Wonder-Women of Early Anglo-Saxon England
with Dr Sam Newton
(Wuffing Education at Sutton Hoo)
at Sutton Hoo on Saturday, 23rd June 2018

On the festival day of St Æthelthryth, the Wuffing princess and founding abbess of Ely, we shall reassess female power among the Old English-speaking peoples.  Beginning with a look at the pre-Christian evidence, we shall see how this appears to have been realised in early Christian England by the impressive numbers of saintly royal abbesses like  St Æthelthryth and her sisters, especially St Seaxburh, queen of Kent, king-mother, and founding abbess of Minster on Sheppey, and St Wihtburh of Dereham.  Others include the extraordinary St Balthild, who began as slave but rose to become a Frankish princess, queen, king-mother, regent, nun, and saint.

Provisional Programme

09.50 – 10.15:          Coffee on arrival

10.15 – 11.15:          Female Power in Early England

11.15 – 11.40:          Coffee break

11.40 – 12.40:          Princess Æthelthryth and her sisters [1]

12.40 – 14.00:          Lunch break

14.00 – 14.50:          Princess Æthelthryth and her sisters [2]

14.50 – 15.10:          Tea break

15.10 – 16.00:          Other Formidable Women of Early England

c.16.00:                   Thanks and Close

About Dr Sam Newton

Sam Newton was awarded his Ph.D at UEA in 1991.  He published his first book, The Origins of Beowulf and the pre-Viking Kingdom of East Anglia, in 1993, and his second, The Reckoning of King Rædwald: the Story of the King linked to the Sutton Hoo Ship-Burial, in 2003.  His most recent publication is “The Forgotten History of St Bótwulf (Botolph)”, The Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History,

43 (2016), pp. 521-50, which is also available from his Academia  webpage https://independent.academia.edu/SamNewton , along with some of his other papers.  He has lectured widely around the country and has contributed to many radio and television programmes, especially Time Team.  He is a tutor for Cambridge University’s Institute of Continuing Education, an accredited NADFAS / Arts’ Society lecturer, and a Director of the Wuffing Education Study-Day Partnership at Sutton Hoo.

Some Suggestions for Optional Background Reading

  • Alexander, M., The First Poems in English (Penguin Classics 2008).
  • Ellis Davidson, H., Gods and Myths of Northern Europe (Penguin 1964).
  • Fairweather, J. [tr.] Liber Eliensis – A History of the Isle of Ely from the Seventh to the Eleventh Century (Boydell 2005).
  • Farmer, D.H., The Oxford Dictionary of Saints (Oxford 1978).
  • Gallyon, M., The Early Church in Eastern England (Lavenham 1973).
  • Heaney, S., Beowulf: A New Translation (London 1999).
  • Herbert, K., Peace-weavers & shield maidens: Women in early English society (Anglo-Saxon Books 1999).
  • James, E.,The Franks (Oxford 1988).
  • Parbury, K., Women of grace: A biographical dictionary of British saints, martyrs and reformers (Boston 1985).
  • Ridyard, S.J., The royal saints of Anglo-Saxon England (Cambridge 1988).
  • Rollason, D., Northumbria 500-1100 (Cambridge 2003).
  • Scarfe, Norman, Suffolk in the Middle Ages (Boydell 1986).
  • Sherley-Price, L., Bede: A History of the English Church and People (Penguin Classics 1955, 1968).
  • Stafford, P., Queen Emma and Queen Edith: queenship and women’s power in eleventh-century England (Blackwells 1997).
  • Stafford, P., “Political women in Mercia, eighth to early tenth centuries”, in eds  M.P.Brown & C.A.Farr, Mercia, an Anglo-Saxon Kingdom in Europe (Leicester University Press 2001).