British Archaeology

Erik Wade


The early English preferred the term Englisc when speaking of themselves. While sources sometimes refer to the “Angles and Saxons,” the much rarer compound term “Anglo-Saxon” survives mostly in the Latin titles of kings or in sources from outside England, where it served to distinguis­h the English Saxons from the continenta­l Saxons. The term appears almost exclusivel­y in Latin. It occurs only three times in Old English. In the 19th century, “Anglo-Saxon” became the preferred historical term when it became synonymous with “white.” The current fervour over scholars using a different term lays bare this supposedly historical term’s racial, national roots. Scholars retired the term “Aryan,” for instance, after World War 2, a model for how to contend with terminolog­y that has become attractive to racists.

Erik Wade is a visiting lecturer at the University of Bonn

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