Welcome to the discussion forum of Ða Engliscan Gesiðas for all matters relating to the history, language and culture of Anglo-Saxon England. I hope it will provide a useful source of information, stimulate research, and be of real help. Ða Engliscan Gesiðas (The English Companions) maintains a strictly neutral line on all modern and current political and religious matters and it does not follow any particular interpretation of history. Transgression of this Rule will not be tolerated. Any posts which are perceived as breaking this Rule will be deleted with immediate effect without explanation.

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General Discussion / Re: Short and sweet - ideas for "icebreakers"
« Last post by Bowerthane on January 19, 2021, 10:06:18 AM »
’Ere, how’s this for downright eerie? I happen to be reading W. J. R. Gardner’s Decoding History: The Battle of the Atlantic and Ultra too and, it says here, “it is now fairly common to refer to the output itself by the name of Ultra... However, it is important to note that there were other terms in use such as ‘Z’, ‘Special Intelligence (SI)’ and ‘Boniface’.”

Why does this remind me of an old Dave Allen sketch where God tosses a coin to settle which combattant’s prayers to answer?  Has St Boniface had that problem?

( Or did somebody in the Bletchley Park/ MI6/ IGS loop... know? As if St Boniface were the longest-run mole or Deepest Throat of all time.  To whom the Germans transmitted their prayers innocently thinking it was all in Godes privitie, never suspecting that he was passing the sigint ‘product’ on to the Old Country..?)

( Any more Anglo-Saxon connections to Bletchley Park, we may wonder? The etymology seems to be “Bleccas LĒAH” if the earliest surviving recorded form, Blechelai in AD 1106-9 is anything to go by, and it’s bang on Watling Street and therefore the Treaty Line King Alfred negotiated with King Guthrum at Wedmore.  There’s certainly an Old English church of some heft surviving at Wing, about ten miles south of it: All Saints with an “Aisled nave; and apsidal chancel, with crypt beneath”.  Oh, and, as a teenage jobseeker in the 1980s, a certain budding Anglo-Saxonist slept rough under a hedge near a roundabout outside Milton Keynes about five miles to the north.  So I may have passed through Bletchley, a former Wrennery or two and even Shenley where Alan Turing was billeted in the pub thumbing my way into Oxford, before or after a Chemistry undergraduate picked me up in his slick, red sports car, who liberated me from one of life’s great mysteries by explaining how valency worked on the way in.)

General Discussion / Re: What's Everyone Reading?
« Last post by Bowerthane on January 19, 2021, 10:01:52 AM »
Thanks Phyllis, that’s ever so interesting ( and convenient!).  And how’s this for ::)  irony?  I’m also reading Hannah Crawforth’s Etymology and the Invention of English in Early Modern Literature ( 2013 CUP, ISBN 978-1-107-04176-9) and guess what she went and said the other night:

“In 1571 Parker’s scholars had published The Gospels of the Fower Euangelistes Translated in the Olde Saxons Tyme out of Latin into the Vulgare Toung of the Saxons, an attempt to show an Old English precedent for vernacular Bible translation. Foxe’s preface to the work denounces those who argue against a vernacular Bible as doing so ‘contrary… to the euidence of Antiquitie’. He cites translations by Bede, Saint Cuthbert and the Saxon King Alfred as precedent for the reformers’ project to make the Gospels readily available in English: ‘if any shall doubt of the auncient vsage therof, whether they had the Scriptures in their language of old time, here he may haue a proofe of so much translated into our old Englishe tounge’.” 

It never rains but it pours...

News & Events / Reconstructing the helmet from the Staffordshire Hoard
« Last post by Phyllis on January 19, 2021, 09:30:43 AM »
Free Eventbrite online talk this Thursday:


A digital talk by Chris Fern, Staffordshire Hoard Project
About this Event

The reconstructed helmet from the Anglo-Saxon hoard from Staffordshire is already an iconic image. It is only the sixth from the British Isles to have been found from the early medieval period of the 5th to 8th centuries and based on its rich materials and ornament it was an object ‘fit for a king’. The lecture will describe all the surviving parts of the helmet and how they were brought together to form the reconstruction, it will consider the meaning of its decoration, and ultimately will explore the place of the helmet and the Staffordshire Hoard in the historical context of the kingdom wars of 7th-century England.

Chris was one of the lead researchers for the Staffordshire Hoard Project and co-author of the recent magnificent publication. He is a heritage consultant and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of York.

