By Jan Harper Whale.
Editor’s introduction: Jan Harper Whale has extensively researched the history of the Wihtwara people of the Isle of Wight, which lies off the south coast of England. The first of her trilogy of books was published in 2017 – see links further below. Here, the evidence for the Wihtwara is set out…
The Wihtwara [are…] an entirely forgotten race of people, our Ancestors who lived on this sacred island over 2,700 years ago. They lived, grew and were dedicated caretakers of the land, who were slaughtered in 686 by Cædwalla of Wessex who sought kingship, Bretwalda, to become a king of kings. The genocide was almost total, and in its wake, Cædwalla brought Christian people from the mainland to replace a now extinct Pagan population. Aided and abetted by Wilfred, the ethnic cleansing was brutal and devastating. The Longstone witnessed the worst battle and the echoes remain in the ancient stone for those who are empathetic and adept.
The origins of the Wihtwara
The Wihtwara people were from the Cimbric peninsular, and they arrived on our shores earlier than is stated. It is now accepted that they came to integrate, adapt and farm the land. They mixed peacefully with the Durotrige, native Britons and the very last priests of the Druids, who lived on the east and west islands of Wihtland. Its meaning is “Isle of Spirits”.
My years of research has opened a door to a clearer and verified history of migration from the Cimbric peninsula. The Cimbric peninsula has several countries, Denmark, Jutland, Gotland and several outlying islands. Those ancient people who lived there were gathered in several tribes. But over time, and as our modern usage of language tends to label most things in the easiest descriptive, this land became known as Jutland.
Tacitus, the renowned Roman chronicler gives an accurate picture of these people. He describes them as a confederacy of seven tribes, of which the Jutes (real name Eudose) are prominent. He names them: Reudignians, Aviones, Anglii, Warinni, Eudose, Suacones, Niuthones. They lived in an advanced society, both culturally and religiously. Their near cousins, the Geats and the Goths held similar laws and upon migration over a much longer time-frame than has been put forward, these people settled in Kent, the Meon valley and the Isle of Wight. The Meonwara are mentioned in the Doomsday book, as are the Cantwara in Kent. Of the Wihtwara there is no history because they were wiped out by fundamentalist Christians.
The Pagan way of the Wihtwara
The Wihtwara were a high spiritual caste of people, and the island also housed the Royal household, the true bloodline to Woden as Bede writes in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles. He took the unusual step of veering away from Christian dogma to describe the bloodline to Woden; and this is sharply illustrated in the major work by Stephen Oppenheimer, The Origins of the British…
“We still honour Woden’s name in variants of the word-stem Wednes- in English place names and one of the days of our week. So, we read in Book 1 of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: “From this Woden arose all our royal kindred”. This text, from one of our oldest surviving English histories, was no routine description of an accident of descent but a deliberate statement. The gap between each of the main English founders and Woden was but a few generations. For instance, the Jutish leader Wihtgils, whose name is attached to the Isle of Wight, was claimed to be Woden’s great-grandson, through Wecta and then Witta. Wihtgils was also claimed as the father of the fifth century and earliest legendary invaders, Hengist and Horsa, which would make him already resident in the British Isles when they invaded!”
Who were the Wihtwara?
These noble people came from a migration of northern Europe, a confederacy of seven tribes. We now know that the migration also included the Frisian people. These people were the most advanced civilization of the nations in the Cimbric peninsula. Their love of liberty was paramount amongst their achievements and still honoured today in our democracy. If we trace it to its ultimate source, England is Gothic by nature, and Kent and the Isle of Wight pre-eminently so. The Kentish man’s liberty was his main characteristic in early medieval times. A characteristic that has come from the earliest Kentish settlers.
The people of Kent and Isle of Wight preserved through the ages of Anglo-Saxon period and the feudalism, their free institutions, which have survived to this day. There is perhaps no survival the length and breadth of England that is more remarkable than this.
Under the laws of Æthelbert, the Kentish ceorl was a freeman and not bound by villain service elsewhere.
The island Jutish (Eudose) were royals or part of the royal household. They were deeply spiritual people, devoted to their Gods and Goddesses. Pagan to a man. Because they were descendants of Hengist and Woden they were of the true royal line, as Bede states.
They had good reason to populate this beautiful island. Security, peace and much more…. the island itself is a powerful place. So, their adepts would have come here, the priestesses and priests of the clans.
They were eloquent and gifted craftsmen who excelled in trading their goods and developed links as far as Byzantium. Archaeological finds have supported this with Byzantine relics found on the Isle of Wight.
