Anglo-Saxons – KQ6 – How effective was Anglo-Saxon justice?

Pupils work in groups to create a series of short dramatic enactments, each of which illustrates a way of keeping law and order / punishments meted out in Saxon times. These are then summarised before giving the real-life case of Edgar for them to decide how he should be punished. By way of stretch and challenge, pupils are asked to think of the different principles that underlay the punishments: revenge, loyalty etc. They conclude by designing an illustrated double-page spread for a school textbook and deciding which methods of keeping law and order were most effective.

How effective was Anglo-Saxon justice: what should we do with Edgar? Anglo-Saxons KQ6

Learning objectives

  • Pupils are able to describe the 6 main methods of keeping law and order in Anglo-Saxon times and predict which punishments fitted which crimes;
  • having studied examples of punishments meted out they can predict the punishments that actual Anglo-Saxon crimes attracted;
  • they can speculate as to which were the most effective methods of keeping order.


Slow reveal an artist’s reconstruction of trial by ordeal – in this case red hot iron. Explain how that worked. What do pupils think of the punishment? Ask them to consider the advantages

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