Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Saxons in Ireland

In 1999 the Irish Times ran a piece featuring the work of archaeologists who had been digging an area of Dublin once occupied by the Viking. They found underneath the Viking Settlement a Saxon dwelling. Logic tells us that this would not have been a single dwelling but part of a Saxon settlement which was either found, or the archaeological dig stopped there. I am aware that there is no record of the Saxons being in Ireland, but there may be another explanation for this.

Here is a modern map of Ireland, and Dublin can be seen on the east coast in the County of Leinster. In considering Ireland we should take into account that the area now Ulster was occupied by the Scots, and this area was far larger than the Ulster of today. The mythology of this area comes under the Ulster Cycle. It is the Leinster area that we are interested in. Now take a look at the ancient map from the first century CE drawn up by Ptolemy -

You will notice that the area now known as Leinster was occupied by a tribe known as the Cauci; this tribe is clearly the Chauci who were yet another Germanic Tribe here in these islands at this time. However, this tribe is of interest to us since they lived in Germania between the River Ems and Elba, and were related to the Angles and Saxons. It is thus quite possible that this tribe were the ones that give us the 'Saxon Dwelling' in Dublin. The Saxons were a confederation of tribes and the Chauci seem to have been absorbed into this in later times. 

There are also other notable tribes in Ireland who also dwelt in England & Wales -

The Gangani - We have looked at these in regard to the Tegeingl/Deceanglii and here they were in Western Ireland, before moving over to Leinster. The Gangani are usually said to have been in Connaught, but here they seem to have been in the area of Limerick in Munster.

The Hiberni - These gave their name to Hibernia which was once a name used of Ireland.

The Brigantes - also dwelt in Northern England.

The Coriondi - May be the same as the Coritani who lived in the Mercia area.

In regard to the Gangani there seems to be a problem here since some scholars have noted that they moved from the mainland across into Western Ireland which was the only area free for them. They are recorded as living in the area of West Gwynedd whilst the Tegeingl lived in East Gwynedd and Anglesey, with the Ordovices in between. But they are also recorded (and not shown on Ptolemy's map) as living in the Leinster area of Ireland. 

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