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20 August 2013

The background behind the Anglo Saxon poem Beowulf has just been brought to life by excavations in Denmark – BBC History magazine Sept 2013 (see www.historyextra.com). The royal centre of the Danish was at Lejre from the 6th to the 10th centuries AD. A great feasting hall has been discovered – in fact, seven rebuilds, a succession of buidlings over 500 years. The earliest was pehaps Heoret of the poem, where warriors loyal to Hrothgar spent their leisure hours. The noise of revelry, it is said, provoked the monster known as the Grendel, a huge serpent that spanned the vault of the heavens, to wreak havoc on the world. The story seems to have been brought to England by the Angles, a Danish tribe, in the 5th or 6th centuries. Lejre was inhabited for at least 500 years from AD500-1000 but excavations are continuing. This implies the Grendel and Beowulf clash is dated at the same time as the AD538-45 low growth tree event. Does the poem preserve a clue to what might have happened at that time?

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