Dark Ages Timeline

The best and most comprehensive ‘Dark Ages’ & Early Medieval Timeline for England.
Dark Ages through the Viking invasions until the unification of England
Chronological order of dates, note ‘ASC’ is Anglo Saxon Chronicle.

406 to 1050


Sutton Hoo helmet copy Royal Armouries
Reproduction of the Sutton Hoo helmet, the 7th Century original is on display at the British Museum in London. It also has a similar reproduction so as to show how it would have looked when new.


    Part 1 Dark Ages Timeline


    5th & 6th Centuries the real Dark Ages.


406 A.D. The last Roman Legions are withdrawn from Britannia.
410 Emperor Honorius writes to Britannia and says Rome can no longer defend the Province.
430 Pope Celestine sends Bishop Palladius to preach and convert the Scots, Palladius is sometimes confused with St. Patrick.
Picts and Scots invade North Britannia, but are repulsed.
443 Britons appeal to Rome for help against invaders, at same time Rome appeals to Britons to help repulse Attila the Hun, showing Rome being attacked on all fronts.
447/48 Plague (Possibly Bubonic) sweeps through the Empire and probably Britannia.
449 Hengest and Horsa land at Ebbsfleet, as mercenaries for King Vortigern and in turn request help from 3 tribes, Angles, Saxons and Jutes.
455 Hengest and Horsa battle King Vortigern at Aylsford, Horsa killed his son Aesc succeeds to the Kingdom.
456 The Britons driven from Kent, after battle of Crayford.
473 Further advances of Anglo-Saxon Jutes into Britannia, at unidentified locations.
491 Roman City of Anderitum sacked and no Britons left alive.
Circa (C.) 491 the Saxons conquer the South coast.
C. 520 battle of Mons Badononicus won by Ambrosius Aurelianus checks the Saxons for a generation, you know him as King Arthur the battle the unidentified Mount Badon.
C. 526 Dendrochronology shows weather became poor and harvests would be dreadful, for a few decades with good breaks and return to poor, stopping further advances.
C. 547 Eiden (Ida) and the men of fifty keels, conquer Northumbria and make a fortress at Bamburgh and later set up Eiden’s Burgh, (Edinburgh).
C. 540 to 560 Angles land at Holderness in the Humber and march to and sack the Roman City of Eboracum (York) and slaughter the inhabitants, it is renamed Jorvik.
C. 560 The area around Jorvik conquered to become Kingdom of Deira
C.552 Old Sarum captured.
C.565 St Columba sets up a Monastery on the Isle of Iona, a glimmer of light in the Dark.
590 Gregory is in Rome’s market and sees blond slaves, and promises to send missionaries to ‘Angleland’ if he succeeds to the Pontificate.
C.597 St. Augustine on Pope Gregory I instruction lands at Ebbsfleet in Kent

Map of Aethelberht, England around 593 early Dark Ages.

England 593 ad
This Shows England in the Supremacy of Aethelbert 593ad, he being the first King that we still have his Laws in written form, and in English. The extant copy is 11th Century, however we know that they were written in English originally, and that the copy is not translated, because the Venerable Bede, states so in the 7th Century


    Part 2 Dark Ages Timeline


    7th Century


C. 600 -605 Laws of Aethelberht of Kent, written in English.
603 Battle of Daegestan is won by Aethelfrith, who is now King of Northumbria.
616 Aethelberht dies and his heathen son Eadbald succeeds to the throne.
617 Aethelfrith slain, Eadwine becomes King of Deira.
The story at this point is confused as there is no England, just a collection of fighting Kingdoms with no definite boundaries, all vying for the top slot, although Eadwine is thought to have a loose confederation covering most of ‘Britannia’, So England and into Scotland and Wales.
C. 610 to 635 Sutton Hoo Burial, possibly Raedwald who died Circa 625/627
626 Eomer, envoy from Cwichelm King of Wessex, fails to assassinate Eadwine, who is now King of Northumbria which includes Deira, and Lindiswaras (Lincolnshire).
627 Paulinus becomes Archbishop of York, Eadwine battles in Wessex killing 5 Kings, Wessex thought to pay fealty to Northumbria.
633 the Pagan Penda defeats Eadwine, Mercia is now ascendant.
634 Bishop (Saint)Aidan installed at Lindisfarne until his death 651, Oswald becomes King of Northumbria.

Map showing England around 640.


