Beowulf and the Anglo Saxons

Beowulf and the
Anglo Saxons
It’s An Island!
• The sea is really important to British culture as well
as the idea of sea power. (Navy, Trade)
• Really temperate climate
• England itself is the best farm land.
• England is isolated from mainland Europe.
• British history is the history of a
series of invasions from
mainland Europe. Each
successive wave brought
advancement in technology and
Neolithic People
We know relatively little
about the Stone Age
inhabitants of Britain.
Stone Age people means
that they used mostly
stone tools, had some
farming, and lived in small
settlements. One of the
big mysteries is
Stonehenge. What is it
for? (astronomical clock?
Showing off prominence?
They got bored? )
The Celts
• 7th Century BCE
• Came from mainland
• Brought iron weapons and
• Celt is a language group that
covers many different tribes
• Later, were pushed into
Ireland, Scotland, and Wales
by the Anglo-Saxons
The Romans
• 50BCE to 400CE
• Built roads, towns,
and more.
• Mostly, only the rich
adopted Roman
• The Celts became
But then Rome fell…
• The Celts went back
to acting like Celts.
• Everybody else in
Europe went back
to pillaging and
• 400-ish CE
In come the Anglo-Saxons!
• 450-ish CE
• Came from Germany, Denmark-ish
• First they came as pirates, then
mercenaries, then colonists.
• King Vortigen, a Celt, hired them to
protect him from other warring Celtic
kingdoms, but instead they took over.
England= Angle-land
• This is the start of
England as we know
• This is the start of
English as a language.
The Angles brought a
version of early
German with them,
what we call Old
Anglo-Saxon England
• The Angles established various kingdoms and
became Christian.
• The first united English king isn’t until 900’s.
• They pushed the Celts into Scotland, Ireland, Wales
• They also had to deal with the new invaders,
Vikings from Scandinavia!
Anglo-Saxon Culture
• Warriors were heavily
• “Kings” ruled small
communities and ruled over
warriors (Thanes). They
gave gifts to earn loyalty.
• The next king was not the
old king’s son He was the
coolest warrior and agreed
upon by the people.
Anglo-Saxon Culture
• Non-warriors were
roughly equal and
worked together to
farm, craft, cook.
• Center of village is
Meadhall, where
everyone eats and
hangs out.
Stages of the English Language
• Old English- Pretty Much German- 4501066ish
• Middle English- Add In Some French- 10661500ish
• Early Modern- Shakespeare’s English 1500ish
to 1800ish
• Modern- What We Speak- 1800ish to now
Beowulf Lit Terms
• Epic: long story (narrative) poem about a hero
• Verse: Poetry, in lines and stanzas
• Kenning: two(ish)-word renaming of
something (boob tube, idiot box, cancer stick)
• Caesura: stopping punctuation in the middle
of a line, a period or big dash!
• Alliteration: two or more words in a row that
start with the same letter or sound
• Theme: The main ideas of a literary work, not
just the plot

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