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Wuffing Education

Old English Riddles


with Dr Sam Newton

in The Old Court, Sutton Hoo (map)
on Saturday, 19th March, 2011

This study-day provides an introduction to the Old English verse riddles preserved in the Exeter Book, which reveal much about the Old English thought-world. We shall consider several riddles in detail – how they work and their possible solutions. Many seem best understood in the context of the poetry of wonder and wisdom.
We shall also see how riddling is central to the language of Old English verse, and as an example examine one the greatest of the Old English religious poems, The Dream of the Rood, where the story of the Crucifixion is told from the unique perspective of the Cross itself.

Provisional Programme
  10.00 Coffee on arrival  
  10.15 The Word-Hoard of Old English Verse  
  11.15 Coffee  
  11.45 The Old English Riddles [1]  
  12.45 Lunch break  
  14:00 The Old English Riddles [2]  
  15:00 Tea break  
  15:15 The Dream of the Rood  
  16:15 Close  

About Dr Sam Newton

Sam Newton was awarded his Ph.D at UEA in 1991 and is the author of The Origins of Beowulf and the pre-Viking Kingdom of East Anglia (1993) and The Reckoning of King Rædwald, (2003). He has lectured widely around the country and has contributed to many radio and television programmes, including Michael Wood on Beowulf and Digging for Britain with Dr Alice Roberts. Sam is also a Director of Wuffing Education, NADFAS lecturer, and Time Team historian.

Some suggestions for further reading
(useful but not essential)

Alexander, M., The Earliest English Poems (Penguin Classics 1966, 1977, 1991; facing-text edition, Univ. of California 1970)
Alexander, M., Old English Riddles from the Exeter Book. Verse translations. (Anvil Press, London 1980, 1982, 1984, 2007)
Alexander, M., Beowulf: A Glossed Text (Penguin English Poets, 1995; rev. edition 2000)
Alexander, M., The First Poems in English (Penguin Classics 2008)
Alexander, M., A History of Old English Literature (Macmillan, London 1983, 1986; 3rd, rev. edition, Broadview, Canada, 2001)
Mitchell, B., & F.Robinson, A Guide to Old English (Blackwell 1986-2001)
Pollington, S., Wordcraft: a concise dictionary and thesaurus, modern English to Old English (Anglo-Saxon Books 1993)
Pollington, S., The Mead-Hall. The feasting tradition in Anglo-Saxon England (Anglo-Saxon Books 2003)
Pollington, S., First Steps in Old English (Anglo-Saxon Books 2006)
Porter, J., Anglo-Saxon Riddles (Anglo-Saxon Books 1995, 2003)
Shippey, T.A., Old English Verse (London 1972)
Whitelock, D., Sweet's Anglo-Saxon Reader (Oxford 1967)


Please phone or email to check the availability of places.  Study Days are £38 per person, which includes a full day of lectures, access to the NT site, parking, coffee and tea throughout the day, and access to the NT exhibition.  Once you have reserved your place please send a cheque to confirm the booking. For your first booking please complete the application form to ensure that we have recorded your contact details correctly.

Wuffing Education,
4 Hilly Fields,
Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 4DX
(tel : 01394 386498)

Email cliff AT
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