Anglo Saxon Architecture

Anglo Saxon architecture refers to the style of construction that was used by the Anglo Saxons in Britain from their arrival in Britain during the 5th century until the Norman invasion of England in the 11th century.

During this period, Anglo Saxons constructed a large number of secular as well as ecclesiastical buildings. While the secular buildings constructed by the Anglo Saxons were rather simple, their style of architecture is well reflected in the ecclesiastical buildings built by them, few of which are extant to this day.

Secular Anglo Saxon Architecture

The secular buildings constructed by the Anglo Saxons had a relatively simple architecture. They usually comprised of timber posts used as boundary walls upon which was supported a large thatched roof. A distinct feature of secular Anglo Saxon buildings was the sizable town hall which was a regular part of most Anglo Saxon towns and a focal point of the community.



Ecclesiastical Anglo Saxon Architecture

Ecclesiastical Anglo Saxon architecture has a more complex history. Anglo Saxons constructed a large number of ecclesiastical buildings and since some of these buildings are all that remain of the Anglo Saxon architecture, they tend to define the style of the Anglo Saxons.

Early Anglo-Saxon churches were built with influences from the local Roman and Celtic populations. Anglo-Saxon buildings of this period typically included a basilica. The use of a tower accompanying the building of a Church or parish is also one of the regular features of Anglo Saxon architecture.

Important Facts about Anglo-Saxon Architecture:

  1. Anglo Saxon architecture was recognisable by double triangular windows, herringbone stone work, the use of quoins and round-arched windows in buildings.
  2. Anglo Saxon architecture origins came from the Germanic tribes of Angles and Saxons who began arriving at British Isles during the 5th century.
  3. Anglo Saxon architecture dates from 5th century until the 11th century.
  4. Anglo Saxon architecture was influenced by the Romano-Celtic architecture in the 5th and 6th centuries and by the Norman architecture towards the 11th century.
  5. Anglo Saxon architecture can be seen in different regions of England such as in Oxford, West Sussex, Oxfordshire and Lincolnshire.

From 8th to 10th centuries, the Anglo Saxon architecture blossomed with possible influences from the European mainland such as from the Carolingian Empire. This period is marked by the use of Romanesque elements in Anglo Saxon architecture. However, few buildings of the period are extant today during to the continuous Viking raids on English shores, many of which were aimed at churches in search for precious loot.

Top five examples of Anglo Saxon architecture:

  • St. Peter-on-the-wall is one of the earliest extant Anglo Saxon buildings and dates back to 654.
  • The Stow Minster Church in Lincolnshire dates back to 1040 and features some of the tallest arches used in Anglo Saxon architecture.
  • St. Michael at the North Gate is located in Oxford and is another example of Anglo Saxon architecture. It dates back to 1040.
  • St. Nicholas’ Church in West Essex was constructed between 950 and 1050.
  • Odda’s Chapel in Gloucestershire dates back to 1056, one of the last ecclesiastical buildings constructed by the Anglo Saxons ahead of the 1066 Norman invasion.





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