The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

Time required – 60 minutes

The Peterborough Manuscript of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
The Peterborough Manuscript of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which is held in the Bodleian Library at Oxford.

This rich and fascinating presentation looks at a series of glorious manuscripts that can be truly described as national treasures. The talk emphasises the documents’ significance and relevance and describes how the works probably originated in Wessex during the 9th century.

The material is easy to understand and contains wonderful illustrations of surviving texts and explains why the first Chronicles were written and how they evolved from Church annals. There are several references to the influences of King Alfred the Great, who was passionate about the early history of the English speaking people and the Venerable Bede who wrote the first biographical account of the Anglo-Saxons.

The talk considers where the manuscripts were kept over the centuries and how they survived for 1000 years. Listeners will hear intriguing accounts of events that occurred 800 years ago; they were written by men who lived through those difficult and violent times. Particular emphasis will be given to the occasion when the first ‘King of England’ rallied the country’s different regions in order to defend them against a common foe.

The presentation considers the Chronicle in the context of major events like the Viking and Norman invasions and compares the manuscripts to other important documents such as the Domesday Book; it finishes with a quotation from the written work of Alfred the Great.

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