insideSUSSEX Magazine Issue 08 - October 2015 - Page 59

DAYSOUT King Charles II Anglo Saxon Migration Sussex has a rich and varied history that spans the ages, and the centuries. Our county’s name itself comes from the Old English for South Saxons, and the first recorded mention of the county (a kingdom at the time) was in 477 AD when King Aelle landed with just three small ships – each one containing one of his sons – and decided that Sussex was the area for him. He jumped ashore and took it, declaring it the Kingdom of Sussex. Most people today consider the story of Aelle to be a bit of a myth and, although it’s a nice story, it does seem to have an element of hyperbole about it. What isn’t disputed, however, is that Saxons definitely did settle in Sussex in the fifth century. Their tools and settlements have been discovered here over the years, and many can be seen in museums and historical attractions across the county today. But before Aelle and his sons, before the Viking ships, before Sussex was even a word familiar to the surrounding areas, the area itself was most certainly inhabited. With its rich and fertile land, its prominent position on the coast, and its enviable mining, which self-respecting group of invaders or settlers would go anywhere else? In fact, the famous ‘Boxgrove Man’ (one of a species called homo heidelbergensis) dates from between 478,000 and 524,000 years ago, making these early humans the first people to make Sussex their home. Later, in around 8,000 BC, when the landmasses of Britain and Europe were still connected, hunters crossed from Europe and settled in Sussex. Tools, knives, arrow heads and more have been found across the South Downs, indicating that Mesolithic Age people were also keen to stay in the area. Flint mining was a big draw for many in the Neolithic Age (between 4,300 and 3,400 BC) and Sussex had a lot of it, which is why the area soon became a hub of Neolithic industry. For those ancient beings, Sussex was the place to go to if they wanted tools or weapons. Early industry began here. 59