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

Black Dogs and Haunted Fenlands of Eastern England

Blythburgh [Sam Newton 2002]

with Dr Sam Newton

at Tranmer House, Sutton Hoo (map)
on Saturday 10th November, 2007

An exploration of terrors of wetlands and how they were exorcised by Beowulf and his saintly successors.

We begin with a look at examples of sites in Eastern England associated with the legend of the Shuck, the Black Dog of the marshlands. We shall attempt to elucidate the reality of the belief in such nightmares by comparison to the terrible scucca Grendel, the fen-dwelling lupine monster with burning-red eyes from the Old English epic of Beowulf. We shall consider Professor Tolkien’s observation that in Grendel we have something

a foe more evil than any human enemy … and yet incarnate in time, walking in heroic history, and treading the named lands of the North.

We shall also see how this great narrative of the heroic exorcism of such wetland horrors was given later form in certain saints’ lives, particularly those of the exorcist saints Guthlac of Crowland and Botulf of Iken.

Provisional Programme
  10.00 Coffee on arrival  
  10.15 The Home of Black Shuck  
  11.15 Coffee  
  11.30 Grendel and the Black Shuck  
  12.30 Lunch break  
  14:00 Beowulf and St Guthlac  
  15:00 Tea break  
  15:15 Beowulf and St Botulf  
  16:15 Close  

About Dr Sam Newton

Dr Sam Newton is an independent historian who has lectured widely around the country and as well as contributing to many television and radio programmes. In 1993 he published his first book, The Origins of Beowulf and the pre-Viking Kingdom of East Anglia, now in its fourth print run. His second book, The Reckoning of King Rædwald, was published in 2003. He is also a Director of Wuffing Education at Sutton Hoo and regular Time Team historian.

Some suggestions for further reading
(useful but not essential)

Bevis, T., Hereward: De Gestis Herwardi Saxonis (Westrydale 1982)
Fulk, R. (ed.), Interpretations of Beowulf: A Critical Anthology (Indiana University 1991)
Garmonsway, G., and J.Simpson, Beowulf and Its Analogues (Dent 1968, 1980)
Heaney, S. (tr.), Beowulf (Faber & Faber 1999)
Mayr-Harting. H., The Coming of Christianity to Anglo-Saxon England (London 1972)
Mitchell, B., & F.Robinson, (eds), Beowulf (Blackwell 1998)
Newton, S., The Origins of Beowulf and the pre-Viking Kingdom of East Anglia (Brewer 1993, 1994, 1999, 2004)
Orchard, A., Pride and Prodigies: Studies in the Monsters of the Beowulf Manuscript (Brewer 1995)
Rackham, O., A History of the Countryside (London 1986).
Scarfe, N., "St Botolph, The Iken Cross, & the Coming of East Anglian Christianity", Suffolk in the Middle Ages (Boydell 1986), pp.39-51.
Shippey, T.A. (ed.), The Shadow-walkers: Jacob Grimm’s Mythology of the Monstrous, Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies, Series V, 291)
Stevenson, F.S. "St Botolph (Botwulf) and Iken", Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History, 18 (1924), pp.30-52.
Trubshaw, Bob (ed.), Explore Phantom Black Dogs (Heart of Albion 2005)
West, S.E., N.Scarfe, & R.Cramp, "Iken, St Botolph, and the Coming of East Anglian Christianity", Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History, XXXV (1984), pp.279-301.


Please phone or email to check the availability of places and then send the application form and a cheque for £38, 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)

Return to list of current Study Days


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....
Updated 3 December, 2009
Website by
Adroit Solutions Ltd