Category Archives: Uncategorized


Dr. George Walkden, of the University of Manchester, claims that the opening line of the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf has been misinterpreted since its first publication in 1815. His claim, based on the position of the word hwæt relative to its verb in 141 other clauses, suggests that the line “Hwæt! We Gar-Dena in gear-dagum, þeod-cyninga,  þrym gefrunon, hu ða æþelingas  ellen fremedon!” should be read as: “How we have heard of the might of the kings” rather than the traditional interpretation: “Listen! We have heard of the might of the kings.”

Opening word of Beowulf

Opening word of Beowulf

The difference may seem minor, but Dr. Walkden argues that it completely changes the tone of the poem. Whereas “Listen!” implies that there’s a reason to call an unruly audience to attention, the less exclamatory interpretation implies that the audience is more willing to hear the story. It is unclear whether this latest interpretation will be used in future translations. The original interpretation is more evocative of dark and heavy wooden meeting halls, packed with warrior thegns and long tables of food and drink.

  1. Listen! Beowulf opening line misinterpreted for 200 years“, The Independent, 05 Nov 2013

Ring of Escrick

This ring was unearthed in 2009 by a metal detectorist in Escrick, Yorkshire. Though originally believed to be much later, the ring is now believed to have been made in the 5th to 6th centuries. A workshop in York suggested that the ring had continental origins and probably belonged to a king or royal consort.

escrick ring

The ring is composed of gold, glass, and sapphire. It was purchased for £35,000 by the Yorkshire Museum. The main part of the ring may have belonged to a brooch or other ornament before being mounted to the hoop. It is possible that the sapphire has Roman origins and that the mount was created much later. Further investigation of the ring is planned.

  1. Escrick sapphire ring’s mystery history sparks meeting“, BBC News, 25 Jan 2013
  2. Escrick sapphire ring’s mystery history sparks meeting“, Archaelogical News, 29 Jan 2013
  3. The Ring is Royal?“, Yorkshire Museum, 20 Mar 2013