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Wuffing Education

Rædwald's Heirs :The History of the Kingdom of the Wuffings, c.625-664

Photo by Stephen Wolfenden

with Dr Sam Newton

at Tranmer House, Sutton Hoo
on Saturday 9th April 2005

We spend the day exploring what can be deduced of the history of the Wuffing kingdom after the death of Rædwald (c.625).

We can see that the short reign of Rædwald’s son Eorpwald ended in assassination and uncertainty but that the kingdom was stable enough by c.631 for his step-son Sigeberht to succeed. Sigeberht is credited with establishing St Felix as the first bishop of the Eastern Angles at Dommoc, the possible site of which we shall consider. Sigeberht himself appears to have been the first English king to abdicate to become a monk, retiring into his minster at Beodricsworth.  He died a martyr in battle against the Mercian king Penda, c.640.  

Penda continued to dominate during the reigns of the next two kings, Rædwald's nephews Anna(or Onna), father of saints, and Æthelhere. The former was killed in battle by Penda, perhaps at Bulcamp (c.654), while the latter was killed at the battle of Winwæd (c.655) as an ally of Penda, who also died there. We shall attempt to make sense of the great drama that seems to lie behind these events.

The death of Penda marks a turning point in the history of the Wuffings for a more peaceful period ensued with the reign of the last of Rædwald's nephews, Æthelwald

reconstruction of the whale-bone writing tablet found at Blythburgh


Provisional Programme
  10.00 Coffee on arrival  
  10.15-11.15 Rædwald's Sons - Eorpwald and Sigeberht  
  11.15 Coffee  
  11.30-12.30 St Felix and the Dommoc Question  
  12.30 Lunch break  
  14:00-15.00 Rædwald's Nephews and the Coming of Penda  
  15:00 Tea break  
  15:15-16.15 Rædwald's Nephews and the Fall of Penda  

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)

Bruce-Mitford, R ., Aspects of Anglo-Saxon Archaeology (Gollancz 1974) 

The Sutton Hoo Ship-Burial , vol. 1 (British Museum 1975)

Higham, N. , An English Empire: Bede and the Early Anglo-Saxon Kings (Manchester 1995).

The Convert Kings: Power and Religious Affiliation in Early Anglo-Saxon England (Manchester 1997)

Kirby, D.P ., The Earliest English Kings (London 1991)

Newton, S.,The Reckoning of King Rædwald (Redbird Press 2003)

Sherley-Price, L., Bede: A History of the English Church and People (Penguin Classics 1955, 1968)

Scarfe, N.,The Suffolk Landscape (Hodder & Stoughton 1972, Alastair 1986)
Warner, P.,The Origins of Suffolk (Manchester 1996)



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
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We have learnt of the fame of the Wuffing folk-lords of long ago, of how those wolf-kings held the ancestral land of East Anglia....
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