|5th century–9th century|
|Common languages||Old English (Englisc)|
The Haestingas were one of the tribes of Anglo-Saxon Britain. Their territory was a folkland located between the Eastbourne downs in East Sussex and the Romney Marsh in Kent that was absorbed by the Kingdom of Wessex in the ninth century. The tribe's name survives in Hastings in Sussex and Hastingleigh in Kent, as well as in the Old Prussian and modern Lithuanian names for the Vistula lagoon, Aīstinmari and Aistmarės respectively.
The name Haesti is an example of epenthesis, the addition of one or more sounds to a word at the beginning or end. It likely occurred with the introduction of the Gallic ethnonym Aesti to a Proto-Germanic language speaker. The root Aesti is a Latinized ethnonym of Ōstimíous which in turn is the accusative masculine plural of the Ancient Greek name Ὠστιμίους purportedly given to the Gallic Osismii tribe of Armorica by Pytheas circa 325 BC. The name literally means “ultimate” in Gaulish, carrying a connotation of “most remote” or “farthest away.”  The suffix -ingas is the Latinized version of inge, an ethnonym for the Ingaevones, a West Germanic cultural group living along the North Sea coast in the areas of Jutland, Holstein, and Frisia in classical antiquity. Their endonym was Hastinge.
The Haestingas were an amalgam of Aesti and Ingaevonic tribes that emerged as the former fled westward from modern-day Lithuania in fourth century. They are sometimes incorrectly identified as Jutes when in fact they were Scandinavian Ingaevones.[a] Attributions to a non-historical founder named Haesta are examples of founding myths.
The Aesti were first identified by the Roman historian Tacitus as a Baltic tribe that spoke a language similar to that of Britain in his first century treatise Germania. It is likely they were Gallic Osismii who migrated to the Baltic region after the Roman conquest of Gaul to participate in the amber trade. They were subsequently conquered by the Goths in the fourth century. Escaping westward some members of the tribe found refuge among and amalgamated with the Ingaevones before finally settling the Hastings peninsula.
Settlement patterns suggest the existence of a settlement at Hastings prior to the Roman conquest of Britain, a network of towns in Roman times along the Brede and Rother rivers connecting the ore-bearing Hastings peninsula with the far-western regions of Kent, and a network of ports linking the southeast coast of Britain with the Celtic port located at Bononia in Gaul. One such port appears to have been located at Old Winchelsea, a fishing village one mile southeast of Winchelsea on a shingle between modern-day Rye Harbour and Winchelsea Beach. It was eroded away by a storm in 1287 AD.
The Haestingas likely first settled the area around the town of Guestling - possibly from Hastingleigh in Kent - concurrent with the decline of the Roman port of Gesoriacum after the reign of Constantine III in 411 AD. They appear to have been initially organized in support of Gesoriacum, and in subsequent generations to have taken over de facto governance of the port at Old Wincheslea (known as Hastingaport until the region was reorganized by William the Conquerer). Their primary occupation was likely the trade of salted fish to Romano-Gauls and subsequently Franks across the English Channel.
Historians have presumed Mercian overlordship and/or sublimation into the Kingdom of Sussex, when in fact the tribe appears to have largely maintained its autonomy up until the Norman Conquest. They are not mentioned in the Tribal Hidage, suggesting they were free of Mercian influence at that time. Symeon of Durham nearly three centuries after the fact recounted the defeat of the gens Hestingorum by Offa of Mercia in 771 AD, though there is at best sporadic evidence of Mercian involvement in East Sussex after that date. While there are several Anglo-Saxon charters identifying a Watt of Sussex and several What/Watt place names, this suggestion of royalty takes place on the northwest fringes of Haestingas territory. The tribe does appear to have become a vassal to the Kingdom of Wessex in the mid-ninth century.
Their territory is mentioned in an entry of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in 1011 AD and was most famously the site of the Battle of Hastings in 1066 AD.