Author: James Paz

Anglo-Saxon ‘things’ could talk. Nonhuman voices leap out from the Exeter Book Riddles, telling us how they were made or how they behave. In The Husband’s Message, runic letters are borne and a first-person speech is delivered by some kind of wooden artefact. Readers of The Dream of the Rood will come across a tree possessing the voice of a dreaming human in order to talk about its own history as a gallows and a rood. The Franks Casket is a box of bone that alludes to its former fate as a whale that swam aground onto the shingle, and the Ruthwell monument is a stone column that speaks as if it were living wood, or a wounded body.

This book uncovers the voice and agency that these nonhuman things have across Anglo-Saxon literature and material culture. It makes a new contribution to ‘thing theory’ and rethinks conventional divisions between animate human subjects and inanimate nonhuman objects in the early Middle Ages. Anglo-Saxon writers and craftsmen describe artefacts and animals through riddling forms or enigmatic language, balancing an attempt to speak and listen to things with an understanding that these nonhumans often elude, defy and withdraw from us. The active role that things have in the early medieval world is also linked to the Germanic origins of the word, where a þing is a kind of assembly, with the ability to draw together other elements, creating assemblages in which human and nonhuman forces combine. Anglo-Saxon things teach us to rethink the concept of voice as a quality that is not simply imposed upon nonhumans but which inheres in their ways of existing and being in the world; they teach us to rethink the concept of agency as arising from within groupings of diverse elements, rather than always emerging from human actors alone.

Series: Artes Liberales
Author: Lindy Brady

The Welsh borderlands were a distinctive territory where two peoples came together throughout the Anglo-Saxon period. It was here that men skilled at law drew up the Dunsate Agreement, to solve the impending problems with cattle theft. This book explores what sets the Dunsate Agreement apart from other Anglo-Saxon law codes grappling with cattle theft, highlighting that creators of this document, and the community that it concerns, included both Anglo-Saxons and Welsh. It argues that the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle represents the military culture of the Welsh borderlands in a distinctive way which aligns its inhabitants with outlaws. The book articulates a discernible culture in the Welsh borderlands prior to 1066. Bede's The Historia Ecclesiastica has long been interpreted as a narrative of Anglo/British strife. His rancour towards the pagan Mercians provides substantial information about the life of Penda of Mercia, whose entire reign over this borderlands kingdom was defined by consistent political and military unity with Welsh rulers. Expanding on the mixed culture, the book examines the various Latin and Old English Lives of the popular Anglo-Saxon saint, Guthlac of Crowland. Vernacular literary tradition reveals a group of Old English riddles that link the 'dark Welsh' to agricultural labour through the cattle they herd, and who have long been understood to show the Welsh as slaves. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is frequently cited as a paradigm of Anglo/Welsh antagonism. The book reveals that the impact of the Norman Conquest on the Anglo-Welsh border region was much greater than previously realised.

Lindy Brady

5 •• The Welsh borderlands in the Anglo‑Saxon Chronicle The previous chapters of this book have proposed that the Welsh borderlands had a culture of their own and were understood as a distinct region by the authors of those early Anglo-Saxon texts that mention this territory. This chapter moves forward chronologically to the tenth and eleventh centuries and suggests that political alliance in the Welsh borderlands during the later Anglo-Saxon period was a significant pattern across time. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a major historical source for the later

in Writing the Welsh borderlands in Anglo-Saxon England
Johanna Kramer

this motif, 1 is a distinctly Anglo-Saxon innovation that first appears early in the eleventh century in a group of insular manuscript illuminations, spreads to the Continent by the twelfth century and across western Europe in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. 2 The figure of the disappearing Christ introduces a particularly ‘liminal’ way of depicting the Ascension by focusing on the moment when Christ crosses from earth into heaven. Moreover, the feet in the visual iconography invite a comparative reading with the footprints of Christ in the Old English

in Between earth and heaven
Joanne Parker

2 Medievalism, Anglo-Saxonism and the nineteenth century Before it is possible to understand the particular appeal of Alfred to nineteenth-century Britain, it is necessary to have some idea of the broader cultural contexts in which the cult of the Saxon king germinated. As part of the Alfred Millenary commemorations in 1901, the historian Frederic Harrison – as was discussed in Chapter One – gave a speech at the British Museum. During this he asserted, ‘if ours was the age of progress, it was also the age of history’.1 The Victorian mania for Alfred was

in ‘England’s darling’
Abstract only
The Dunsoete Agreement and daily life in the Welsh borderlands
Lindy Brady

1 •• Introduction: the Dunsæte Agreement and daily life in the Welsh borderlands Sometime in late Anglo-Saxon England, a territory called the Dunsæte was having problems with cattle theft. Men skilled at law from within this community sat down together and drew up a document outlining an agreement that addressed the situation. They thought about what ought to happen in a variety of circumstances. If a man sees the tracks of his stolen cattle leave his own property and cross into his neighbour’s land, who is responsible for following the trail and trying to

in Writing the Welsh borderlands in Anglo-Saxon England
Abstract only
Harold Godwinson, the last Anglo
Lindy Brady

7 •• Conclusion: Harold Godwinson, the last Anglo-Saxon in the Welsh borderlands The Welsh borderlands were a distinctive territory where two peoples came together throughout the Anglo-Saxon period. This conclusion looks just past the Norman arrival in England to the continued depiction of this region as a cultural nexus – both of English and Welsh, and of AngloSaxon and Anglo-Norman England – in the Vita Haroldi. This understudied thirteenth-century text is, as Stephen Matthews has argued, a work of ‘secular hagiography’1 which claims that Harold was not

in Writing the Welsh borderlands in Anglo-Saxon England
Lindy Brady

4 •• The ‘dark Welsh’ as slaves and slave raiders in Exeter Book riddles 52 and 721 The previous chapter argued that the Latin and vernacular Lives of Saint Guthlac show a mixed Anglo-Welsh culture among warrior elites in the borderlands. This conceptualisation of the borderlands was not limited to the learned clerics responsible for Anglo-Saxon hagiography. More popular vernacular literary tradition reflected some of the same ideas. A group of Old English riddles whose setting is the Welsh mearc (march or boundary) depict a common culture of the borderlands in

in Writing the Welsh borderlands in Anglo-Saxon England
Lindy Brady

2 •• Penda of Mercia and the Welsh borderlands in Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica Bede’s eighth-century Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum, one of the earliest and most historically significant surviving texts of the Anglo-Saxon period, narrates the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity and the nascent formation of what might be called an ‘English’ identity. The Historia Ecclesiastica has long been interpreted as a narrative of Anglo/ British strife, because Bede is so critical of the Britons, who are in his perspective heretical. Yet because of Bede

in Writing the Welsh borderlands in Anglo-Saxon England
Lindy Brady

3 •• The Welsh borderlands in the Lives of St Guthlac1 Chapter Two argued that Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica depicts a mixed Anglo-Welsh culture in the Welsh borderlands in the seventh century. This chapter extends this argument into the eighth century through an examination of the various Latin and Old English Lives of the popular Anglo-Saxon saint, Guthlac of Crowland (d. 715). Guthlac’s Mercian youth and later career as a hermit in the Fens link him indelibly to two of Britain’s most geographically ambiguous spaces, and I argue that the group of AngloSaxon

in Writing the Welsh borderlands in Anglo-Saxon England