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The Battle of Maldon (10th August 991) and the Beginning of the End of Anglo-Saxon England

Sunset over the battle-site 2001

with Dr Sam Newton

at the Old Court, Sutton Hoo (map)
on Saturday, 10th August 2013.

An Anniversary Special on one of the great heroic defeats of English history and the glorious Old English battle-poem which makes it so memorable.

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle provides an almost continuous narrative of the events that led to the fall of the house of Wessex in 1016 and the Danish conquest of England. We begin with the omens recorded in Chronicle that marked the beginning of the reign of Edgar’s son, Æthelræd ‘Unræd’, and a glance at military and political developments in Denmark at the time.
The Battle of Maldon was the first major defeat for an English army in generations. Fortunately, we can supplement the Chronicle’s brief mention of this event with the greatest of surviving Old English battle poems. Using my edition and translation, we shall follow its vivid account of the battle and the way in which it transforms a military defeat into a moral victory. We shall also consider the clues it provides as to the precise location of the battle.
The spirit of resolute defiance realised by the power of this poem may have been echoed at other moments in Æthelræd’s reign – such as the Battle of Thetford in 1004, or the revival of English hope with the death of Sweyn Forkbeard and the return of the king in 1014. But the Chronicle’s relentless narrative culminates in the kingdom-winning victory of Sweyn’s son Cnút at the Battle of Assendún on 18th October 1016, the subject of another study-day later this year.

Provisional Programme
(There may be variations to the programme on the day)
  10.00 Coffee on arrival  
  10.15 England and Denmark in the late 10th Century  
  11.15 Coffee  
  11.45 The Opening of the Battle  
  12.45 Lunch break  
  14:00 The Last Stand of General Byrhtnoth & his men  
  15:00 Tea break  
  15:15 The Aftermath  
  16:20 Close  

About Dr Sam Newton

Sam Newton was awarded his Ph.D. 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).
Backhouse, J. (ed.), The Golden Age of Anglo-Saxon Art (British Museum 1984).
Bengtsson, Frans G., The Long Ships, trans. M.Meyer (London 1954, 1956).
Cooper, J., The Battle of Maldon: Fiction and Fact (Hambledon 1993).
Gordon, E.V., The Battle of Maldon (London, 1968).
Hart, C., The Danelaw (Hambledon 1992), pp.533-551.
Jones, G., A History of the Vikings (2nd ed., Oxford 1984).
Magnusson, Magnus, The Vikings (rev.ed. Tempus 2000).
Mitchell, B., & F.Robinson (eds), A Guide to Old English (Blackwell 1986, etc.).
Scragg, D. (ed.), The Battle of Maldon AD991 (Blackwell 1991).
Scragg, D., The Return of the Vikings: The Battle of Maldon 991 (Tempus 2006).
Swanton, M. (ed.), The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (Dent 1996; Phoenix 2000).
Tolkien, J.R.R., “The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm's Son” Tree and Leaf (Harper Collins 2001), pp. 121-150.


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 payment 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
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Website www.wuffingeducation.co.uk

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