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Inscriptions from the 1st century AD provide the earliest physical evidence for a Germanic presence in Britain. From at least that time until the conversion of the Anglo-Saxon kings in the late 600s Britain had, to varying degrees, a heathen Germanic culture. After a presence of six centuries a new group of heathens arrived. Scandinavians brought with them beliefs, attitudes and a world view that were much like those that survived in Anglo-Saxon England. The Scandinavian arrival extended the heathen period to almost a thousand years.
The purpose of the work is to bring together a range of evidence for pre-Christian beliefs and attitudes to the Otherworld drawn from archaeology, linguistics, literary studies and comparative mythology. The rich and varied English tradition influenced the worldview of the later mediaeval and Norse societies. Aspects of this tradition are with us still in the 21st century.