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British Isles, medieval colonization

Migration A–Z


  1. Jürgen Sarnowsky

Published Online: 4 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444351071.wbeghm079

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

How to Cite

Sarnowsky, J. 2013. British Isles, medieval colonization. The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 4 FEB 2013


Much of the political and ethnic structure of the British Isles today has been shaped by invasions and colonizations that happened during the medieval period, mainly in the early and central Middle Ages. When Roman rule in England broke down in the 4th century, the western parts of Scotland were conquered and settled from Ireland, and the Gaelic kingdom of Dalriada was established. In the south, the period of Romano-British rule was finally ended by the invasions and settlement of the Angles, Saxons, and other people from northwestern Europe. In the struggle against the British, from about 500, they formed several kingdoms, of which Wessex rose to supremacy. This rise was related to the invasions of the Vikings, which already had started in the 8th century. While Norse invaders raided and settled in Scotland and Ireland, in England there were mostly Danish settlements, especially in the north and east. Within 30 years of Wessex overcoming the Norse domination of York, new Danish invasions started in 980, which led to the formation of an Anglo-Danish kingdom under Cnut in 1016.


  • archaeology;
  • cultural diversity;
  • empire;
  • race;
  • medieval