In a circle of trees

A tree God set in paradise, and its fruit forbade to Adam and Eve. And him bi twegin     beamas stodon þa wæron utan     ofætes gehlædene, gewered mid wæstme,     swa hie waldend god, heah heofoncyning     handum gesette, þæt þær yldo bearn     moste on ceosan godes and yfeles,     gumena æghwilc, welan and wawan.     Næs se wæstm gelic!…

Rereading, retelling, rediscovering Beowulf

A strange creature attacks a warrior hall, killing the men night after night, until a hero comes and slays him.  The creature’s mother takes her revenge and is likewise vanquished in battle.  But the hero meets his own end when, later in life, he kills a dragon who terrorises his own people. I won’t pretend…

Now open: Anglo-Saxon Exhibition at the British Library

Hwæt!  The British Library’s new exhibition, Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Art, Word, War, has now opened.  I have had the great privilege of working alongside the curators, being one of the first to see the completed exhibition, and of celebrating the official opening. A number of the manuscripts which I have written about in my blogposts are…

Living on loaned time

Autumn has come to London: a mostly hot summer suddenly turned in the final week of September. I like early autumn, the time just before and just after the emniht (or ‘equal-night’, as an Anglo-Saxon would have called the equinox), when there is still some warmth and plenty of sunlight, but a slight nip in…

Loveliest of women, work of God

At the start of June, I took place in a dramatised version of the Old English poem known as Genesis B, staged as part of the conference Down There: Uncovering the Infernal in the Early Middle Ages at University College London. Now that the play is over, I thought it might be time for a…

God bless my epiglottis: why I love the Lorica of Laidcenn

In this blog, I have written a lot about Anglo-Saxon prayer, medicine and poetry. Of course, these aren’t exclusive categories: medicine sometimes involved prayer, and prayers could be in the form of poetry. And sometimes, the same text can be all three. The Lorica of Laidcenn is a good example of this. A lorica is…

Onwards I go: may I meet with friends

It’s always interesting to see which words other languages have which are missing from one’s own.  Old English, being somewhat similar to modern German, has a tendency to create compound words to a greater extent than modern English does, leading to words such as tidfara – a traveller whose time to journey has come.  So…

Anglo-Saxon Riddles

I hope you’re enjoying the summer (or winter)!  I’m spending it adapting my doctoral thesis into a book, which is taking up a lot of my writing time at the moment, and I don’t have much left in which to write this blog.  Still, I’d hate to miss a fortnightly post date. A couple of…

Strange beings: translating some Exeter Riddles

I saw four strange beings travel together: black were their tracks, very dark traces.  Fast on its journey, bolder than birds, it flew in the air, dived beneath the waves.  The labouring fighter suffered restlessly, he who shows all four of them the paths over ornamented gold. The four strange beings, if you were wondering,…