All the ordinary domestic animals were known. Cattle and sheep were pastured on the common lands appertaining to the village, while pigs, which (especially in Kent) seem to have been very numerous, were kept in the woods. Bee-keeping was also practised. In all these matters the invasion of Britain had brought about no change. The cultivation of fruit and vegetables on the other hand was probably almost entirely new. The names are almost all derived from Latin, though most of them seem to have been known soon after the invasion, at all events by the 7th century.
From the considerations pointed out above we can hardly doubt that the village possessed a certain amount of corporate life, centred perhaps in an ale-house where its affairs were discussed by the inhabitants. There is no evidence, however, which would justify us in crediting such gatherings with any substantial degree of local authority. So far as the limited information at our disposal enables us to form an opinion, the responsibility both for the internal peace of the village, and for its obligations to the outside world, seems to have lain with the lord or his steward (gerefa, villicus) from the beginning. A quite opposite view has, it is true, found favour with many scholars, viz. that the villages were orginally settlements of free kindreds, and that the lord's authority was superimposed on them at a later date. This view is based mainly on the numerous place-names ending in -ing, -ingham, -ington, etc., in which the syllable -ing is thought to refer to kindreds of cultivators. It is more probable, however, that these names are derived from persons of the twelfhynde class to whom the land had been granted.
In many cases indeed there is good reason for doubting whether the name is a patronymic at all.
The question how far the villages were really new settlements is difficult to answer, for the terminations -ham, -ton, etc. cannot be regarded as conclusive evidence. Thus according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (ann. 571) Bensington and Eynsham were formerly British villages. Even if the first part of Egonesham is English - which is by no means certain - it is hardly sufficient reason for discrediting this statement, for Canterbury (Cantwaraburg) and Rochester (Hrofes ceaster) were without doubt Roman places in spite of their English names. On the whole it seems likely that the cultivation of the land was not generally interrupted for more than a very few years; hence the convenience of utilizing existing sites of villages would be obvious, even if the buildings themselves had been burnt.
7. Towns. - Gildas states that in the time of the Romans Britain contained twenty-eight cities (civitates), besides a number of fortresses (castetta). Most of these were situated within the territories eventually occupied by the invaders, and reappear as towns in later times. Their history in the intervening period, however, is wrapped in obscurity. Chester appears to have been deserted for three centuries after its destruction early in the 7th century, and in most of the other cases there are features observable in the situation and plan of the medieval town which suggest that its occupation had not been continuous. Yet London and Canterbury must have recovered a certain amount of importance quite early, at all events within two centuries after the invasion, and the same is probably true of York, Lincoln and a few other places. The term applied to both the cities and the fortresses of the Romans was ceaster (Lat. castra), less frequently the English word burg. There is little or no evidence for the existence of towns other than Roman in early times, for the word urbs is merely a translation of burg, which was used for any fortified dwelling-place, and it is improbable that anything which could properly be called a town was known to the invaders before their arrival in Britain. The Danish settlements at the end of the 9th century and the defensive system initiated by King Alfred gave birth to a new series of fortified towns, from which the boroughs of the middle ages are mainly descended.
8. Houses. - Owing to the fact that houses were built entirely of perishable materials, wood and wattle, we are necessarily dependent almost wholly upon literary evidence for knowledge of this subject. Stone seems to have been used first for churches, but this was not before the 7th century, and we are told that at first masons were imported from Gaul. Indeed wood was used for many churches, as well as for most secular buildings, until a much later period. The walls were formed either of stout planks laid together vertically or horizontally, or else of posts at a short distance from one another, the interstices being filled up with wattlework daubed with clay. It is not unlikely that the houses of wealthy persons were distinguished by a good deal of ornamentation in carving and painting. The roof was high-pitched and covered with straw, hay, reeds or tiles. The regular form of the buildings was rectangular, the gable sides probably being shorter than the others. There is little evidence for partitions inside, and in wealthy establishments the place of rooms seems to have been supplied by separate buildings within the same enclosure. The windows must have been mere openings in the walls or roof, for glass was not used for this purpose before the latter part of the 7th century.
Stoves were known, but most commonly heat was obtained from an open fire in the centre of the building. Of the various buildings in a wealthy establishment the chief were the hall (heall), which was both a dining and reception room, and the "lady's bower" (brydbur), which served also as a bedroom for the master and mistress. To these we have to add buildings for the attendants, kitchen, bakehouse, etc., and farm buildings. There is little or no evidence for the use of two-storeyed houses in early times, though in the 10th and 11th centuries they were common. The whole group of buildings stood in an enclosure (tun) surrounded by a stockade (burg), which perhaps rested on an earthwork, though this is disputed. Similarly the homestead of the peasant was surrounded by a fence (edor).