1st Edition

The English Language Before England An Epigraphic Account

By Bernard Mees Copyright 2023
    276 Pages 32 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This pioneering work explores epigraphic evidence for the development of English before the Anglo-Saxon period, bringing together linguistic, historical and archaeological perspectives on early inscriptions, making them more accessible to a wider audience.

    The volume offers a new account of the Germanic development of Anglo-Saxon England, beginning with an examination of the earliest inscriptions from northern Europe and the oldest inscriptions preserving Germanic names, many of which have only been discovered since the 1980s. The book charts the origins of key terms such as Angle, Saxon and Jute and early writing systems used by Germanic peoples. Drawing on epigraphic evidence from northwestern Germany through to southwestern Denmark and sub-Roman Britain, Mees situates the analysis within historical and linguistic frameworks but also provides archaeological contextualisations, assessed chronologically, for the inscriptions. Taken together, the work re-examines existing models of the early development of English through the lens of contemporary approaches, opening paths for new directions in research on historical dialectology.

    This book is key reading for students and scholars interested in the history of English and historical linguistics.

    Table of contents


    1. Introduction

    2. The entry of the Germani

    3. Runic and Roman

    4. Northern bogs

    5. Roman Britain

    6. Saxons and Frisians

    7. Angles and Jutes

    8. Conclusion




    Bernard Mees taught history, linguistics and business at the University of Melbourne, RMIT University and the University of Tasmania. He received his PhD from the University of Melbourne and his previous publications include The Science of the Swastika (2008), Celtic Curses (2009) and The Rise of Business Ethics (2020).