Anglo-Saxon (c.410 – 1066)

Kent was one of the first areas to be settled by Germanic peoples, who tended to prefer the more tractable soils of the coastal plain and the river valleys. The densest occupation in the Early Anglo-Saxon period seems to have been in the north-east of the county, the heartland of the kingdom of the Cantware, protected to the west by the Medway and to the south-west by the Weald (Andredsweald – the forest of Anderida). The Thames estuary will also have been a favoured settlement zone, forming one of the main entry points directly opposite the Continental homelands in Germany, Frisia and Denmark, and an important early settlement site is known across the river at Mucking in Essex. Anglo-Saxon society, as deduced from the early law codes and from cemetery studies, was hierarchical. This fact was reflected in the settlement pattern, comprising a variety of sites of differing status. Little is known of Cliffe at this period, but it appears to have been a settlement of some importance – it is known to have been an early Jutish estate centre, possibly linked or associated with Northfleet, which later acquired a minster church, a large establishment similar in some ways to a monastic site and supporting a college of canons, priests who went out into the surrounding countryside to minister to the peasantry. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle recorded a number of synodal councils held by the Bishops of the Anglo-Saxon church in the period 716-825 at three places, Acleah, Caelhythe and Cloveshoh, generally identified as lying within Cliffe parish). The Hoo peninsula lay at the intersection between the kingdoms of Mercia, Wessex and East Anglia. The place-name is derived from clif (‘cliff’), and is first attested in 832, while the name of the marshland to the north, Redham, is also of Anglo-Saxon origin (Hreodham), although not recorded until 1251. The manor of Cliffe was held by the priory of Christ Church, Canterbury, with various land grants down the years from important personages, including Offa of Mercia, adding to the area held.


Source: R.S.P.B/Archaeology South-East

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