Beowulf - An Anglo-Saxon masterpiece

Time required – 60 minutes

The burial barrow at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk
The burial barrow at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk. Here, in 1939, the remains of a magnificent Anglo-Saxon ship burial were discovered.

Beowulf is the longest surviving Anglo-Saxon poem. It is a gloriously rich tale told over 3182 lines and is one of the foundation works for studies of English Literature; it was the inspiration for Tolkien's magnificent trilogy, 'Lord of the Rings'.

The presentation summarises the origins of this 1,400 year old story and explains how it came to be transposed to a manuscript about 1000 years ago. It describes themes and concepts that would have been familiar to Anglo-Saxons, who first listened to the story in their communal halls. Illustrations of the ancient document will undoubtedly impress and confirm the beauty and clarity of the Anglo-Saxon script. Listeners will hear about the manuscript's previous owners and be given a time-line through history, ending with current efforts to preserve the work for posterity, in the British Library.

The talk goes on to summarise the tale of the warrior Beowulf, who submits himself to three heroic contests against savage beasts, all in terrifying locations. There will be extracts, spoken in the Anglo-Saxon language and people will hear about some of the Christian themes which percolate through the text. Comparisons will be made with locations and features such as the burial mounds at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk and the treasure hoard discovered recently in Staffordshire.

If you're interested in booking Wiltshire Rose for a presentation please get in touch via our contact page.