The Wihtwara honoured Nerthus, the Earth Mother
It is recorded in the writings of Tacitus that the confederacy of seven tribes honoured Nerthus in their rites and ceremonies. In fact, they “put down their iron in honour for Her”. It is noted that she loved her human family and appeared every year, from her secluded grove on an island in the big sea (possibly Britannia?) to travel in an ox-driven cart to meet with the people.
There has been so much subjugation and repression of the divine feminine principle by an over-bearing church doctrine, that we, in our ignorance, celebrate Nerthus every year at May Day with our May queen processions and do not even have an inkling of Her, our earth mother. I am deeply indebted to Tylluan Penry who uncovered so much feminine magick from layers of doctrine designed to suppress. Her book, The Magical World of the Anglo-Saxons, is a pure joy to read!
Genocide creates a vacuum
The Pagan people were brutally murdered in a wave of killing which destroyed their life, their culture and their spirituality. It has created a vacuum in the history of the island. Nature abhors a vacuum and fills the empty space. So, to fill this blank space with imaginings, theories and sheer fantasy disrespects our Ancestors.
To create a myth out of an act of brutal genocide of Pagan people, by Christian fundamentalists, and Wilfred (erstwhile Bishop of Northumbria) was certainly that: (he was excommunicated several times), is wholly disrespectful to our Ancestors and hurtful to their memory. King Arwald died in battle, a Pagan. His brothers (or sons) escaped to Ytene Forest (New Forest) only to be caught, most probably tortured and made to convert, then killed. For King Arwald to then be made a saint is the most scurrilous act of all.
But then the victor always writes the history, so, King Arwald was canonized in a flurry of religious dominance, thus hiding the brutal facts from the world. It has succeeded in whitewashing the truth.
This article was originally published in the ‘Waking the Dragon’ website, and is reproduced in ASLAN Hub with the author’s permission. For more information and a link to buy the books, go to the-wihtwara.co.uk.
The Wihtwara (book 1) by Jan Harper Whale is also available here:
Stephen Oppenheimer’s book, The Origins of the British, is available here:
Tylluan Penry’s book, The Magical World of the Anglo-Saxons, is available here:
Map of south-east Britain circa 575AD indicating areas of Jutish settlement, with the Isle of Wight and the bottom, and the Isle of Thanet on the far right (map by James Frankcom)…
Jan Harper Whale
Jan Harper Whale has extensively researched the history of the Wihtwara people of the Isle of Wight, which lies off the south coast of England. The first of her books was published in 2017 and was called: The Wihtwara: Royal Ancestors of the Isle of Wight. A forgotten history, rediscovered.
Great blog, although the inhabitants of the kingdom of whitwara weren’t wiped out. It is much more likely that most of the noble line was wiped out. This is for several reasons. 1: there is no evidence of a mass genocide of thousands of people. 2: we know that the inhabitants of the islands gave refuge to some vikings, similar to the cornish. This wouldn’t of happened if they were purely anglo Saxon, so we can assume there was a strong cultural barrier between the inhabitants and the mainland. You can also see evidence in people today. Jutes have on average more definee facial features, less slim faces and more prominent foreheads. Also, there is a very high density of pagans on the island compared to the mainland, which is interesting. And, as you said, the jutes were on average more peaceful with the celts, meaning there were still a hight number of Britons or people with Briton DNA, and celtic influence. We see this influence within the old isle of wight dialect/language, which has a higher proportion of celtic grammar and vocabulary than other dialects of south central england.
Thank you TJ for your interesting comment. Eight years of research has uncovered many interesting facts and evidence. I have always underpinned my writing with grounded facts as I find them, and reasoned narrative to expand into interesting and provoking reading.
So, I feel I need to comment on one or two of your points, be it evidenced with archaeological profile or reasoned judgement.
My research into the reasoning behind the massacre is more complex than just ridding the land of the true bloodline to Wōden. True as that is, it must be known that the island was the last Pagan stronghold in 686 C.E. Christianity had become dominant across the land. Bishop Wilfrid was certainly keen to land grab, a lot of his wealth had been confiscated by the northern church for gross personal acquisitions. Fuelling a religious war against the remaining pagans was his modus operandi at that time. He did succeed in gaining huge tracts of land after the massacre. And true to the church, in perpetuity, I now live in an old vicarage on Wilfrid’s land here in the middle of the island!
