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The Cilternsæte (or Ciltern Sætna) were a tribe that occupied the Chilterns, probably in the 6th century AD.[1]

It is unclear whether they were native Britons, Anglians, or West Saxons. Mortimer Wheeler noted the absence of Anglo-Saxon evidence from the Chilterns and suggested the area was a British enclave into the 6th Century, possibly the remnants of a Sub-Roman polity encompassing an area that included London, Colchester, and St. Albans.[2] Earlier, J. Brownbill had suggested they were one branch of the West Saxons.[3]

The Tribal Hidage valued their territory at 4,000 hides. This assessment is relatively large compared with those of some other tribes of central England. Although the Tribal Hidage suggests[clarification needed] the tribe gave its name to the hills, the truth must be the reverse since the toponym is of Brittonic origin.[citation needed] Eilert Ekwall suggested that "Chiltern" is possibly related to the ethnic name "Celt" ("Celtæ" in early Celtic). An adjective celto- ="high" with suffix -erno- could be the origin of Chiltern.[4]


  1. ^ Kirby, D.P. (2001) [1991]. The Earliest English Kings (second ed.). New York: Routledge. 
  2. ^ cited in Ken Dark, 2000, Britain and the End of the Roman Empire, p. 97.
  3. ^ J. Brownbill, 1912, "The Tribal Hidage," in The English Historical Review, vol. 27, p. 640.
  4. ^ Ekwall, Eilert (1940). The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-names (second ed.). Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 99.  Ekwall cites the forms Cilternsætna (Birch's Cartularium Saxonicum; 297); Cilternes efes (Kemble's Codex diplomaticus aevi Saxonici; 715) and Ciltern (Anglo-Saxon Chronicle; text E)