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Saturday, 8 February 2014

The Anglo-Saxon Sword Riddles

The Anglo-Saxon Sword Riddles

Anglo-Saxon swords were not merely death-dealing weapons, ‘wigena weorðmynd’ (“joy of warriors” (Beowulf 1559) but potent symbols of leadership, social status and ancestral lineage. Oaths of fealty and maybe even marriage vows were sworn on the sword, probably to invoke the power of the sword-god Tiw, who protected the sanctity of oaths.

The 10th Century Exeter Book contains numerous Anglo-Saxon Riddles; two of which clearly have a sword as the solution. In her seminal book on the Anglo-Saxon sword, HR Ellis Davidson discusses the sword-riddles in some detail. In light of new discoveries; particularly that of the Staffordshire Hoard, the Sword Riddles are well worth re-examining.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Wyrmfang 2/2

'Wymfang' - Chapter 2; A princely sheath for a princely Seax

In 2013 we attempted to faithfully reconstruct the second seax of the Staffordshire Hoard (see previous chapter here); a smaller but arguably richer weapon, featuring five pieces bearing garnet cloisonné on its hilt. This item had been long in the planning, ever since the Staffordshire Hoard conservation team announced the connection between the five splendid components which made up the hilt, and the reconstruction took place mainly during the spring of 2013. As always with such projects though, work was not over once the weapon was complete, as a sheath was still to be made, which would properly protect the blade and complement its haft.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

New Website

While the blog (www.thethegns.blogspot.com) has served us well over the years it has become increasingly apparent that a more professional, more easily navigated site is needed to advertise the living history group. We have therefore built a new website for the Thegns of Mercia; www.thegns.org with much new content. The blog will be gradually adapted to blend seamlessly with this new site, and will continue to be used for articles and discussions, while information about the living history group, our reconstructive archaeology work, and short discussions of recent projects will be placed on the new site. s of recent projects will be placed on the new site.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Wyrd / Fate

Modern statues of the Nornir at Ribe, Dk.
Wyrd

 The concept of an all-powerful Fate or Destiny is fundamental, not only to the Anglo-Saxon world view but of Indo-European philosophy generally.
The word ‘wyrd’ occurs no less than nine times in Beowulf, where it is used to denote ‘omnipotent fate or destiny’, and its use reveals much about Anglo-Saxon beliefs. The Anglo-Saxon understanding of 'wyrd', and the related but subtly different Norse equivalent is worth discussing.