Timeline: Anglo-Saxon period

 1 mya      Prehistory      54 BCE


 54 BCE      Roman occupation     410 CE


     410 CE      Anglo-Saxon era       1066 CE
Fragments of gravestones from Anglo-Saxon Rochester.

Following the withdrawal of the legions, the defences of the British kingdoms suffered. The Saxon invasions of Britain destroyed most of the formal church as they progressed, replacing it with a form of Germanic polytheism.


The Jutish brothers Hengist and Horsa landed at Ebbsfleet or possibly Milton Creek, possibly both. The Britons were defeated at nearby Aylesford, leading to the establishment of a Kingdom of Kent uniting Jutes and Saxons AD (Bede 731: book I).

The Kingdom of Kent is ruled by a succession of Anglo-Saxon Kings. King Ethelbert is enthroned around 589 (Bede 731: book I).

450 to 600 The town of Rochester became the centre of the Cesterwara Lathe. By the early 7th century Rochester boasted a market and a port reeve (Brooks 2005).

Christianity was largely reintroduced to Britain by the Gregorian Mission, c. 600. It is known that both Canterbury and Rochester had major mints in this period, primarily producing silver sceattas.


After establishing his archdiocese at Canterbury, St Augustine consecrated Justus, first Bishop of Rochester, and a cathedral was built on land donated by King Ethelbert (Textus Roffensis c.1123: 119r-119v). Foundations first excavated in 1888 (Livett 1888) and again in 1995 (Ward 1995) are believed to be this building.

King Ethelbert dies and his successor, Eadbald of Kent, is not a Christian.


Bishop Justus flees to Francia and remains there for a year before being recalled by the new king (Bede 731: Book II).


Ithamar, the first English-born bishop, is consecrated at the cathedral. Ithamar would go on to consecrate Deusdedit as the first Saxon Archbishop of Canterbury on 26 March 655 (Bede 731: Book III).

In the late seventh century, Kent gradually came to be dominated by Mercia. Kent’s monopoly on cross-Channel trade and its control of the Thames was broken, eroding its economic influence.


The cathedral suffers much from an attack on Kent by King Aethelred of Mercia. So great was the damage that Bishop Putta retired from the diocese and his appointed successor, Cwichelm, gave up the see “because of its poverty” (Bede 731: Book IV).

Kent was conquered by Caedwalla of Wessex; within a year returning to devastate the kingdom again. After this, Kent fell into a state of disorder.



Bishop Tobias consecrated (Bede 731: Book IV).

King Wihtred, famous for the Law of Wihtred (Textus Roffensis c.1123: 5r-6v), did a great deal to restore the kingdom after the devastation and tumult of the preceding years, and in 694 he made peace with the West Saxons.


Bishop Tobias dies and is recorded as being buried under the ‘portico’ (porch) of the cathedral (Bede 731: Book IV).

Æthelbald, king of Mercia, grants to Ealdwulf, bishop, and the church of St Andrew (Rochester) remission of the toll due on one ship at London (Textus Roffensis c.1123: 120v-122r).


Eadberht I, king of Kent, grants to Bishop Ealdwulf 10 sulungs (aratra) at Stoke in Hoo, Kent (Textus Roffensis c.1123: 119v-120v).


King Sigared grants twenty sulungs at Islingham to Bishop Eardwulf and the right to pasture swine in four districts (Textus Roffensis c.1123: 125r-126v).

761 to 764

King Sigered of Kent grants one and a half yokes at Rochester to Bishop Eardwulf for enlarging the monastery  (Textus Roffensis c.1123: 122r-123r).

King Offa of Mercia grants twenty sulungs at Islingham, Kent, to Bishop Eardwuld of Rochester (Textus Roffensis c.1123: 123v-125r).


King Ecgberht II of Kent grants to Bishop Eardwulf (of Rochester) ten sulungs at Halling, with rights to pasture swine in five districts (Textus Roffensis c.1123: 127v-129r).

765 to 785

King Ecgberht II of Kent grants to Bishop Eardwulf (of Rochester) a village and two yokes of land in Rochester (Textus Roffensis c.1123: 126v-127v).

King Ecgberht II of Kent grants to Bishop Deora of Rochester half a sulung and a marsh at Bromhey, Kent (Textus Roffensis c.1123 129r-130r) Later he grants half a sulung and a marsh to Deora in the same district (Textus Roffensis c.1123 130r-130v).


