There are two versions of this session depending on whether or not a male performer is available. In either case I shall be attending in Pagan Anglo-Saxon costume and reading my own alliterative translation of the part of the Beowulf epic where he meets, defeats and is killed by the dragon. My version follows closely the original Old English text, which was written down some time between the 7th to 11th century (takes approx. 20 minutes). Beowulf himself is believed to be a 6th century prince! There is a possible connection between the story of Beowulf and King Raedwald - allegedly buried at Sutton Hoo.
The session starts with us listening to a recorded rendition of The Funeral of Scyld Scefing taken from Beowulf, in the original Old English and accompanied by the lyre (3 minutes).
A): If a male is not available:
Before the reading, we will look at the weapons and armour mentioned in the text. Some of the Old English words for these are kept as they are more descriptive.
Afterwards, the children can see what Beowulf may have looked like by examining photographs of 'Raedwald' (who is seen regularly at Sutton Hoo and parts of whose costume I made) and the Sutton Hoo treasure.
B): If a male is available:
A warrior from Beowulf's troop will show the children his weapons and armour and allow them to handle or try on certain pieces. He will enact parts of the reading that are appropriate.
Finally, the mead-horn is passed around for brave volunteers to try a drink of non-alcoholic mead.
Questions answered: What does the Old English language sound like? Why was story-telling important? How are Raedwald and Beowulf connected?
*Teachers resource pack available - 6 pages for an additional £2.00 (see resources page for details)