Anglo-Saxon Unit Assignments & Review Sheet


I.    Read the introduction to the unit, pp. 1 – 7.  In your notebooks, answer the following questions.  Allow room between your answers for additions & corrections.

    1.    Trace the appearance, characteristics, & influence of the invaders who shaped early British culture.  [Listed below are key dates & terms; use these to gather notes.]
        A)    2000 BC: Iberian Peninsula / Stonehenge
        B)    600 BC: Celts / bronze & iron / druids
        C)    55 BC: Romans / Julius Caesar / 1st recorded history
        D)    43 AD: Claudius / Hadrian’s Wall / Wales & Scotland / roads, baths, etc.
        E)    410 AD: German barbarians / Latin to Celtic
                441 AD: Angles, Jutes, Saxons / Arthur
        F)    6th century: Angles / Beowulf
        G)   intermittent, then regular after 835: Vikings
    2.    Closely read the account of Anglo-Saxon society.  Note meaning of tribal society / thane / A-S values / mead hall / scop / bretwalda
    3.    Discuss the emerging role of Christianity, including the timing and contributions of St. Patrick and St. Augustine.  How did Christianity affect developing British culture and values?
    4.    The events of this period coincided with what significant events elsewhere in the world?
    5.    What British king most successfully opposed the Vikings?  Describe the military strategy he used.  List his accomplishments as a ruler.  What was the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle?
    6.    When and what ended the struggle over the land division that resulted from the A-S and Scandinavian conflict?

II.    Learn about Beowulf, the first masterpiece in British literature.  See pp. 39-60.
        A.    Learn and apply the epic notes provided in class.
        B.    You are responsible for the following specific segments of these pages:
            1.    Read pages 4,8, &12 Take notes on:
                    the function of an epic poem in early civilization / the hero, pageantry, & style of the epic poem: specific qualities will be echoed in epic notes / the use of parallelism, symbolism, and epithets in Beowulf / historical basis for story of Beowulf / oral literature / theories about Christian influence / use of language    
            2.    Read pages 39-42.  Always be attentive to headnotes and footnotes that accompany literature.  Note that the work has a translator rather than an author; be attentive to class notes regarding this.  Read the poem up through line 162.  You are                                 responsible for the text and footnotes #1,2,6,7,8,9; editors’ notes pp. 12&13.  Be able to find / recognize examples of kenning                     / alliteration (explained on p. 15).
            3.    I encourage you to read as much of the poem as you wish; to “taste” the original; the following additional segments are assigned:  pp. 16 – 18, lines 238 – 382 and pp. 20 – 23, lines 481 – 727.  
After reading theses passages, answer in your notebook the following questions from “Think & Discuss” on p. 25: #2,3,4,6.
            4.    Read and take notes on these explanations
                            * about translating Beowulf, on pp. 26-27;
                            * heroic mortality, p. 39;
                            * Sutton Hoo, pp. 42-43.


III.    Learn about poems from The Exeter Book, see pages 50 – 57
    1.    Read p. 50.  What is The Exeter Book?  What kind of poetry does it contain?  How did it get its name?
    2.    See p. 53 – “Applying Elegy.”  Define elegy.  Explain why this poem type is considered typically Anglo-Saxon.
    3.    Read the material following the heading “Anglo-Saxon Riddles.”
        A.    The headnote is important.  Define riddle.  Note editors’ explanation of why riddles connect easily to what we know of Anglo-Saxon life.  Complete the blanks in the statement, which summarizes the impact of each poem type in the unit: Beowulf reveals (x); elegies share (y); riddles show (z).

        B.    Read each of the riddles.  For each one, prepare a list of phrases or lines that could be used as a clue to solving the riddle.  In addition, answer the following questions from pp. 56-57:
•    for riddle #5, answer quest.#3;
•    for riddle #16, answer quest.#2;
•    for riddle #21, answer quest.#2;
•    for riddle #47, answer quest.#1;
•    for riddle #68, answer quest.#2;
•    for riddle #80, answer quest.#3.

IV.    Closing the unit
    1.    Read p. 58: “Themes in English Literature.” State the theme discussed in the essay.  *Note the use of quotes and evidence used to support ideas. Think about whether you agree or disagree that twenty-first century readers may find such an attitude “surprising.”  Be ready to explain your position with examples.
    2.    Read p. 59: Bede’s Biography.  What is Jarrow?  Why is it significant?  What is The Ecclesiastical History of the English People?  Why is it important?  Why is it considered an “authentic” source?  In what language was it written?  When was it translated?  Into what language?  By whom?
    3.    Read pp. 69 – 70: “The Changing English Language.”                                                                 
This two-page essay summarizes various influences on the language.  Briefly review the history of the period while reading of how each culture shaped what would ultimately become English.  What contributions were made by Latin? By Scandinavian?  What words are considered to be Anglo-Saxon?  In what form of the language was Beowulf written?


I.    Review years of period; know title, author, genre, main idea, literary devices, historical relevancy for every work covered in class.
II.    Know who or what + when and why important:
St. Patrick                            Sutton Hoo                        alliteration
St. Bede                               Stonehenge                       kenning
St. Augustine                       Jarrow                               elegy
Celtic                                   oral literature

Beowulf                               Geat                                  epic hero
Book of Kells                        Old English                        literary convention
Ecclesiastical History           mead-hall                          translator
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle         hart                                   folk epic
Exeter Book                        scop                                   riddle
King Arthur                         Alfred the Great                legacy
Scyld                                   Hrothgar                            genre
Grendel                              Charles W. Kennedy           lyric poetry
Hygelac                                thane                               narrative poetry
Iona                                    Canterbury                        druid

Jenn Perino,
Dec 11, 2013, 8:01 AM