Meonwara or Meonsæte is the name of a people of the Meon Valley, in southern Hampshire, England, during the late 5th century and early 6th century. Meonwara means "People of the Meon" in Old English.
There is controversy over the origins and character of the Meonwara.
- Most scholars believe that they were mainly Jutish in origin.
- Others have suggested that they were primarily Celtic Britons, who became dominated by a ruling elite of Jutes.
- The names of some of the founders also appear to have been Celtic in origin.
Account in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records a series of landings by Anglo Saxon settlers, during the years 449–514, in the area that became Meonwara . Those involved the earlier landings are now generally considered to be Jutes (rather than the Saxons who settled in surrounding areas during the same period). According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle the founders of Meonwara were a man named Port and his two sons Bieda and Maegla.
However, none of these names is clearly Germanic and Maegla appears to be a Brythonic word meaning "chief" or "prince" (i.e. cognate with Old British maglos, Welsh mael and the Breton given name Maël). Archaeological findings have also uncovered evidence, in the valley of the River Hamble and elsewhere, that these early colonists were Jutes .
Parallels with other Jutish kingdoms
Other peoples in early medieval southern England, are also generally believed to have Jutish origins: the Cantaware (later Kent), the Wihtwara (on what became known as the Isle of Wight), and the Ytene (in the area that became the New Forest). The Anglo Saxon Chronicle briefly mentions description of these peoples: "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 [neighbouring areas of Wessex] that men yet call the kindred of the Jutes." 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."
According to Anglo-Saxon sources, the prefix Wiht (and, therefore, Wight) were derived from a possibly mythical founding Jutish ruler named Wihtgar. However, the prefix Wiht- (much like Meon-) may have had Celtic origins: during the Roman era, the name Vectis was attested (in Pliny and Diodorus, among others).
The Jutish communities in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight appear to have been short-lived and to have been assimilated by the surrounding Saxon kingdoms. The historian Robin Bush has argued that the Jutes of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight were victims of a form of "ethnic cleansing" at the hands of Saxons. This theory is supported by the 7th century historian Bede. Bush's theory has been rejected by other scholars, who have suggested that if the social elites were killed or driven into exile, the remainder of the population could have been quickly assimilated.
- Smith. Memorials of Old Hampshire:The Jutish Settlements of the Meon Valley. p.39
- Barry Cunliffe, Wessex to AD 1000.
- ASC Parker MS: AD449, AD455, AD477, AD495, AD501, AD514
- 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.
- Lapidge. Anglo-Saxon England, Volume 20 . p.15
- ASC Parker 449
- Yorke.Kings and Kingdoms p.27
- s:Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Commissioned in the reign of Alfred the Great
- Bede. s:Ecclesiastical History of the English People.. Translation based on L.C. Jane (1903); A. M. Sellar (1907).
- Jones, Michael E. (1998). The End of Roman Britain. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. ISBN 978-0-8014-8530-5.
- Lapidge, Michael (2009). Anglo-Saxon England Vol.20. Trowbridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-41380-X.
- Smith, L. (2009). G.E.Jeans, ed. Memorials of Old Hampshire: The Jutish Settlements of the Meon Valley. London: BiblioBazaar. ISBN 1-113-82344-5.
- Yorke, Barbara (1997). Kings and Kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-16639-X.