adapted from a design by George Bain based on the Book of Kells home Programme Bookings Shop The Wuffings .
Wuffing Education

Old English Riddles and the Dream of the Rood

Ruthwell Cross

with Dr Sam Newton

at Tranmer House, Sutton Hoo
on Saturday March 19th 2005

This study-day provides an introduction to the Old English verse riddles, which reveal so much about the Old English thought-world. We shall consider several in detail – how they work and their possible solutions. We shall see that many are best understood in the context of the genre of the poetry of wonder and wisdom. We shall also look at one the greatest of Old English religious poems, the Dream of the Rood – itself a kind of riddle – where the story of the Crucufixion is told from the unique perspective of the Cross itself. This wonderful text survives in several versions, including a runic one inscribed on the early eighth-century Ruthwell Cross (illustrated above).

Provisional Programme
  10.00 Coffee on arrival  
  10.15-11.15 Introducing the Old English riddles  
  11.15 Coffee  
  11.30-12.30 Riddles soluble and insoluble  
  12.30 Lunch break  
  14:00-15.00 The Dream of the Rood [1]  
  15:00 Tea break  
  15:15-16.15 The Dream of the Rood [2]  

About Dr Sam Newton

After early experiences in archaeology, Sam Newton graduated from the University of East Anglia with a first in English Literature in 1983. His Ph.D for research into the Old English epic of Beowulf, supervised by Professor Michael Lapidge at the Dept of Anglo-Saxon, Norse, & Celtic at the University of Cambridge, was awarded in 1991. The thesis provided the basis for his book, The Origins of Beowulf and the pre-Viking Kingdom of East Anglia, published in 1993 (with D.S. Brewer) and now in its 3rd print-run.

He has been researching the history of the East Anglian kingdom and working as a free lance tutor in Early Medieval Studies (Old English and Viking Literature, Language, History, & Archaeology) for nearly twenty years. He is currently working on a book about the history of King Rædwald.

For further information on his work, see Dr Newton’s Wuffings’ Web site at


Some suggestions for further reading
(useul but not essential)

Alexander, M., The Earliest English Poems (Penguin 1966)

Alexander, M., Old English Literature (Macmillan 1983)

Mitchell, B., & F.Robinson, A Guide to Old English (Blackwell 1986-2001)


Please phone or email to check the availability of places and then send the application form and a cheque for £35, payable to Wuffing Education to:

Wuffing Education,
4 Hilly Fields,
Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 4DX
(tel : 01394 386498)

Email cliff AT
(replace 'AT' by '@' in order to send email - we used 'AT' to avoid spam robots automatically sending us emails)

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