England 640 ad King Penda
This shows roughly how Britain was divided up around the time of Oswald and Penda


641 or 642 King Oswald slain in Battle with Penda at Oswestry.
645 King Penda fails to take the Fortress at Bamburgh, Northumbria remains Christian .
651 the future St. Cuthbert is converted, and enrols as a monk.
655 King Penda defeated at Winwaed (Nr. Leeds) by Oswui, Northumbria is triumphant.
663 (Sept) Synod of Whitby defines Christianity in the British Isles, Roman Christianity is to the fore.
664 Ceadda (St Chad) receives the Pallium (made Bishop) for York, later made Bishop of Lichfield converting Mercia to Christianity, died 672.
C. 660/670 Abbess Hild commissions Caedmon to write the Pentateuch as a Hymn.
671 ASC “Here there was a great mortality of birds” a Dark Ages environmental catastrophe?
681 Hild (St Hilda) Abbess of Streonesshalh (Whitby) died.
685 Ecgfrith is killed in an ambush at Nechtanesmere (not identified) while raiding Strathclyde.
687 Cuthbert (hermit and Bishop) dies at Farne Isle.
688 Ine becomes king of Wessex.


    Part 3 Dark Ages Timeline


Benty Grange Anglo-Saxon Helmet
This is the original Benty grange Anglo-Saxon helmet, 1 of only 4 found in UK, on display at Weston Park Museum in Sheffield, the display also houses other original Anglo Saxon finds, from around the North of England.


    8th Century


C. 720s St Boniface preaches in Thuringia and Mainz.
726 King Ine abdicates and goes on pilgrimage to Rome.
731 Bede (Baeda) writes An Ecclesiastical History of the English People, already the idea of England is forming.
732 Charles Martel defeats the Muslims at the Battle of Tours.
735 The Venerable Bede dies in Jarrow, in Europe Boniface is drawing the best brains to his Monastery, literacy in England starts declining.
741 ASC records “here York burned down” fires were a regular Dark Ages occurrence.
757 Offa seizes the throne of Mercia.
763 “Big winter” Bread shortage disastrous fires at York, London, Winchester Offa is Bretwalda
Circa 770s onwards The Silver Penny starts being circulated.
C. 774 Offa strikes Gold coin with mock Arabic writing to trade with Muslims in the Levant.
Circa late 780s Offa’s dyke.
787 Delegation from Rome to Offa update the Canons of faith, also they anoint Offa’s son Ecgfrith heir apparent, the first recorded anointing of a King.
793 The Vikings attack Lindisfarne.
796 The Greatest of the Dark Ages Kings, Offa dies, followed shortly by Ecgfrith, Civil War breaks out.


Original anglo saxon Gold cross
Saxon Gold cross, another gem on display at Weston park Museum Sheffield UK


    Part 4 Dark Ages Timeline


    9th Century


828 Egbert becomes king of Wessex
836 onwards, the Viking (Danes) raids become more frequent and much larger, whole armies coming over.
839 Aethelwulf becomes King of Wessex.
C. 850s Finngaill (White/Blond Vikings) & Dubhgaill (Black/Dark haired Vikings) invade Ireland.
858 Aethelwulf dies and complicated series of rulers of Wessex and Kent follows Aethelstan, Aethelbald, Aetheberht.
865 Aethelraed I (Aethelwulf’s 4th son) King of Wessex the Vikings pillage East Anglia.
866 possible start of Anglo Saxon Chronicle by Alfred perhaps in his own hand, the actual Dark Ages are coming to an end. Yorkshire falls to the Vikings, Osberht & Aella killed in York, Northumbria pillaged.
867 Mercia pillaged by the Vikings, Aethelraed I and Alfred go to Nottingham inconclusive outcome.
871 Aelfred (Alfred the Great) unexpectedly becomes King of Wessex, the beginnings of England, proper.
874 Mercia pillaged and King Burhred escapes overseas, puppet King installed.
877 Guthrum surprises Alfred who just escapes with a small band to Athelney on 12th night 878, the nascent England’s darkest hour
878 Alfred wins stunning victory over Guthrum at Edington (Ethandun) concurs Treaty of Wedmore, which defines Danelaw, Guthrum Christened.
886 Alfred wins London for Wessex from the Mercian, also possible date for marriage of Aetheflaed to Aethelraed Lord of Mercians.
892 Alfred begins his translations of Latin works, Hasten fails to invade Wessex.
C. 894 Aethelflaed adopts Eadward’s son Aethelstan.
899 Alfred dies. Eadward 1 (The Elder) becomes King.


