Representing Beasts in Early Medieval England and Scandinavia

Essays on the depiction of animals, birds and insects in early medieval material culture, from texts to carvings to the landscape itself.
Date Published :
February 2019
Publisher :
Boydell and Brewer
Editor :
Michael D.J. Bintley, Thomas J.T. Williams
Series :
Anglo-Saxon Studies
Illustration :
27 black and white, 11 line drawing
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding : Paperback
ISBN : 9781783273690
Pages : 312
Dimensions : 9.25 X 6.25 inches
Stock Status : Available


For people in the early Middle Ages, the earth, air, water and ether teemed with other beings. Some of these were sentient creatures that swam, flew, slithered or stalked through the same environments inhabited by their human contemporaries. Others were objects that a modern beholder would be unlikely to think of as living things, but could yet be considered to possess a vitality that rendered them potent. Still others were things half glimpsed on a dark night or seen only in the mind's eye; strange beasts that haunted dreams and visions or inhabited exotic lands beyond the compass of everyday knowledge.
This book discusses the various ways in which the early English and Scandinavians thought about and represented these other inhabitants of their world, and considers the multi-faceted nature of the relationship between people and beasts. Drawing on the evidence of material culture, art, language, literature, place-names and landscapes, the studies presented here reveal a world where the boundaries between humans, animals, monsters and objects were blurred and often permeable, and where to represent the bestial could be to hold a mirror to the self.

MICHAEL D.J. BINTLEY is Lecturer in Early Medieval Literature and Culture at Birkbeck, University of London; THOMAS WILLIAMS is a former curator of Early Medieval Coins at the British Museum.

Contributors: Nol Adams, John Baker, Michael D. J. Bintley, Sue Brunning, Lszl Sndor Chardonnens, Della Hooke, Eric Lacey, Richard North, Marijane Osborn, Victoria Symons, Thomas J. Williams

About The Author

Senior Lecturer in Medieval Literature, Canterbury Christ Church University


Between Myth and Reality: Hunter and Prey in Early Anglo-Saxon Art - Nol Adams
'(Swinger of) the Serpent of Wounds': Swords and Snakes in the Viking Mind - Sue Brunning
Wreoenhilt ond wyrmfah: Confronting Serpents in Beowulf and Beyond - Victoria Symons
The Ravens on the Lejre Throne: Avian Identifiers, Odin at Home, Farm Ravens - Marijane Osborn
Beowulf's Blithe-Hearted Raven - Eric Lacey
Do Anglo-Saxons Dream of Exotic Sheep? - Lszl Sndor Chardonnens
You Sexy Beast: The Pig in a Villa in Vandalic North Africa and Boar-Cults in Old Germanic Heathendom - Richard North
'For the Sake of Bravado in the Wilderness': Confronting the Bestial in Anglo-Saxon Warfare - Thomas J.T. Williams
Where the Wild Things Are in Old English Poetry - Michael D.J. Bintley
Entomological Etymologies: Creepy-Crawlies in English Place-Names - John Baker
Beasts, Birds and Other Creatures in Pre-Conquest Charters and Place-Names in England - Della Hooke

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