Somerset is a county located in the southwestern part of England.
According to Layamon, it was conquered by Cheldric of Germany in the early days of Arthur’s reign, but Arthur later liberated it. Somerset is the possible location of the Summer Country and the Summer Region, both mentioned in Welsh texts.
In William Blake’s poem Jerusalem he mentions “mountains green.” In this he makes the reference that Jesus Christ may have walked on the Mendips as a young boy when, according to legend, he visited England with Joseph of Arimathea.
Somerset | 0 to 9th century AD
During Saxon times, this area of England was known as Somerset Shire and the inhabitants were known as “Sumersetas.” Whilst a lot of the land in this area consisted of unproductive bog land and was not populated to any great extent, it did have excellent pasture/cultivated land in other areas of the county. In and around the area of Somerset archaeologists have found the remains of lake villages (collections of buildings built on stilts).
Roman Period | 1st century BC – 5th century AD
Somerset was part of the Roman province of Britannia. Roman influence in the region is evident through archaeological remains, including villas, roads, and other infrastructure. Glastonbury, now in Somerset, was an important site during the Roman period, and there are suggestions that it might have been associated with early Christian communities.
Anglo-Saxon Period | 5th – 9th centuries
With the decline of Roman influence and the withdrawal of Roman legions from Britain in the early fifth century, the region became vulnerable to invasions. The Anglo-Saxons, a Germanic people, gradually migrated into the area. Somerset, like much of England, saw the establishment of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. The West Saxons, in particular, were influential in the region.
Viking Invasions | 8th – 9th centuries
In the late eighth and early ninth centuries, Viking raids and invasions became more frequent along the coasts of England, including Somerset. The Viking invasions intensified, leading to the establishment of the Danelaw, an area around Viking control, in parts of England. Somerset, however, was not part of the Danelaw. While Somerset was not a part of Danelaw, there is evidence of Viking settlements in certain areas, and the influence of Viking culture persisted.
Battle of Ethandun | 878
The Battle of Ethandun, also known as the Battle of Edington, took place in 878 in Wiltshire, near the borders of Somerset. Alfred the Great, the king of Wessex, fought against the Viking leader Guthrum. Alfred’s victory at Ethandun is considered a turning point in the Viking invasions, leading to the Treaty of Wedmore, which established the boundary between the Anglo-Saxon kingdom and the Danelaw.
Brut | Layamon, late 12th century to mid-13th century