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King Rædwald Reconsidered

Sutton Hoo Mound 1 (Hrædwaldeshlæw) 10th February 2010 (Sam Newton)

with Dr Sam Newton

at the Old Court, Sutton Hoo (map)
on Saturday, 19th January 2013

A reappraisal of the history of the great king thought to have lain in state aboard the magnificent Sutton Hoo ship-burial.

Rædwald was one of the early English overlords listed by Bede in his eighth-century Historia Ecclesiastica. Prior to Rædwald’s day, these overlords seemed to have ruled only south of the Humber. Following his victory at the Battle of the River Idle near Bawtry in 617 or 617, Rædwald appears to have extended his overlordship over the North of England as well. Although Bede does not state this explicitly, this inference emerges when we unravel Bede’s narrative and reorder the events to which he refers in a chronological order. As such, Rædwald can be seen to have been the first king of a united kingdom of the English-speaking peoples.
Also of great interest is Rædwald’s reconciliation of the religious differences in a transitional age and the part he seems to have played in the re-establishment of Roman Christianity in England following the Canterbury crisis which followed the death of Æthelbert of Kent in 616..
We shall thus consider he history of early England in general and of Rædwald of East Anglia (died c.625) in particular.

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 Rædwald in the Historical Record  
  11.15 Coffee  
  11.45 Rædwald and the Temple of Two Altars  
  12.45 Lunch break  
  14:00 Rædwald and the Canterbury Crisis  
  15:00 Tea break  
  15:15 Rædwald the First King of England  
  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).
Bruce-Mitford, R., Aspects of Anglo-Saxon Archaeology (Gollancz 1974).
Chadwick, H.M., “The Sutton Hoo Ship-Burial: Who Was He?”, Antiquity, 14 (1940), pp.76-87.
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).
Evans, A., The Sutton Hoo Ship-Burial (British Museum 1986).
Heaney, Seamus (tr.) Beowulf: An Illustrated Edition, ed. J.Niles (Norton 2007).
Higham, N., An English Empire: Bede and the Early Anglo-Saxon Kings (Manchester 1995).
Higham, N., The Convert Kings: Power and Religious Affiliation in Early Anglo-Saxon England (Manchester 1997).
Hines, J. (ed.), The Anglo-Saxons from the Migration Period to the Eighth Century: An Ethnographic Perspective (Boydell 2003).
Keynes, S., “Rædwald the Bretwalda”, in Voyage to the Other World: The Legacy of Sutton Hoo, ed. C.Kendall & P.Wells (Minneapolis 1992), pp.103-123.
Kirby, D.P., The Earliest English Kings (London 1991).
Mayr-Harting, H., The Coming of Christianity to Anglo-Saxon England (Oxford 1977; 3rd edn, Philadelphia 1991).
McClure, J. & R.Collins, (eds.), 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, 2004).
Newton, S., The Reckoning of King Rædwald: The Story of the King linked to the Sutton Hoo Ship-Burial (Redbird 2003).
North, R., Heathen Gods in Old English Literature Cambridge 1997).
Plunkett, S.J., Suffolk in Anglo-Saxon Times (Tempus 2005).
Scarfe, N., The Suffolk Landscape (Hodder & Stoughton 1972, Alastair 1986).
Scarfe, N., Suffolk in the Middle Ages (Boydell 1986).
Swanton, M., The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (Dent 1996; Phoenix 2000).
Turville-Petre, E.O.G., Myth and Religion of the North – The Religion of Ancient Scandinavia (London 1964).
Warner, P., The Origins of Suffolk (Manchester 1996).
Webster, L., & 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. 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.

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Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 4DX
tel : 01394 386498

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