Beowulf is an Old English heroic epic poem of anonymous authorship from around AD 700. Its creation is typically assigned by scholars either to the period AD 700–750, or to the time of composition of the only manuscript, circa 1010. At 3183 lines, it is notable for its length. The poem is untitled in the manuscript, but has been known as Beowulf since the early 19th century. As the single major surviving work of Anglo-Saxon heroic poetry, the work—in spite of dealing primarily with Danish and Swedish events—has risen to such prominence that it has been described as "England's national epic." A source of much study, the poem was a central inspiration for J.R.R. Tolkien, whose academic career was built around its analysis and explication.
In the poem, Beowulf, a hero of the Geats, battles three antagonists: Grendel, who is attacking the Danish mead hall called Heorot and its inhabitants; Grendel's mother; and, later in life after returning to Geatland (modern southern Sweden) and becoming a king, an unnamed dragon. He is mortally wounded in the final battle, and after his death he is buried in a barrow in Geatland by his retainers.