Bede and the Beginnings of England
with Dr Sam Newton (Independent Scholar)
at Sutton Hoo, Saturday, 13th June, 2015.


An introduction to the primary source for our understanding of the history of early Anglo-Saxon England, starting with a reassessment of Bede’s account of the legend of Hengest and Horsa. Using largely the Old English version of Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People, we shall then look at what he tells us – and what he does not tell us – of the history of the seventh century and of the high kings of Britain.

Provisional Programme:

09.50 – 10.15:         Coffee on arrival

10.15 – 11.15:         Bede and The Beginnings of England

11.15 – 11.40:         Coffee break

11.40 – 12.40:         Bede’s story of Hengest and Horsa

12.40 – 14.00:         Lunch break

14.00 – 14.50:         Bede’s Magnificent Seven (1)

14.50 – 15.10:        Tea break

15.10 – 16.00:         Bede’s Magnificent Seven (2)

c.16.00:                   Thanks and Close

About Dr Sam Newton:

Sam Newton was awarded his Ph.D in 1991 and is the author of The Origins of Beowulf and the pre-Viking Kingdom of East Anglia (1993) and The Reckoning of King Rædwald (2003). He has lectured widely around the country as an independent scholar and has contributed to many radio and television programmes, especially Time Team.. He is a Director of Wuffing Education, NADFAS lecturer, and tutor for Cambridge University’s Institute of Continuing Education.

Some Suggestions for Optional Background Reading:

Primary Sources

  • The standard available editions, neither of which is perfect, are
  • Bede, The Ecclesiastical History of the English People, translated by B.Colgrave, edited with an Introduction & Notes by J.McClure & Roger Collins, Oxford World’s Classics (1969, 1994, 1999); and
  • Bede, The Ecclesiastical History of the English People, translated by Leo Sherley-Price, revised by R.E.Latham, Penguin Classics (Harmondsworth 1955, 1965, 1968; revised, with an introduction by D.H.Farmer, 1990).

Secondary Sources

  • Alexander, M., The First Poems in English (Penguin Classics 2008)
  • Brooks, N., Anglo-Saxon Myths of State and Church (Hambledon 2000).
  • Brown, Michelle P., How Christianity came to Britain and Ireland (Lion Hudson 2006)
  • Chaney, W.A., The Cult of Kingship in Anglo-Saxon England (Manchester 1970)
  • Charles-Edwards, T. (ed.), After Rome, c.400-c.800 (Oxford, 2003).
  • Fleming, R., Britain After Rome. The Fall and Rise 400-1070 (London 2011)
  • Halsall, G., Worlds of Arthur: Facts and Fictions of the Dark Ages (Oxford 2013, paperback 2014)
  • Higham, N., An English Empire: Bede and the Early Anglo-Saxon Kings (Manchester 1995).
  • Higham, N., The Convert Kings: Power and Religious Affiliation in Early Anglo-Saxon England (Manchester 1997).
  • Hoggett, R., The Archaeology of the East Anglian Conversion (Woodbridge 2010)
  • Keynes, S., “Rædwald the Bretwalda”, in Voyage to the Other World: The Legacy of Sutton Hoo, ed. C. Kendall & P. Wells (Minneapolis 1992), pp. 103-123.
  • Kirby, D.P., The Earliest English Kings (London 1991).
  • Mayr-Harting, H., The Coming of Christianity to Anglo-Saxon England (Oxford 1977)
  • Newton, S., The Reckoning of King Rædwald: The Story of the King linked to the Sutton Hoo Ship-Burial (Redbird 2003).
  • Webster, L., and J. Backhouse, The Making of England: Anglo-Saxon Art and Culture AD 600-900 (British Museum 1991)
  • Wilson, R., The Lost Literature of Medieval England (Methuen 1952, 1970).