The Eastertide Festival in Early England

with Dr Sam Newton,(Independent Scholar)
at Sutton Hoo
Saturday, 12th April 2014.

Rediscover the magic of Easter with an exploration of the significance of this ancient festival in early England.

We begin with a look at the Old English calendar, which reveals how the pre-Christian year was structured.  We shall then consider how this calendar was transformed into the Christian year – how, for example, did the month of the Old English goddess Éostre become the great Easter festival?  We shall also consider the Council of Whitby and some of the ways in which Eastertide came to be celebrated in England, with special attention to the Cult of the Cross, using examples from medieval art and literature, especially The Dream of the Rood.

Provisional Programme

09.50 – 10.15:                Coffee on arrival

10.15 – 11.15:                The Old English Calendar

11.15 – 11.45:                Coffee break

11.45 – 12.45:                The Old English Eastertide

12.45 – 14.00:                Lunch break

14.00 – 15.00:                 The Synod of Whitby

15.00 – 15.20:                Tea break

15.20 – 16.20:                The Cult of the Cross

c.16.20:                            Thanks and Close

Some Suggestions for Optional Background Reading (not essential but may be of interest for some):

Alexander, M., The First Poems in English (Penguin Classics 2008)
Alexander, M., Old English Literature  (Macmillan 1983)
Blair, J., The Church in Anglo-Saxon Society (Oxford 2005)
Branston, B., The Lost Gods of England (Thames & Hudson 1957, 1974)
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)
Dunn, M., The Christianization of the Anglo-Saxons, c.597–c.700 (London, 2009)
Ellis Davidson, H., The Lost Beliefs of Northern Europe (Routledge 1993)
Farmer, D.H., The Oxford Dictionary of Saints (Oxford University Press, 1978)
Gallyon, M., The Early Church in Eastern England (Lavenham 1973)
Hoggett, R., The Archaeology of the East Anglian Conversion (Woodbridge 2010)
Hutton, R., The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain (Oxford 1996)
Lee, C., Feasting the Dead: Food and Drink in Anglo-Saxon Burial Rituals (Woodbridge, 2007)
Mayr-Harting, H., The Coming of Christianity to Anglo-Saxon England (Oxford 1977)
McClure, J. & R.Collins, (eds.), Bede: the Ecclesiastical History of the English People (Oxford 1999)
Mitchell, B., & F.Robinson, A Guide to Old English (Blackwell 1986-2001)
North, R., Heathen Gods in Old English Literature (Cambridge 1997)
Owen, G., Rites and Religions of the Anglo-Saxons (London, 1981)
Turville-Petre, G., Myth and Religion of the North: The Religion of Ancient Scandinavia (London 1964)
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)

About Dr Sam Newton

samSam 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 also a Director of Wuffing Education and an accredited NADFAS lecturer


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