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The Old English Yuletide Festival

Sutton Hoo Mound 1 (Hrædwaldeshlæw?) 16th January 2013 (Sam Newton)

with Dr Sam Newton
(Independent Scholar)

at the Old Court, Sutton Hoo (map)
on Saturday, 14th December 2013.

Rediscover the magic of Christmas with a look at the early history of the old Yuletide festival and the archaeology of feasting, which together paint a picture of both 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 early England, using examples from Anglo-Saxon art and from Old English and Old Norse literature.

Provisional Programme
(There may be variations to the programme on the day)
  10:00 Coffee on arrival  
  10:15 The Old English Calendar  
  11:15 Coffee  
  11:45 The Old English Yuletide Feast (1)  
  12:45 Lunch break  
  14:00 The Old English Yuletide Feast (2)  
  15:00 Tea break  
  15:15 What has Wayland to do with Christ?  
  16:20 Close  

About The Speaker

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, especially Time Team.. He is also a Director of Wuffing Education and an accredited NADFAS lecturer.

Some suggestions for further reading
(useful but not essential)

Alexander, M., The First Poems in English (Penguin Classics 2008)
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)
Sturluson, Snorri, Heimskringla: History of the Kings of Norway, tr. Lee M. Hollander, American-Scandinavian Foundation (Austin, Texas, 1964)
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)
Orchard, A., Cassell’s Dictionary of Norse Myth and Legend (London 1997).
Turville-Petre, E.O.G., Myth and Religion of the North – The Religion of Ancient Scandinavia (London 1964)


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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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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