An Introduction to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle


with Dr Sam Newton (Independent Scholar)
at Sutton Hoo
Saturday, 15th February 2014.

An illustrated introduction to one of the major documents of early English culture – not only does it include examples of the ancient English medium of alliterative poetry, it also contains some of the first original compositions in English prose, the language of which anticipates the King James version of the Bible.  Its great narrative scope also provides an Old Testament of English history.  We shall explore this wonderful document in the light of Anglo-Saxon art and culture.

Hitherto will our sparkeful Youth laugh at their great grandfathers’ English, who … left more glory to us… than we shall do by our forging anew words, and uncuth phrases.  Great verily was the glory of our tongue before the Norman  Conquest…(William Camden [1551-1623], Remains Concerning Britain, ed. R.D.Dunn [Toronto 1984], p.27.)

Provisional Programme

09.50 – 10.15:                Coffee on arrival

10.15 – 11.15:                The Compilation of the Chronicle

11.15 – 11.45:                Coffee break

11.45 – 12.45:                King Alfred and the Danes

12.45 – 14.00:                Lunch break

14.00 – 15.00:                 King Alfred’s Heirs

15.00 – 15.20:                Tea break

15.20 – 16.20:                The End of Anglo-Saxon England

c.16.20:                            Thanks and Close

Some Suggestions for Optional Background Reading

Alexander, M., The First Poems in English (Penguin Classics 2008)

P. S. Baker, Introduction to Old English (Blackwell, 2003)  – also online at

Backhouse, J. (ed.), The Golden Age of Anglo-Saxon Art (British Museum, 1984)

Garmonsway, G., The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (Dent 1953, 1975)

Keynes, S., & M. Lapidge (ed. & tr.), Alfred the Great: Asser’s Life of King Alfred and other contemporary sources (Penguin Classics 1983)

Lee, S.D., & E.Solopova, The Keys of Middle-earth: Discovering Medieval Literature through the Fiction of J.R.R.Tolkien (Palgrave Macmillan 2005)

Pollington, S., First Steps in Old English (Anglo-Saxon Books )

Plummer, C. (ed.), Two of the Saxon Chronicles Parallel, 2 vols (Oxford 1892, 1899)

Smyth, A., King Alfred the Great (Oxford 1995)

Swanton, M., The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (Phoenix 2000)

Webster, L., & J.Backhouse, The Making of England: Anglo-Saxon Art and Culture AD600-900 (British Museum 1991)

Wilson, R., The Lost Literature of Medieval England (Methuen 1952, 1970)

About Dr Sam Newton

Sam Newton was awarded his Ph.D at UEA 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 also a Director of Wuffing Education and an accredited NADFAS lecturer.



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