The talk will be delivered via Zoom. The talk is FREE but booking is essential. Tickets are available until 5.30pm on the evening of the talk. A link will be sent to attendees on the day of the talk.
General Discussion / Understanding the compilation of Domesday
« Last post by Phyllis on January 16, 2021, 11:36:53 AM »
A recent study provides a new interpretation of how the Normans manipulated the power of the ENglish state to create the Domesday Book

General Discussion / OTD 13th January 858 AD: Death of King Æðelwulf of Wessex
« Last post by Phyllis on January 16, 2021, 11:32:01 AM »
Continuing my series of posts from the Companions' Facebook page, here is the most popular post from the past week commemorating the death of King Æþelwulf of Wessex in 858 AD. Here is the post:

King Æþelwulf of Wessex died on 13th January 858 AD. He was Alfred's father, and had taken his son to Rome as a small boy.

He was succeeded by four of his sons in turn, each dying without adult sons of their own to take the throne, until finally his youngest boy became king.

Æþelwulf was the son of Ecgberht, King of Wessex and he came to the throne, and descended from Ine’s brother. His mother Redburga was a Frankish princess who may have been an illegitimate daughter of Charlemagne, and Æþelwulf was born in the early 800s, possibly while Ecgberht was still in exile in Frankia.

He ruled as sub-king in Kent from 825 AD and succeeded his father in Wessex in 839 AD. He married Osburh, daughter of Oslac, a Hampshire ealdormann, and she may have been his second wife. This is suggested based on the age range of Æþelwulf’s sons.

Æþelwulf was the first West Saxon king to succeed his father for over 100 years, providing much needed stability However, he was less aggressive than his father had been and preferred to make alliances in most cases. This did not prevent him from annexing part of Berkshire in the 840s however. He married his daughter Æþelswið to the Mercian King Burghred in 853 AD and the allies attacked Powys driving out King Cyngen. In this year he also sent four year old Alfred to Rome where he met the Pope and later claimed he was consecrated by him as King.

More urgently Æþelwulf faced increasing Scandinavian raids. An attack on Southampton in 840 AD was driven off, but his men lost a fight at Portland in the same year and Æþelwulf lost a battle at Carhampton in 843 Ad. His men drove off a fleet at the mouth of the River Parrett in 848 AD and his son Æþelstan, sub-king in Kent, defeated another fleet at Sandwich using a navy. However the Vikings over-wintered at Sheppey in 851 AD and a large force moved in to attack London which was part of Mercia. Æþelwulf and his son Æþelbald defeated the host at Aclea, where according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle they

“made the greatest slaughter among the heathen army that we have heard reported to the present day, and there got the victory.”

In 855 AD Æþelwulf went to Rome with Alfred, presumably feeling the kingdom was safe to leave for a while; this proved ill advised. He dedicated a tenth of his lands to God and the Church and this may have upset his nobles who then supported Æþelbald in rebellion.

He married again on his way back from Rome, cementing the family relationship with Charles the Bald, king of the Franks by marrying his teenage daughter Judith on 1st October 856 AD. This was almost certainly a strategic alliance to support a military agreement. However, it also raised the possibility of more children to contest the throne, and when Æþelwulf gave Judith the title of queen (not used in Wessex) this may have made the possibility more real.

Æþelbald rose in rebellion, supported by some key figures among the nobility as well as the Bishop of Sherborne. Æþelwulf was unable to gather enough support to win his throne back and had to reach a compromise with his son, accepting the smaller kingdom of Kent for his rule and leaving Wessex to Æþelbald.

He died at Steyning in West Sussex on 13th January 858 AD, and was buried there. Alfred later had him reburied at Winchester. His reputation has not always been very positive, coming between Ecgberht who established the Wessex hegemony, and Alfred. However, his achievements were significant. He withstood the Viking attacks in 851 AD, created a viable fleet and no doubt inspired his successors to achieve and retain the independence of the last kingdom to stand against the invading Vikings.

General Discussion / Re: Back issues
« Last post by Sigurd on January 14, 2021, 09:27:55 AM »
Thank you.
General Discussion / Re: Back issues
« Last post by David on January 13, 2021, 08:38:38 PM »
You can buy a flash drive with all the magazine issues for £20 from Ian Geary.
General Discussion / Back issues
« Last post by Sigurd on January 13, 2021, 08:30:23 PM »
Hi, can someone tell me how I can get hold of the back issues of bindweed?
General Discussion / Re: large Anglo-Saxon cemetery uncovered in Northamptonshire
« Last post by Eanflaed on January 12, 2021, 11:43:38 PM »
That looks amazing - hope we get more details soon.
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