Caedwalla (known as “the saint of serial killers”) and most probably a Wealas, lusted after the title of Bretwalda, (king of kings). He was known to be vicious and left a trail of killing across the southern lands. They made a dominating pair.
Add to this pestilence and the plague, prevalent at this time, one sure accusation made by the church would have been voiced loudly. “The Pagans and their gods have brought this pestilence upon us. We need to rid the land of them once and for all!”
Wilfrid and Caedwalla may have sought approval from the high church still in Ripon for this assault on island people. Wilfrid certainly needed approval.
A very young Bede was resident in Ripon monastery, plague had recently decimated his community and only Bede and his Abbott were left standing. They must have been traumatised. Permission to massacre may have been given under this duress.
I have discovered a little-known tract from Bede, curiously stepping out of church dogma to write this” “We still honour Woden’s name in variants of the word-stem Wednes- in English place names and one of the days of our week. So, we read in Book 1 of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: “From this Woden arose all our royal kindred”.
This text, from one of our oldest surviving English histories, was no routine description of an accident of descent but a deliberate statement.
Was this Bede remembering that conversation long ago and feeling regret?
To address the comment of lack of evidence of a massacre:-
It is a well-known fact and admission by island archaeologists, that our record of digs and finds is lamentable. That is entirely due to gross under-funding over decades. And no reflection on the dedication and skill of resident archaeologists. They are a smashing bunch of people.
To date there are over 300 unexcavated burials on the island, and this does not include the ‘the black barrow’ situated down from the Longstone, site of the major battle in 686C.E. and named by many old island folk as the burial of the dead from the massacre. It is privately owned and unexcavated.
And I do want to comment on the population numbers as “thousands”. The latest approx. number given by an eminent archaeologist was about 1200, namely in the fertile land valley. And I really need to reiterate that plague had decimated the populations quite rigorously. Add to that, the Pagan people cremated their dead more than inhumation. So, remains are few.
To address the naming and physiognomy of the island pagan people, Both the names Jutes and Anglo Saxon are misnomers. I turn to Tacitus and Pliny for evidence and accuracy as they both had neither a religious axe to grind nor over inflated egos with personal agendas. They were pure chroniclers in the best sense of the word.
I call the peoples Suevii and the seven tribes that migrated to our shores over time:-
Reudignians, Aviones, Anglii, Warinni, Eudose, Suacones, Niuthones. Within this group are the Anglii (Anglo) and the Eudose (Jutes)
(refer:- S. Pollington, The elder Gods)
There was also much inter marriage and movement in these uncharted years. Professor Alice Roberts has opened a whole new scenario we can learn from. Archaeological DNA profiling has unearthed remarkable evidence that shows a much more integrated population. Freislanders populated these lands more than was thought.
And lastly, My name Whale is ancient Suevii, spelt Wahl, (meaning guardian of the Stones) My Dad always told me ‘old Saxon’ and we come from a race of giants. And that is true. He was 6ft 5ins and my nephew, 6ft 7 ins. I am a Kentish lass born in Orpington. Incredibly only just discovered, the first Royal seat of the Oiscingas, by Cyng Oisc, son of Hengist. I remember playing with the swans in Eynsford where the Royal mead hall was built!
To the question of the islanders welcoming and safeguarding the Vikings. My research finishes at 686C.E. so no comment, except to say, the island was Christian by then. But the appreciation of an artistic culture, as the Vikings were most certainly adept in those skills was more appealing than any divisions. The Suevii were accomplished artists and craftsmen.
Bright Blessings Jan Harper whale
Please visit our website:- the-wihtwara.co.uk
We are now selling the Wihtwara Trilogy on Etsy: signed copies now available at the wihtwaraemporium.etsy.com
The idea that ‘the church’ committed genocide; I suspect is a conjectural perception seen through the eyes of modern academics who only know a modern world of such brutality; I am deeply suspect of the ancient world being seen through these materialistic eyes and writing history from the words of roman academics that; like now; I doubt were free from extraordinary feats of propaganda.
Unfortunately much of the empirical evidence of archaeology is also interpretedin this manner; for instance; much of the saxon finds include weapons and armour; but academics seem allergic to realising that these are spiritual objects representing spiritual purposes; also many battles are talked about in ancient writings but I have yet to read of a battlefield having been found; I point historians to the mahabharata; an Indian text speaking of a great battle which is the story-play of the stages of spiritual enlightenment. Our ancestors lived spiritually in their cultural communities NOT materialistic corporate mercenaries. Their outlook on this world was wholly different than ours.