(HIST034) Before the Normans Came: The Society and Culture of Anglo-Saxon England

detail of the bayeux tapestry - two knights on horseback fighting

Overview

Course start date to be confirmed

Tutor: Mark Cottle
Course Code: HIST034
Level: Non-accredited, non-credit bearing
Assessments/Exams: None. Throughout the course you will be given ideas and questions to respond to in the online discussion area. Participation in online discussion is encouraged, but not compulsory.
Duration: 10 weeks
Dates: To be confirmed
Estimated Student Study Time: 2 – 3 hours per week are recommended, but time spent is flexible and at your discretion.
Fee: £150.00
Pre-Requisites: No academic qualifications nor experience are required – you will simply need an enthusiasm for this subject.
Delivery: Online Distance Learning
Late Entrants: If this course is not full by the start date then late entrants will be accepted for up to two weeks after the start of the course. As a late entrant you can choose to catch up on the material you have missed or you can skip the missed weeks and concentrate on the material at the point where you join the course, but unfortunately we cannot offer fee reductions or course extensions for late entrants.
Recommended Reading**:

Preparatory study is not expected. A recommended reading list is provided within the course.

Required Reading**: None

**Please note: All courses are subject to sufficient numbers of students registering before they are confirmed as running. Therefore, after booking your place you are advised not to purchase any texts until you have received confirmation that the course is running.

 

Syllabus Plan

Week 1: Introduction and overview. Sources and settlement
Week 2: Archaeology: Sutton Hoo and the Staffordshire Hoard
Week 3: Conversion to Christianity, Roman and Celtic Missions
Week 4: The Golden Age of Northumbria
Week 5: The Ascendancy of Mercia: The Age of Offa
Week 6: The Viking impact. Wessex under Alfred the Great
Week 7: The Rise of Wessex from Edward to Edgar
Week 8: Æthelraed ‘the Unready’ and King Canute
Week 9: Beowulf and Anglo-Saxon Poetry
Week 10: William of Normandy, Harold Godwinson and the Bayeux Tapestry

Course Content in Depth

Week One: Introduction and overview.  Sources and settlement

Brief summary of the period.  The main sources (e.g. Tacitus, Gildas, Bede, A.s. Chronicle) and the debated nature of the post-Roman settlement.

Week Two: Archaeology: Sutton Hoo and the Staffordshire Hoard

Case studies in the two major excavations to date with reference to others (e.g. the Prittlewell Prince grave) – insights and questions.

Week Three: Conversion to Christianity, Roman and Celtic Missions

Evidence of Christianity in Roman Britain.  Anglo Saxon paganism and the nature and achievements of the Roman and Irish Missions.

Week Four: The Golden Age of Northumbria

The growth of Northumbria under powerful Kings (Æthelfrith to Aldhelm), the role of the church and the monasteries and the resulting renaissance with reference to Bede, Wilfrid of York, Hilda of Whitby, the Lindisfarne Gospels.

Week Five: The Ascendancy of Mercia: The Age of Offa

Source problems of Mercia.  The period from Penda to Offa and Offa’s legacy.

Week Six: The Viking impact.  Wessex under Alfred the Great

Viking raids, invasion and settlement.  The nature and policies of Alfred’s Kingship.

Week Seven: The Rise of Wessex from Edward to Edgar

Edward, Æthelflæd and Athelstan all building on Alfred’s legacy to conquer the Danelaw.  Edgar’s reforms – laws, carnage and the monasteries.

Week Eight: Æthelraed ‘the Unready’ and King Canute

Case studies in failure and success: failure of Kingship under Æthelraed and recovery with a form of Baltic imperium under Canute.

Week Nine: Beowulf and Anglo-Saxon Poetry

A study of Beowulf as an epic in its own time but also in relation to the Anglo-Saxon society.  A selective summary of other poetry, including the Dream of the Rood, the Battle of Maldon, the Elegies, Riddles etc.

Week Ten: William of Normandy, Harold Godwinson and the Bayeux Tapestry

The leading figures and events leading to the Battle of Hastings.  A study of the Bayeux Tapestry.  Reference to continuity and change after 1066.