King Offa of Mercia grants to St Andrew’s and the bishopric of Rochester six sulungs at Trottiscliffe, Kent, with the right to pasture swine in three districts (Textus Roffensis c.1123 131r-132r).

788 to 789

Later he grants a sulung at Bromhey to Bishop Wærmund and the church at Rochester (Textus Roffensis c.1123 132r-133r) and one and half yokes of land at Rochester for enlarging the monastery (Textus Roffensis c.1123 133r-134r).

During the eighth and ninth centuries, a number of fortified earthworks, most notably Wansdyke and Offa’s Dyke, were constructed as barriers between the warring kingdoms of Kent and Mercia.


Rochester Bridge burdens, documented from the 790s, lay out the obligation for the Roman bridge across the River Medway to be maintained, which would be vital for allowing Kentish troops to cross the river (Yates and Gibson 1994).

Coenwulf of Mercia and Cuthred of Kent grant to Swithun, minister, for his good service and his money, three sulungs and a fourth one nearby at Bromhey, with the use of a fishery and four swine-pastures (Textus Roffensis c.1123 135v-136v).



Coenwulf of Mercia grants three sulungs at Rochester to Bishop Beornmod, with the use of six swine-pastures (Textus Roffensis c.1123 136v-137r).

Ecgberht of Wessex grants to Bishop Beornmod four sulungs at Snodland and Holborough, with a mill, rights of gathering wood, and of pasturing swine in four districts, and a village (Textus Roffensis c.1123 138v-139r).


Æthelwulf of Wessex grants to Bishop Beornmod two sulungs at Holborough (Textus Roffensis c.1123 139r-139v).


The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records that Kent was first attacked by Viking raiders in the late eighth century and raids continue for the next 50 years.


Rochester is attacked by Vikings in 842 (Anglo-Saxon Chronicle) and again in 885, when they laid siege until it was liberated by Alfred’s army  (Anglo-Saxon Chronicle). The cathedral would likely have been an attractive target.


Æthelwulf of Wessex grants to his minister, Dunn, ten yokes of land and a village, together with rights in meadow, forest, and marsh near Rochester (Textus Roffensis c.1123: 139v-140v).


Æthelred I of Wessex grants to Cuthwulf, bishop of Rochester, land partly within and partly to the north of Rochester (Textus Roffensis c.1123: 140v-141v).

Æthelwulf of Wessex grants to St Andrew’s and Bishop Swithwulf three sulungs at Cuxton with the church of St Michael (Textus Roffensis c.1123: 141v-142v).


Southern England is united under Alfred the Great, but Vikings raids into Kent continue.


Eadmund I grants three sulungs at Malling, Kent, to Bishop Burhric (of Rochester) (Textus Roffensis c.1123: 143r-144r).

942 to 946

Eadgar of Wessex grants ten sulungs at Bromley to St Andrew’s in return for money paid by Bishop Ælfstan of Rochester to himself and his præfectus Wulfstan (Textus Roffensis c.1123: 150r-152r). Æthelred II (i.e Ethelred ‘the Unready’) restores to the see of Rochester, at the request of Bishop Godwine, six sulungs at Wouldham and one mansa at Littlebrook (Textus Roffensis c.1123: 152r-155r).



Will of Byrhtric and his wife Ælfswith, including bequests to the cathedral (Textus Roffensis c.1123: 144r-147r).

Æthelred II restores to the see of Rochester six sulungs at Bromley and the use of forest in the Weald (Textus Roffensis c.1123: 156v-159v). There are disputes over the estate of Snodland during this time (Textus Roffensis c.1123: 155r-156v).


Æthelred II grants to Bishop Godwine of Rochester fifteen hides at Fen Stanton and Hilton, Hunts (Textus Roffensis c.1123: 159v-162r).


There were renewed Scandinavian attacks on England at the end of the 10th century, culminating in Cnut become king of England in 1016, beginning a dynasty ruling a kingdom which became the centre of government for an empire which also included Denmark and Norway.


A fragment of gravestone from this time in the Scandinavian Ringerike style was found embedded in the 12th-century west front of the cathedral in 1982 (Covert 1988: 10-11).


 1066 CE     Norman period     1299 CE


  1300 CE    Late Middle Ages     1499 CE


1500 CE     Early Modern era     1799 CE


1800 CE      Late Modern era     2018 CE