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The Anglo-Saxon Period

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The Anglo-Saxon Period. 449-1066. Anglo-Saxon life. Loyalty was key to the survival of your clan. Comitatus Thanes, or warriors, swore loyalty to their king. A king was expected to be generous with gifts of treasure, land, and protection in exchange.

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anglo saxon life
Anglo-Saxon life
  • Loyalty was key to the survival of your clan.
  • Comitatus
  • Thanes, or warriors, swore loyalty to their king.
  • A king was expected to be generous with gifts of treasure, land, and protection in exchange.
  • Life centered around the strength of the leader or chief in every tribe/community.
  • Homes were clustered around the chieftain's hall.
  • A large wall surrounded the group for protection.
  • The communal hall also served as an entertainment hall.
  • The Anglo-Saxon story tellers were called ‘scops.’
  • The tales reflected people’s worries such as war, disease, and famine.
  • They often focused on a hero or heroic deed.
  • Stories provided an escape from their everyday strife.
  • They offered a sign of hope—hope of immortality through the stories.
the celts
The Celts
  • The 1st British settlers
  • The Britons were a sub-group
  • They had a strong belief in wyrd
  • Animism—the belief that everything has a spirit
pa gan pey guhn noun
Pagan [pey-guhn]noun

1. one of a people or community observing polytheistic religion

2. a person who is not a Christian, Jew, or Muslim.

3. an irreligious or hedonistic person

4. a person deemed savage or uncivilized and morally deficient

Synonyms: heathen; gentile; nonbeliever


A time of bloody conflicts, violence, and barbarism

  • War was a norm
  • In the literature, winter prevails; there is rarely humor
  • Bleak existence—the only certainty was death
  • Widespread plague also marked the period
appreciating beauty in anglo saxon culture
Appreciating Beautyin Anglo-Saxon culture

Excavated Objects & Artwork:

ULFBERHT sword & the Sutton Hoo helmet

Language & Literature:

Kennings-a poetic phrase that substitutes for a noun,

often evoking strong imagery and sometimes

employing alliteration

Over 4000 garnets,

were used on objects

from Sutton Hoo—

some of them

in the helmet's eyebrows.

in your groups try to figure out the equivalents of these modern kennings
In your groups, try to figure out the equivalents of these modern kennings


  • Gas guzzler
  • The Dark Knight
  • Muffin top
  • Rug rat
  • Man of Steel
  • Eye Candy
  • Cancer Stick
  • Boob Tube
  • Couch Potato
  • Tramp stamp


  • A car with poor gas mileage
  • Batman
  • Love Handles
  • A mischievous child
  • Superman
  • A person/thing that has visual appeal, but lacks substance
  • Cigarette
  • Television
  • Someone who gets little exercise
  • A provocative tattoo placed “where the sun don’t shine”
in your groups try to figure out these anglo saxon kennings
In your groups, try to figure out these Anglo-Saxon kennings
  • Kennings
  • Sky-candle
  • Swan-road
  • Battle sweat
  • Helmet bearers
  • Dwelling place
  • Storm of swords
  • Equivalents
  • The sun
  • The ocean
  • Blood
  • Warriors
  • Home
  • Battle

1. Can you think of any other modern kennings that you know? If so, share them now.

2. Turn to your partner and tell them one thing you’ve learned so far.

britain the early years roman influence
Britain: The Early Years & Roman Influence
  • Julius Caesar attempted to conquer the Britons in 55 B.C. but failed
  • A century later, Britain became a province of the Roman Empire
  • Romans brought government, roads, and Christianity
  • The Romans withdrew by 410 A.D.
angles saxons
Angles & Saxons
  • Angles and Saxons invade ~ 449 A.D.
  • Britons driven west and north
  • The main part of Britain took on a new name: Angle-land
  • The Anglo-Saxon language became the language known as Old English
  • Augustine (a Roman missionary) creates a monastery at Canterbury in 597 A.D.
  • Center of intellectual, literary, and artistic activity
  • Fostered education and learning
  • Preserved Anglo-Saxon stories on paper (including Beowulf & “The Wanderer”)

Vikings invade in the 790s from Denmark and Norway

  • They take control of the north and east.
  • Vikings plundered monasteries
  • Pagans, who sometimes worshipped their weapons
alfred the great edward the confessor harold the uh harold and william the conqueror
Alfred the Great, Edward the Confessor, Harold the…uh…Harold, and William the Conqueror
  • In the south, Alfred the Great defeats the Vikings in 878
  • Alfred established English as a ‘respected’ language
  • In 1042, Edward the Confessor, a deeply religious descendant of Alfred, takes the throne.
  • He allegedly promises the throne to his cousin William, but an English earl named Harold becomes king.
the norman conquest
The Norman Conquest
  • William led an army from Normandy in the last successful invasion of Britain
  • Harold was killed at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and on Christmas Day, “William the Conqueror” was crowned king of England
  • Ended Anglo-Saxon dominance in England
beowulf is likely composed 750 a d and is set in the 6 th century in scandinavia
Beowulf is likely composed ~750 A.D.and is set in the 6th centuryin Scandinavia

Fun Fact: This manuscript survived a fire in 1731

because it was thrown out of a library window.


Time to hammer in the knowledge you’ve gained.

Turn to one last partner and share something you’ve learned.

  • Anglo-Saxon. 2011. Video. The Open University. Web. 31 Aug 2013.
  • Elements of Literature, Sixth Course: Literature of Britain with World Classics. Holt, Rinehart and Winston: New York, 2000. 2-16.
  • Holt McDougal Literature, Grade 12. Orlando: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012. Print.
  • Huff, Dana. "Beowulf.” Penguin Group, Print.
  • Leneghan, Francis. "Beowulf." Great Writers Inspire. Oxford University. United Kingdom, Oxford. 07 Feb 2012. Lecture.
  • "pagan." Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 31 Aug. 2013. < pagan>.
  • "Sutton Hoo Helmet." BBC- A History of the World. BBC. Web. 31 Aug 2013.
  • The Norman Conquest. 2011. Video. The Open University. Web. 31 Aug 2013.