The Age of Chronicles and Sagas

Ref: C2341860

We will examine how Roman Britain adapted when the provinces were left to manage their own affairs, and the nature of the threats to the Roman way of life in Britain. We will look at the extent of the efforts made to sustain that way of life, particularly in its urban and administrative character. We will look closely at the literary and archaeological evidence to reconstruct the history of Britain during the period 428 – 540 AD, and in particular a careful study of authors such as Gildas and Nennius, as well as early Welsh poetry and the surviving Memorial Stones, in order to create a picture of the British Isles during the Dark Ages and in particular make some attempt to consider the identity of Arthur. We will also look at the evidence for extent and character of the early Anglo-Saxon migration, and consider some reasons for its apparent failure by the mid 6th century AD. You will be introduced to all the major cultural aspects, theology and warfare during the period concerned.

Course aim

A brief but wide-ranging account of Romano-British society and its transformation during the 5th-6th centuries AD and how that society developed during that time, looking at the evidence for the earliest Anglo-Saxons and the legendary King Arthur.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Describe at least 3 key features and development of Roman administration in Britain, 428 – 540 AD
  • Outline the key features of sub-Roman British town and country life during the 5th century AD
  • State the possible origins and significance of the characters of Vortigern, Ambrosius and Arthur
  • Describe the settlement patterns of the Saxons

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful
  • “An Age of Tyrants” Christopher A. Snyder (Sutton Press)

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course

Download full course information sheet

The Age of Chronicles and Sagas


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2019
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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