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

Old English Stringed Music and Verse


with Dr Sam Newton

at Tranmer House, Sutton Hoo (map)
on 7th November 2009

This study-day will attempt to recapture something of the lost music of Sutton Hoo and the seventh century through an exploration of the archaeology of the Old English hearpe or lyre, and of the references to - and images of - the instrument in the surviving documentary sources, especially Old English poetry.
We shall begin with a look at the discovery of the fragments of a bejewelled example – the king’s own hearpe - stowed aboard the royal treasure-ship berthed beneath Mound One at Sutton Hoo, and how the instrument was reconstructed. More recent excavations at Snape and Prittlewell have not only confirmed the accuracy of the reconstruction, but, together with new readings of Old English verse, have also deepened our knowledge of the hearpe, how it was played, and who played it.
We are thus in a position to experiment with the playing of the instrument and its relation to poetry such as Cædmon’s Hymn, Widsith and Beowulf

Provisional Programme
  10.00 Coffee on arrival  
  10.15 The Sutton Hoo Hearpe and its Reconstruction  
  11.15 Coffee  
  11.45 Snape, Prittlewell, and other examples  
  12.45 Lunch break  
  14:00 The Music of Kings, Bards, and Cowherds  
  15:00 Tea break  
  15:15 Forgotten Verse of the Seventh Century  
  16:15 Close  

About Dr Sam Newton

Sam Newton was awarded his Ph.D at the University of East Anglia in 1991 and published his first book, The Origins of Beowulf and the pre-Viking Kingdom of East Anglia, in 1993. He has lectured widely as a free-lance scholar and has also contributed to many television and radio programmes. His latest book, The Reckoning of King Rædwald, was published in 2003. He is currently a Director of Wuffing Education, NADFAS lecturer, and Time Team historian.


Some suggestions for further reading
(useful but not essential)

Alexander, M., The First Poems in English (Penguin Classics 2008)
Alexander, M., Old English Riddles from the Exeter Book. Verse translations. (Anvil Press, London 1980, 1982, 1984, 2007)
Bruce-Mitford, R., Aspects of Anglo-Saxon Archaeology (Gollancz 1974)
Filmer-Sankey, W., & T.Pestell, Snape Anglo-Saxon Cemetery: Excavations and Surveys 1824-1992, EAA Report 95 (Ipswich 2001).
Heaney, S, (tr.) Beowulf: An Illustrated Edition, ed. J.Niles (Norton 2007)
Lawson, G., & S.Rankin, 'Music', 'Chant', & 'Musical Instruments', The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Anglo-Saxon England , ed. M.Lapidge (Oxford 2000)
McClure, J. & R.Collins, (ed. & tr.), Bede: the Ecclesiastical History of the English People (Oxford 1999).
Newton, S., The Origins of Beowulf and the pre-Viking Kingdom of East Anglia (Brewer 1993, 1994)
Newton, S., The Reckoning of King Rædwald (Redbird 2003)
Pollington, S., The Mead-Hall. The feasting tradition in Anglo-Saxon England (Anglo-Saxon Books 2003)
Webster, L., and J.Backhouse, The Making of England: Anglo-Saxon Art and Culture AD 600-900 (British Museum 1991)
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)

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