EBK Activity Sheets


All about them.

  • After the Romans left Britain, ordinary British people did not keep up their reading and writing.
  • Only priests, monks and nuns in the Church could write.
  • The British spoke their own language similar to Welsh. The Scots spoke Gaelic. However, monks from both groups wrote in Latin. Latin was the old Roman language.
  • The British borrowed a type of writing called Ogham from the Irish. They only used this for name tags and gravestones.
  • Saxons who settled in Britain did not read or write books. They spoke a language similar to English and had a simple alphabet of letters called Runes. Runes were also only used for name tags and gravestones.
  • When the Saxons became Christian, their monks and priests began to write books in Latin too.
  • Only after several centuries did people begin to write  the same language that they spoke.
  • There were no printing presses or photocopiers. So all books had to be written by hand. Something which is hand-written is sometimes called a 'manuscript'.
  • These were often decorated with pretty pictures: especially the first letter on a page. The pictures were often painted in colourful inks and covered in real gold! This is called 'illumination'.
  • Books and manuscripts were very valuable. They were only owned by Kings or Bishops or by the monks & nuns in monasteries.
  • Famous British books include 'The Ruin & Conquest of Britain' by St. Gildas, 'The History of the Britons' by Nennius and the 'Welsh Annals'.
  • Famous Saxon books include the 'Ecclesiastical History of the English People' by St. Bede and the 'Anglo-Saxon Chronicles'.
  • The 'Lichfield Gospel' (or the 'Book of Teilo') is a famous British illuminated manuscript.
  • The 'Lindisfarne Gospel' is a famous Saxon illuminated manuscript.
  • The 'Book of Kells' is a famous Scottish illuminated manuscript.
  • Activity Sheets available.
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