The indications of increasing social stratification in early Anglo-Saxon society through the sixth and seventh centuries have to be seen in the context of the development of the documented Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. The development of ranked societies in post-Roman England forms one phase in the formation of the English state. At its roots the process would have been started by successful descent groups who had the ability to attract followers competing with each other. That competition would have been articulated through the acquisition of valuables, conspicuous consumption through both gift-giving and aggression. Theories concerned with the formation of the undeveloped state emphasise the role of conflict between and within societies. There are also integrative processes such as the benefits of public works, redistribution, military organisation that lead to the growth in power of a few members of society (Service 1978; Claessen and Skalnik 1978; Webb 1975). There would be political dominance of the rulers and tributary obligations of the ruled, ‘legitimised by a common ideology of which reciprocity is the basic principle’ (Claessen 1978:640). As ruling families achieved control of a region and competed with their neighbours the growth of power could only be achieved by merger that might be brought about by marriage or warfare.