475AD Haesta and the Hastings Saxons.
Haesta and the Hastings Saxons.
475AD
Details
Supposition Haesta was a Saxon warlord who took over the area surrounding Hastings after the Romans left Sussex and before Aelle the Saxon landed in the 5th century.

He laid claim to the Roman Iron Workings throughout the area, providing significant wealth to his people for centuries.

The proof of this supposition may be seen by examining local village and other place names in the area.

Assumptions in no particular order
1. The Saxons were sailors and sailors like to be near the sea.
2. The Sea Level was about 10 - 15ft higher in Anglo Saxon times than today, making the coastline significantly different.
"Sea levels at Hastings in Saxon times"
3. The forest of Andredsweald was very difficult to negotiate, it started behind the South Downs spreading from Hampshire through to Kent.
Therefore most settlements were near the coast or estuaries at this time.
4. The Anglo Saxon chronicles are a reasonably correct representation of these historical events, even though it was written 400 years later.
5. The Romans abandoned a very profitable area surrounding Hastings where a large number of Iron Workings ( originally controlled by the Roman navy Classis Britannica ) were located.
5. The Saxons settled westbound, but didnt attack each other probably as they were from families who knew each other.

An argument for the invasion of Hastings by the Saxons
475 AD The first thing to note is that the Romans had a very profitable iron working area in the Hastings area where the Wadhurst greensand (iron ore) deposits come near to the surface, and the wooded area of Andredsweald provide charcoal for their processing into iron goods.

The next thing to note is that the Romans had an efficient distribution network of roads throughout the area, mostly north to south, and also via sea from the harbours in the Bulverhythe / Pebsham area of current day Hastings / St Leonards - Bodiam where the main Roman Beauport to Gravesend road crossed the river Rother/Limen - Ninfield/Boreham Street where another harbour allowed transport of goods via Pevensey to Europe.

The Classis Britannica built massive forts at Pevensey to defend the coastal access to the Pevensey Bay area and at Port Lymne to defend the mouth of the river Limen/Rother. It is also possible that there was a fort near Seaford to defend the Cuckmere valley, but this would have been lost to erosion many centuries ago.

The next thing to note is that Hengist (who became king of Kent in 473AD) and the Jutes settled in Kent and expanded to the west until they met the Romney Marsh area and the impenetrable Forest of Andredsweald that started on the East Sussex border. The main Roman Road that the Jutes would have used would have been from the coast to the London area, with very few east west roads. Sussex would have been looked on as a small coastal strip at the time and not worth the Jutes settling unlike the open areas of Kent.

So now to some conjecture, Haesta is a Saxon (surmised from the Saxon village names of the area). Haesta means storm or fury so has the right name to invade and control an area against anyones will. "Hastings area in 475AD"
The area is quite remote and can be controlled by blocking a few strategic locations , to the East lie the expanses of the Romney Marshes, to the north the sea comes inland as far as Robertsbridge and the Forest of Andredsweald, and to the West lie the Pevensey Marshes/Bay area.

Firstly it would appear that Haesta landed in the area of Bulverhythe which translates from the Anglo Saxon "Burgh wara hythe" meaning "The harbour of the settlers or people who live in the burgh, or possibly "Beorg wara hyde" meaning the "harbour of the people who lived on the hill" which would be the location that the Romans had exported iron products from their local centre at current day Beauport Park.

