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The throne subsequently passed to a series of kings with unknown genealogies.
During the 8th century, as the hegemony of Mercia grew, Wessex largely retained its independence.
Æthelwulf was succeeded in turn by his four sons, the youngest being Alfred the Great.
Wessex was invaded by the Danes in 871, and Alfred was compelled to pay them to leave. In 878 they forced Alfred to flee to the Somerset Levels, but were eventually defeated at the Battle of Edington.
By this point, there were no longer any Roman troops in Britain.
One of the English traditions about the Saxon arrival is that of Hengest and Horsa.
Modern archaeologists use the term "Wessex culture" for a Middle Bronze Age culture in this area (ca. A millennium before that, in the Late Neolithic, the ceremonial sites of Avebury and Stonehenge were completed on Salisbury Plain; but the final phase of Stonehenge was erected in the Wessex culture phase, early in the Bronze Age. Although agriculture and hunting were pursued during this long period, there is little archaeological evidence of human settlements.