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Wyvern of Wessex

The Kingdom of Wessex (pronounced /ˈwɛsɨks/) or Kingdom of the West Saxons (Old English: Westseaxna rīce) was an Anglo-Saxon kingdom of the West Saxons, in South West England, from the 6th century, until the emergence of a united English state in the 10th century, under the Wessex dynasty. It was to be an earldom after Canute the Great's conquest of 1016, from 1020 to 1066. After the Norman Conquest there was a dissolution of the English earldoms, and Wessex was split among the followers of William the Conqueror.



According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (ASC), Wessex was founded by Cerdic and Cynric, chieftains of a clan known as "Gewisse". They are said to have landed on the Hampshire coast and conquered the surrounding area, including the Isle of Wight. However, the specific events given by the ASC are in some doubt; Archæological evidence points instead to a considerable early Anglo-Saxon presence in the upper Thames valley and Cotswolds area, entered from The Wash along Icknield Way,[1] and the centre of gravity of Wessex in the late sixth and early seventh century seems to have lain further to the north than in later periods, following successful expansion to the south and west. Bede states that the Isle of Wight was settled not by Saxons but Jutes, who also settled on the Hampshire coast, known as the Meonsæte, and that these areas were only acquired by Wessex in the later seventh century. It is therefore possible that the ASC account is a product of the circumstances of the eighth and ninth centuries being projected back into the past to create an origin story of the ruling kinship appropriate to the contemporary form of the kingdom.[2] It may also be noted that the names of some of the early West Saxon leaders appear to be Brythonic in origin, including the dynastic founder Cerdic (being a form of Ceredic or Caradoc) and Cædwalla (from Cadwallon, a Welsh name derived from Caswalawn a Brythonic version of Cassivellaunus). These are interspersed with Old English names such as Ceolwulf, Coenberht and Aescwine. This variation might suggest the early rulers came from a hybrid Anglo-British dynasty or that the rule of early Wessex shifted between more than one royal clan, but this is conjecture.

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