Pre-Christian Gods of Old England in Art and Literature
with Stephen Pollington (Independent Scholar)
at the School of Music, Woodbridge School, Burkitt Road, Woodbridge IP12 4JH,
on Saturday 9th March 2019.

An exploration of the pre-Christian gods of the Anglo-Saxons, who they were, who worshipped them, and how. Evidence from England will be supplemented with Scandinavian and Continental material.  The strengths and weaknesses of pre-Christian culture will be examined, alongside the impetus to Christian conversion.

Provisional Programme

10.00 – 10.30:    Coffee on arrival

10.30 – 11.30:    Pre-Christian Gods: A sketch of what we know of the religion of the English before Christianity became the dominant ideology.

11.30 – 12.00:    Coffee break

12.00 – 13.00:    Background to the Study: Evidence and Where to Find It.

13.00 – 14.00:    Lunch break

14.00 – 14.45:    Gods and Fiends: Some shadowy figures from folklore and elsewhere.

14.45 – 15.15:    Tea break

15.15 – 16.00:    Woden the One-Eyed War-God: The influence of this god’s followers on aspects of life across Europe.

16.00:               Thanks and Close

About Stephen Pollington

Stephen has many published titles including works on the Old English language, military culture, healing and herblore, runes and feasting in the ‘meadhall’, as well as a double CD of readings in Old English.  He has lectured widely on aspects of Anglo-Saxon culture since 1991, from local history to the details of verse metre, from theories of the origins of the Germanic runes to the handling of Anglo-Saxon weaponry. He has worked on a number of television and radio programmes, and was script advisor to the ground-breaking 1000 AD, in which dramatic dialogue was spoken entirely in Old English and Old Norse.

His current project is a French-language two-volume introduction to runes to begin publication this year: Runes: L’Ecriture des Anciens Germains. Tome I: Origines et Développement.

For more on Stephen and his work, see his website at .


  • A truly excellent day, very well structured & lots of fascinating information
  • Good variety of well organised material
  • Steve provided a humorous and extremely comprehensive description of the topic
  • All very interesting – went at a very good pace
  • Always look forward to Steve Pollington days
  • Really information packed lectures & well ordered
  • well ordered & progressive notes, Good clear delivery, interesting & erudite.


Some Suggestions for Optional Background Reading

  • Adamson, C., Lund Hansen, U., Nielsen, F.O.& Watt, M. (eds.), Sorte Muld: Wealth, Power and Religion at an Iron Age Central Settlement on Bornholm (Rønne, 2009)
  • Aillagon, J.-J., (ed.), Rome and the Barbarians: The Birth of a New World (Milan, 2008)
  • Branston, B., The Lost Gods of England (London, 1957)
  • Chadwick, H.M., The Cult of Othin (Cambridge, 1899)
  • Chaney, W.A.,Paganism to Christianity in Anglo-Saxon England”, Harvard Theological Review, 53 (1960)
  • Russell, J.C., The Germanization of Medieval Christianity. A Sociohistorical Approach to Religious Transformation (Oxford, 1994)
  • Shaw, P., The Uses of Wodan – The Development of his Cult and of Medieval Literary Responses to It (Ph.D.thesis, Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Leeds, 2002) – can be downloaded from
  • Shepherd, C., A Study of the Relationship Between Style I Art and Socio-Political Change in Early Mediaeval Europe, B.A.R. International Series 745 (Oxford, 1998)
  • Shippey, T. (ed.), The Shadow-Walkers. Jacob Grimm’s Mythology of the Monstrous (Turnhout, 2005)
  • Speake, G., Anglo-Saxon Animal Art and its Germanic Background (Oxford, 1980)