HST204: Warriors, Saints and Heroes in Early Medieval Britain

20 credits (semester 1)

Module Leader: Dr Máirín MacCarron


Pass in at least two of the Level One modules offered by the Department of History.


Module Summary

This module explores patterns of power in early medieval Britain from the withdrawal of Roman authority in the fifth century through to the incursions of the Vikings in the ninth. We will focus on Anglo-Saxon England, though Wales and Scotland will also come into consideration. Central themes include the problem of where the Anglo-Saxons came from, the relations between independent Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, the role of the Church in reshaping ideas of royal power, the nature of heroic warrior culture, Anglo-Saxons’ sense of their place in the wider world, and the changing distributions of power in their own society. We will explore a range of sources, ranging from archaeological excavations and coins to poetry, travel-writing and historical chronicles.


Teaching and Assessment

  Lectures Seminars
1 The collapse of Roman Britain King Arthur: fact and (mostly) fiction
2 Wolves into the fold: Angles and Saxons (and Jutes) Anglo-Saxon apartheid?
3 The origins of early English kingdoms Ban the Bretwalda!
4 The Conversion of the English Paganism and pastoral care
5 Celtic Connections The Synod of Whitby, 664
6 Dalriada and the Picts The Problem of the Picts
7 The Golden Age of Northumbria Bede's World
8 Wider Horizons An Englishman in Jerusalem
9 The Mercian Supremacy Markets and merchants (and Marx)
10 Beowulf Legendary heroes
11 An heroic age: beginnings and ends Heroes, saints and warriors

Further guidance is provided in the module course booklet, available through MOLE.

Information on assessment can be found at: http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/history/current_students/undergraduate/assessment/level2


Selected Reading

  • J Campbell, (ed.) The Anglo-Saxons (1982, republished Penguin, 1991; with pictures)
  • Beowulf: a verse translation : authoritative text, contexts, criticism, edited by Daniel Donoghue, translated by Seamus Heaney (London and New York, 2002)
  • Thomas Charles-Edwards, After Rome, c. 400-c800: Short Oxford History of the British Isles (Oxford, 2004)
  • Robin Fleming, Britain after Rome: the fall and rise, 400-1070 (London, 2011)
  • Edward James, Britain in the First Millennium (London, 2001)


Intended Learning Outcomes
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