Mid 9th Century England
Britain in 9th Century just before Alfred’s reign


    Part 5 Dark Ages Timeline


    10th Century


907 or 910 Aethelflaed strengthens Chester
910 Battle of Tettenhall.
911 Aethelflaed proclaimed ‘Lady of the Mercians’ starts extensive Burh building programme. Hrolf (Rollo) becomes 1st Duke of the Normans.
C. 912 to 918 Aethelflaed has 3 battles and 3 Victories over the Vikings.
918 Aethelfaed dies having extended England and won Leicester.
924 Eadward 1 the Elder dies followed a few weeks later by his appointed heir Aethelweard, on his death Aethelstan is anointed King.
927 Aethelstan starts to consolidate and extend England.
937 Aethelstan wins the battle of Brunanuburh near the Don Valley Yorkshire, and ensures England’s supremacy, for the rest of his reign.
940 Eadmund 1 succeeds Aethelstan as King, Dunstan summoned to Court.
945 Malcom King of Scots agrees treaty with Eadmund 1, putting pressure on Northumbria.
946 Eadmund 1 dies, Eadred becomes King.
948 Eric Bloodaxe declared king of Northumbria at York, Ripon Minster burnt.
954 Eric Bloodaxe driven out of York, Wulfstan restored as Bishop of Dorchester.
955 Eadwig becomes King, Dunstan exiled to the Continent.
959 Eadgar crowned King, Dunstan returns from exile and institutes the Regularis Concordia, which sets out the regulations for monks and that the King as supreme head of England.
975 Eadgar dies aged 32 and having kept the peace by showing Naval strength Eadward II the Martyr crowned.
978 Eadward II assassinated and Aethelred II (the Unready) is proclaimed King.
980 the Viking raids resume.
988 St. Dunstan dies, Vikings raid Devon from Normandy and Aethelred appeals to Pope John XV who sends an envoy to agree a treaty between Normandy and England.
991 A great raiding army lands and devastates part of the Country as it goes on the rampage £10,000 the first Danegeld is paid to Tryggvason a treaty is drawn up but not agreed
992 A Naval trap is set at London but is given away by Aelfric, and the Vikings turn elsewhere.
994 Tryggvason returns gets another £16,000, but this time agrees to a treaty, is Confirmed into the Church, and sails away to harass Harold of Denmark and his son Swein.
997 A fresh raiding army attacks Devon and Cornwall Aethelred fails to gather an army to confront them.


Etching Bradford Upon Avon Church
An etching of the famous Anglo-Saxon Church, not Identified until 19th Century. Bradford-Upon-Avon
Built by Ealdhelm


    Part 6 Dark Ages Timeline


    11th Century


1000 Aethelred successfully campaigns in Cumbria.
1002 £24,000 in Danegeld, Aethelred marries Emma, and orders the St. Brice’s day massacre of Danes living in England.
1003 Swein having defeated Tryggvason in Norway arrives in charge of the Vikings to revenge his Sister’s death in the St.Brice’s day massacre, Aelfric fails to confront the Vikings again.
1005 No Viking raids, but famine strikes.
1006 The Vikings return and get £36,000 in Danegeld.
1009 Aethelred orders a large fleet be built, but on land Aethelred fails to confront the Vikings.
1011 £48,000 in Danegeld a sum so huge it is not raised until the following year.
1012 Thorkell sides with Aethelred.
1013 Swein lands in Lincolnshire and the Danelaw supports his claim for the throne, Aethelred flees to Normandy. Canute left in charge of Northumbria while Swein travels south to take the throne.
1014 Aethelred is invited back by the Nobles on condition he does as he is told.
1015 Edmund Ironside, Canute and Aethelred battle for power.
1016 Aethelred dies, Canute settles with Edmund who promptly dies, leaving Canute as King of England and Denmark.
1018 Assembly of Oxford, Canute confirms ~Eadgar’s Laws~.
1027 Canute’s pilgrimage to Rome, for Conrad II Coronation. Secures free movement of English traders on the Continent, issues a letter, giving right of complaint to all against corruption.
1028 Expedition to secure Norway and Denmark.
1031 Count Robert of Normandy dies making his son William Duke of Normandy.
1035 Canute dies, Harold I is declared King.
1040 Harold I dies and three months later Harthacanute comes from Denmark and is made King of England.
1042 Harthacanute dies having achieved nothing, Eadward III (Edward the Confessor) is the last English King anointed at Winchester.
1045 Eadward III marries Edith Godwinson.

11th Century drawing ploughing
11th Century contemporary drawing, showing a farmer ploughing. The depiction shows just two cows, which suggests light soil.

11th Century drawing agriculture procedures
This drawing depicts various Agricultural techniques. The most striking is the use of the hand sickle, which persisted even though the Romans and the first Anglo Saxons had the two handed scythe. This can cut corn or wheat much more efficiently, but suffers from the side effect of wasting the grain. A scythe causes more grains to drop back to the earth.