The Saxons were a group of Germanic tribes first mentioned as living near the North Sea coast of what is now Germany, in the late Roman empire. They were soon mentioned as raiding and settling in many North Sea areas, as well as pushing south inland towards the Franks. Significant numbers settled in parts of Great Britain in the early Middle Ages. Many Saxons however remained in Germania, where they resisted the expanding Frankish Empire through the leadership of the semi-legendary Saxon hero, the Saxons earliest area of settlement is believed to have been Northern Albingia, an area approximately that of modern Holstein. This general area also included the probable homeland of the Angles, Saxons, along with the Angles and other continental Germanic tribes, participated in the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain during and after the 5th century. The British-Celtic inhabitants of the isles tended to refer to all of these collectively as Saxons. It is unknown how many Saxons migrated from the Continent to Britain, the Saxons may have derived their name from seax, a kind of knife for which they were known. The seax has a symbolic impact in the English counties of Essex and Middlesex. Their names, along with those of Sussex and Wessex, contain a remnant of the word Saxon. The Elizabethan era play Edmund Ironside suggests the Saxon name derives from the Latin saxa, Their names discover what their natures are, More hard than stones, in the Celtic languages, the words designating English nationality derive from the Latin word Saxones. The most prominent example, a loanword in English, is the Scottish Gaelic Sassenach and it derives from the Scottish Gaelic Sasunnach meaning, originally, Saxon, from the Latin Saxones. Scots- or Scottish English-speakers in the 21st century usually use it as a term for an English person. The Oxford English Dictionary gives 1771 as the date of the earliest written use of the word in English. Sasanach, the Irish word for an Englishman, has the same derivation, as do the words used in Welsh to describe the English people, Cornish terms the English Sawsnek, from the same derivation. In the 16th century Cornish-speakers used the phrase Meea navidna cowza sawzneck to feign ignorance of the English language, England in Scottish Gaelic is Sasainn. Other examples include the Welsh Saesneg, Irish Sasana, Breton saoz, and Cornish Sowson, Sowsnek, the label Saxons was also applied to German settlers who migrated during the 13th century to southeastern Transylvania. From Transylvania, some Saxons migrated to neighbouring Moldavia, as the name of the town, Sas-cut, sascut is located in the part of Moldavia that is today part of Romania. The Finns and Estonians have changed their usage of the term Saxony over the centuries to denote now the country of Germany
The remains of a seax together with a reconstructed replica
1868 illustration of Augustine addressing the Saxons
Europe in the late 5th century. Most names shown are the Latin names of 5th century peoples, with the exceptions of Syagrius (king of a Gallo-Roman rump state), Odoacer (Germanic king of Italy), and (Julius) Nepos (nominally the last Western Roman emperor, de facto ruler of Dalmatia).