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

From Yuletide to Nativity Christmas in Early England

The Nativity from the Front Panel of the Franks’ Casket [British Museum]

with Dr Sam Newton

at Tranmer House, Sutton Hoo (map)
on Saturday 8th December, 2007

Rediscover the magic of Christmas with an exploration of the significance of the great midwinter festival and a look at how it was celebrated in early England.

We begin the day 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 Módra Niht, “Mothers’ Night” become Christmas Eve? We shall also consider some of the ways in which the feast of Yuletide and the legend of the Nativity came to be celebrated in England, using examples from Anglo-Saxon art and from Old and Middle English literature.

Provisional Programme
  10.00 Coffee on arrival  
  10.15 The Old English Calendar  
  11.15 Coffee  
  11.30 The Old English Yuletide  
  12.30 Lunch break  
  14:00 What has Ingeld to do with Christ?  
  15:00 Tea break  
  15:15 Christmas at Camelot –Sir Gawain and the Green Knight  
  16:15 Close  

About Dr Sam Newton

Dr Sam Newton is an independent historian who has lectured widely around the country 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)

Alexander, M., The Earliest English Poems (Penguin Classics 1966)
Anderson, E.R., “The Seasons of the Year in Old English”Anglo-Saxon England 26 (1997), pp.321-263.
Barron, W.R.J. (ed. & tr.), Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: text and facing translation (Manchester 1974).
Bengtsson, Frans G., The Long Ships, trans. M.Meyer (London 1954, 1956).
Ellis Davidson, H., The Lost Beliefs of Northern Europe (Routledge 1993)
Harrison, K., The Framework of Anglo-Saxon History to AD900 (Cambridge 1976), pp.1-14.
Hutton, R., The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain (Oxford 1996).
Mitchell, B., An Invitation to Old English and Anglo-Saxon England (Blackwell 1994).
Tolkien, J.R.R. (tr), Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Sir Orfeo, ed. C.Tolkien (Unwin 1975).
Wilson, R., The Lost Literature of Medieval England (Methuen 1952, 1970)


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