"Hastings Saxon villages
From the village names around this area we can surmise that the first settlements were strategic positions - so using the village suffix ing (NOTE :- not ings) for the strategic settlements or defensive positions we start at 1. Wilting - Wiltun(willow) ing(fort or stronghold) - which is near current day Crowhurst we believe the landing point of the Saxons, this is likely as it is on a promentery, and overlooks the Bulverhythe estuary . 2. Chinting - saenet(sea-net) ing(fort or stronghold) - is found in the Hastings side of Bexhill . 3. Couling - Ceal(small ship) ing(fort or stronghold) - which is now known as Couden . 3. Heading west we come to Wilding - Weald(Forest) ing(fort or stronghold) - near to current day Ninfield, on a possible Roman road leading west to Lewes, or to a Roman harbour on the current Ninfield to Boreham Street road. 4. The Roman fort of Anderida needs to be watched over as the british occupy this, so a settlement at Wartling - Waeta(marsh) el(people) ing(fort or stronghold) -is needed on the edge of the Pevensey Levels within sight of Wilding. 5. Going inland the old Weald Way( an ancient track through the forest of Andredweald along the ridge ) from Rye through modern day Cock Marling , Udimore , Broad Oak Brede , Cripps Corner (See Note 6), Mountfield , Netherfield , Brightling , Dallington , Punnets Town, Cade Street , Heathfield then Blackboys and through Framfield to Uckfield ( where it joins the Roman Road from Lewes to London ) has to be blocked on the western side so a settlement at Brightling - Beorht(Full View) el(people) ing(fort or stronghold) - provides an extremely high point that blocks the road an allows signalling to Wartling and Wilding . This was most likely located near todays Woods Corner . 6. Yet another small track goes from Battle to current day Robertsbridge where iron was transported to Bodiam so a strategic point located at Birching - Birce(birch) ing(fort or stronghold) - (South of Robertsbridge on the top of the hill) gives this protection, and it can be seen from Brightling . 7. Another Roman route goes from Beauport Park to Gravesend, so a point at Gusling - - near to current day Staplecross and Bodiam watches over the sea estuary nowadays the Rother valley, and its crossing at Bodiam . 8. The next defensive position is at Cock Marling - coccel(cockle) maere(sea) ing(fort or stronghold) - which protects the Tillingham and Brede estuaries. 9. Finally the last point to the east is at Guestling - Gist(yeast) el(people) ing(fort or stronghold) - which overlooks the Romney Marsh and can see Cock Marling . 10. Back towards Bulverhythe the area of Hasting - hast(storm or raging sea) ing(fort) - is settled (Not yet Hastings ), with a hill fort either on the East Hill or on the hill at Harley Chute .

From the above strategic points most of the area can be protected, this now appears to make the Anglo Saxon suffix ing in a village or location name mean fort or fortified village.

"Hastings Saxon villages
The next place names we believe were settled around this area are those ending in ings which would be an expansion of the borders set by the villages ending in ing.
"Hastings Saxon villages
The third set of village names we believe were settled around this area are those ending in ingham or ington, inghams' near the rivers and ingtons' inland or on higher ground, and are likely to be fortified villages.
"Hastings Saxon villages
The last set of village names we believe were settled around this area are those ending in ham, these because of their proximity and prevalence are believed to be farms/settlements near to the coast or rivers. These ham's are likely to have been settled after the area was under Saxon control as their numbers imply a safe area for settlement.

References Extracts From the Saxon Chronicles (written about 890AD)
for further details see the Vortigern Studies.

Further more detailed conjectures of the Saxon era can be found on the Nothgyth Quest author David Slaughter.

Please Note this article is conjecture and at present cannot be proved however the analysis of Sussex place names does provides an educated reference to Haesta and the settlement of Hastings by the Saxons.

Further more detailed conjectures of the Saxon era can be found on the Nothgyth Quest author David Slaughter.
Villages Mentioned
Framfield (380 years without a church tower)
Uckfield (Traction Engine destroys bridge)
Bodiam (The finest ruined castle in the Country)
Broad Oak (Smallpox at the Academy)
Cade Street (Jack Cade and the Kentish rebellion)
Mountfield (17th Century Coal !!)
Robertsbridge (The Home of Modern Cricket)
Wadhurst (Last bare fisted Prize-Fight in England)
Brightling (famous for Mad Jack Fuller)
Dallington (Custers Last Stand!)
Netherfield (Village at the top of the Hill)
Heathfield (19th Century Natural Gas)
Cripps Corner (Home Guard surprises the Army)
Staplecross (Mothers grudge hangs son)
Battle (William the Conqueror prevails)
Boreham Street (Picturesque village on top of the Ridge)
Crowhurst (Village devastated by the Normans)
Ninfield (Last of the Iron Stocks)
Pevensey (Ancient Roman Fortification)
Wartling (World War II defence centre)
Brede (Edward I inspects the Channel Fleet)
Guestling (Changing guards at Buckingham Palace)
Udimore (Angels move the Church)
Rye (On the Island)
Seaford (The cormorants or shags)
Blackboys (Charcoal and Soot)
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