Double round barrow on Old Winchester Hill, looking down into the Meon Valley

Meonwara or Meonsæte is the name of a people who lived in what is now known as the Meon Valley, an area in southern Hampshire, England, during the late 5th century and early 6th century.[1] Meonwara means "People of the Meon" in Old English. The name being nothing more than a geographical indicator, though early academics posited that the Meonwara were of Jutish ethnicity, modern scholarship would say it is a reference simply to the inhabitants of the area, primarily native Britons who would have learnt English from their Jutish rulers over time.[2]

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records a series of landings between A.D. 449 and 514 of Anglo Saxon people in this area.[3] While the identity of those in the later landings are described as "West Saxons" those in the earlier landings are without description and generally considered to be the Jutes. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle the founders of Meonwara were Port and his two sons Bieda and Maegla.[4] None of these names are clearly Germanic and at least one, Maegla, is actually Common Brittonic (compare Welsh "mael", Brittonic "maglos").

These were later followed by Wihtgar and his brother Stuf who are said to have colonised the Isle of Wight (the name Wight being traditionally thought to derive from Wihtgar,[4][5][6] however the name Vectis is attested in the Roman period in Pliny and Diodorus, among others). However these people are more correctly referred to separately as the Wihtwara.

The Anglo Saxon Chronicle gives a brief description of the Jutes who lived in southern Wessex:

"From the Jutes are descended the men of Kent, the Wightwarians (that is, the tribe that now dwelleth in the Isle of Wight), and that kindred in Wessex that men yet call the kindred of the Jutes.[6]

Another source of information comes from Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum by Bede:

"From Jutish origin are descended the people of Kent and the Isle of Wight and those in the province of the West Saxons opposite the Isle of Wight who are called Jutes to this day."[7]

Archaeological findings have uncovered evidence, in the valley of the River Hamble and elsewhere, that these early colonists were probably Jutes, and not Saxons.[8]

See also


  1. Smith. Memorials of Old Hampshire:The Jutish Settlements of the Meon Valley. p.39
  2. Barry Cunliffe, Wessex to AD 1000.
  3. ASC Parker MS: AD449, AD455, AD477, AD495, AD501, AD514
  4. 1 2 Jones.The End of Roman Britain. p.71. - ..the repetitious entries for invading ships in the Chronicle (three ships of Hengest and Horsa; three ships of Aella; five ships of Cerdic and Cynric; two ships of Port; three ships of Stuf and Wihtgar), drawn from preliterate traditions including bogus eponyms and duplications, might be considered a poetic convention.
  5. Yorke.Kings and Kingdoms p.27
  6. 1 2 ASC Parker 449
  7. Bede.HE.1.15.
  8. Lapidge. Anglo-Saxon England, Volume 20 . p.15


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