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

Beowulf and the First Dragon of English Literature

Smaug (from a painting by John Howe)

with Dr Sam Newton

at Tranmer House, Sutton Hoo (map)
on Saturday 24th November, 2007

“A dragon is no idle fancy. Whatever may be his origins… the dragon in legend is a potent creation of men’s imagination, richer in significance than his barrow is in gold” (J.R.R.Tolkien).

We begin with an introduction to the Northern dragon in early medieval art and literature. Usually associated with gold buried in barrows, it seems appropriate that one of the earliest and richest examples of the dragon in art is the gilt-bronze and garnet cloisonné dragon from the Sutton Hoo shield. The earliest and most authentic literary description is in the Old English epic Beowulf. We shall examine this and parallel accounts – especially that of Fafnir in the Old Icelandic Volsungasaga - with a view to establishing the true nature of the dragon of Northern legend.

Provisional Programme
  10.00 Coffee on arrival  
  10.15 The Dragon of Northern Legend  
  11.15 Coffee  
  11.30 The Dragon’s Treasure  
  12.30 Lunch break  
  14:00 The Dragon Awakes  
  15:00 Tea break  
  15:15 Beowulf’s Last Battle  
  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. (tr.), The Earliest English Poems (Penguin Classics 1966)
Alexander, M. (tr.), Beowulf: A Glossed Text (Penguin Classics 1995, 2000)
Bjork, R.E., & J.D.Niles (eds), A Beowulf Handbook (Nebraska University 1997, 1998)
Fulk, R. (ed.), Interpretations of Beowulf: A Critical Anthology (Indiana University 1991)
Garmonsway, G., & J.Simpson, Beowulf and Its Analogues (Dent 1968, 1980)
Heaney, S. (tr.), Beowulf (Faber & Faber 1999)
Lee, S. D., & E. Solopova, The Keys of Middle-earth: Discovering Medieval Literature through the Fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005)
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)
Orchard, A., A Critical Companion to Beowulf (Brewer 2003)


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
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