Kingdom of Sussex

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The Kingdom of Sussex or Kingdom of the South Saxons (Old English: Sūþseaxna rīce) was a Saxon colony and later independent kingdom of the Saxons, on the south coast of England. Its boundaries coincided in general with those of the earlier kingdom of the Regnenses and the later county of Sussex. A large part of its territory was covered in early times by the Forest of Andred. It was ruled by the kings of Sussex.




The foundation legend of the Kingdom of the South Saxons is given by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which states that in the year AD 477 Ælle arrived at a place called Cymenshore in three ships with his three sons.[1] The chronicle describes how on landing Ælle slew the local defenders and drove the remainder into the Forest of Andred.[1] The chronicle goes on to describe Ælle's battle with the British in 485 near the bank of Mercredesburne, and his siege of Pevensey in 491 after which the inhabitants were massacred.[2][3]

Cymenshore is traditionally thought to have been located at what is now known as the Owers Rocks, south of Selsey, however there is no archaeological evidence to support the existence of Ælle and his three sons in the Selsey area.[4][5] Most historians regard the foundation of Sussex with Ælle landing with three ships and three sons as a myth.[1][6] [7]

The archaeological evidence that we do have indicates the area of settlement by the location of cemeteries of the period.[8] The origins of the settlers can be derived by comparing the design of grave goods and pottery with the designs of similar items in the German homelands.[9] The principal area of settlement in the 5th century has been identified as between the lower Ouse and Cuckmere rivers in East Sussex, based on the number of Anglo-Saxon cemeteries there.[10] However exceptionally there are two cemeteries in West Sussex at Highdown, near Worthing and Apple Down, 11 km or 7 miles north west of Chichester.[11] The area between the Ouse and Cuckmere was believed to have been the location for the federate treaty settlement of Anglo-Saxon mercenaries.[10]

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