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The Old English Christmas Festival

Mound 2 Sam newton

with Dr Sam Newton

at the Old Court, Sutton Hoo (map)
on Saturday, 15th December 2012

Rediscover the magic of Christmas with a look at the history of the great midwinter festival and the archaeology of feasting, which together paint a picture of its significance and 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
(There may be variations to the programme on the day – all these subjects will be covered, but not necessarily in the advertised order.)
  10.00 Coffee on arrival  
  10.15 The Old English Calendar  
  11.15 Coffee  
  11.45 The Old English Yuletide Feast  
  12.45 Lunch break  
  14:00 What has Wayland to do with Christ?  
  15:00 Tea break  
  15:15 Christmas at Camelot –Sir Gawain and the Green Knight  
  16:20 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 as an independent scholar and has contributed to many radio and television programmes. He 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 First Poems in English (Penguin Classics 2008)
Barron, W.R.J. (ed. & tr.), Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Manchester 1974).
Branston, B., The Lost Gods of England (Thames & Hudson 1957, 1974)
Chaney, W.A., The Cult of Kingship in Anglo-Saxon England (Manchester 1970)
Dunn, M., The Christianization of the Anglo-Saxons, c.597–c.700 (London, 2009)
Ellis Davidson, H., The Lost Beliefs of Northern Europe (Routledge 1993)
Evans, A., The Sutton Hoo Ship-Burial (British Museum 1986)
Hutton, R., The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain (Oxford 1996).
Lee, C., Feasting the Dead: Food and Drink in Anglo-Saxon Burial Rituals (Woodbridge 2007)
Mayr-Harting, H., The Coming of Christianity to Anglo-Saxon England, 3rd edn (Philadelphia 1991)
Newton, S., The Reckoning of King Rædwald (Redbird 2003)
Owen, G., Rites and Religions of the Anglo-Saxons (London, 1981)
Tolkien, J.R.R. (tr), Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Sir Orfeo, ed. C.Tolkien (Unwin 1975).
Turville-Petre, E.O.G., Myth and Religion of the North – The Religion of Ancient Scandinavia (London 1964)
Wilson, R., The Lost Literature of Medieval England (Methuen 1952, 1970)

Bookings

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 wuffingeducation.co.uk
(replace 'AT' by '@' in order to send email - we used 'AT' to avoid spam robots automatically sending us emails)
Website www.wuffingeducation.co.uk

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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....
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Updated 13 December, 2012
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