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,…

Anglian-era York at the York Festival of Ideas

The 2017 York Festival of Ideas will be running from 6-18 June, with the title The Story of Things. With a number of the events relating to York’s Anglian era, I was asked to translate a small number of Anglo-Saxon riddles to decorate the promotional bookmarks for this strand of the festival. The three riddles,…

Faithful cross, gate of heaven

Today is Good Friday, the day which commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.  For today’s blogpost, I’ve decided simply to post and translate some Anglo-Saxon texts dedicated to the Holy Cross: a hymn, a poem, and two prayers.  As my research is all about how texts were adapted and reused in different contexts, in each…

An Old English Alphabet (part 2)

In my previous post, I took a journey through the Old English language, exploring a single word beginning with the letters from A to L, using each one to explain a particular characteristic of the language.  Here, I will carry on from M until the end of the alphabet … M is for Micel Micel…

An Old English Alphabet (part 1)

Sometimes, in Anglo-Saxon manuscripts, we come across grammatical treatises and lists of Latin words, to act as learning aids for those new to the vocabulary and grammar of the main language of the church.  Unfortunately for us, nobody at the time created word lists in Old English: there was no real need, and dictionaries as…

Let your works be dead: the haunting House of Fame

In the summer of 2002, in preparation for my final-year university module on the works of Geoffrey Chaucer, I started reading a rather odd sort of poem.  The House of Fame made little immediate impact on me, other than the image of a magnificent (and truculent) eagle bearing the poet up to the heavens and…

Have mercy on me, O God: Psalm 50 in the Anglo-Saxon church

I have a new article out!  ‘Which Psalms Were Important to the Anglo-Saxons? The Psalms in Tenth- and Eleventh-Century Prayer and Medical Remedies’ is part of a special edition of English Studies on the psalms in Anglo-Saxon and Anglo -Norman England, edited by Helen Appleton and Francis Leneghan, and I am grateful to both of…

Lots of Wynn

It is one year to the day since my first ever post on For the Wynn!  Thanks to all of you who have read my posts, commented on them, and passed them on.  Today I’m celebrating my bloggiversary by writing about the letter Ƿ (wynn).  Ƿ is the Anglo-Saxon letter w, meaning ‘joy’; and, as…

Solutions for snakes

I recently wrote a blogpost about fruit in Anglo-Saxon England, including the fruit in the Garden of Eden, and that got me thinking: whose idea was it to eat the fruit in the first place?  Snakes are abundant in medieval manuscripts if you know where to look – tempting Eve, biting people, generally causing a…