it was under Ethelred that Mellitus founded the first St. Paul's Cathedral, traditionally said to be on the site of an old Roman Temple of Diana (although Christopher Wren found no evidence of this). This would have only been a modest church at first and may well have been destroyed after he was expelled from the city by Saeberht's pagan successors.

In the 7th Century a Saxon village and trading centre named Lundenwic ("London settlement") was established approximately one mile to the west of Londinium (named Lundenburh or "London Fort" by the Saxons) in what is now Aldwych, probably using the mouth of the River Fleet as a trading ship and fishing boat harbour. It was 'rediscovered' in the 1980's after extensive excavations were reinterpreted as of an urban character by archaeologists Alan Vince and Martin Biddle working independently. Recent excavations in the Covent Garden area have uncovered the extensive Anglo-Saxon settlement dating back into the 7th century. The excavations show that the settlement covered about 600,000 square metres, stretching from the present-day National Gallery site in the west to Aldwych in the east.

The new town came under direct Mercian control in c.730 as the East Saxon kingdom of which it had once been part was gradually reduced in size and status. Mercian lordship was replaced by that of Wessex after 825.

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