Very little narrative history of any kind was written in the fifth or sixth centuries in Western Europe. The ‘darkness’ of the dark ages is a product of this simple fact. There are nevertheless several primary sources, documents that were written at that time, which enable us to assemble an historical context for Arthur (see Chapter 4). A small number of them actually tell of Arthur and his actions. The major sources for Arthur’s time are the works of Nennius and Gildas, giving a view from the native British side, and the AngloSaxon Chronicle, giving a view from the side of the Germanic colonists. We often look back at the Anglo-Saxons with the benefit of hindsight and think of Athelstan, Alfred and Edward the Confessor, but the early Germanic colonists were interlopers, intruding upon a culture that had been a long time evolving, including a recent creative interaction with the Roman civilization. The Saxons had only an imperfect understanding of the British and Roman cultures. There is an Anglo-Saxon poem about the ruins of a Roman city, generally thought to be Bath, in which a Saxon gazes uncomprehendingly at the havoc committed by his own ancestors; he stares awe-stricken at the ravaged buildings, ‘masonry shattered by fate, buildings raised of old by giants’. This is atmospheric, filling the listener with wonder, but it is the response of an ignorant barbarian excited by ruins, shadows, giants and ghosts. By contrast, the courts of the British kings were civilized and decorous places where courtiers sipped Mediterranean wines out of fine imported glasses, places where education and the dual heritage of both British and Roman pasts was valued.