400-700 AD - The ‘Dark Ages’

During the fifth century, Britain stopped being part of the Roman Empire. The Roman army withdrew and people were left to get on by themselves.  Gradually, the way of life in Britain became less Roman and more like it used to be in the Iron Age. 

Groups of people from North Germany and Denmark started to settle in the South East. They were called the Angles, Saxons and Jutes, and they lived a more traditional, tribal way of life. They spread westwards as far as Somerset. Here the native Britons fought back against the Saxons. Stories of this brave resistance, and the heroic British leaders, were told and retold. They eventually became the ‘King Arthur’ legend.

  • This is what the houses of the Saxon invaders and settlers looked like – very different from Roman buildings.

What do we know about the Dark Age Quantocks?

There is hardly any written or archaeological evidence to tell us what it was like on the Quantocks then. The Roman villas were abandoned and fewer people farmed the hills. Archaeologists think they might have started using the old hillforts again. Near Cothelstone they found some stone-lined Dark Age burials. There must have been an important settlement nearby where these people lived, but no-one knows where it was.

The Quantocks would have been a good base for native British warriors fighting the Saxons, but we don’t know if that is what happened. We do know that, by the seventh century, the Quantock Hills had become part of the kingdom of the West Saxons, under King Centwine.