Basic resources for Anglo-Saxon studies

Obviously it’s essay time, somewhere in the world. I keep getting search hits asking interesting questions like ‘Why did the Anglo-Saxons come to England?’ and ‘What happened to the Anglo-Saxons?’. Someone has a cultural relativity task asking them to compare Anglo-Saxon and Australian customs, and they’re clearly not getting very far with it. Because I am a helpful person, I will provide you with these recommendations:

For a basic introduction to Anglo-Saxon history, you want

* Edward James, Britain in the first millennium
*Frank Stenton, Anglo-Saxon England.

history,academia,snarkThese will both tell you why the Anglo-Saxons came to England and what happened to them once they got there. Stenton is more comprehensive, but James is more modern and easier to follow.

If you want to know about daily life, you might try

*David Wilson, The Anglo-Saxons, a nice little book I just picked up yesterday and so can’t swear for its quality. But it has lots of archaelogical information in it.

You won’t find many decent sources online, so I suggest you stop looking. The first chapter of Peter Baker’s Electronic Introduction to Old English is the only secondary source I can recommend, and it won’t have enough information in it to help you write a whole essay.1

For primary sources, there’s an old translation of The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle online, and same for Asser’s Life of King Alfred. If you want to know ‘what happened to the Anglo-Saxons’ or why they came to England, try looking at these and finding out what *they* thought was happening to them.

Good luck!


1. No, I am not a source. Blogs are not sources. Nothing hosted on WordPress, Blogger, Blogspot or Livejournal can be used in an essay. Consider this a friendly warning from a senior student, before your marker strangles you for poor research.
You can’t use blogs because they’re not peer reviewed research. If that doesn’t make sense to you, or you want some advice on how to find reliable resources online, and how to cite them when you find them, I have a post on that here.


10 Responses to “Basic resources for Anglo-Saxon studies”

  1. goblinpaladin Says:

    See, in all the medieval blogosphere, this is the first post for something like this I have ever seen. Good job, Miss Eccentric.

  2. highlyeccentric Says:

    I am clearly too nice for my own good. *halo*

  3. Bo Says:

    Someone wouldn’t list a blog in a source…..would they?!!!

  4. highlyeccentric Says:

    You’d be surprised…

    For one thing, if it’s a high school rather than a uni class, the student may not have access to any other resources. I relied a lot on geocities in high school, our local and school libraries both being poorly equipped in the ancient history department.

    Once you get to uni, though, it takes a while to learn how to tell what internet resources are ‘scholarly’ and which aren’t. I much prefer libraries, so I never *tried* researching via google, but the instructions I was given for citing internet sources included things like ‘it’s best if you can tell who the author is’ and ‘try to use websites written by scholars’. Well, I know who Richard Nokes is and he’s a scholar. The whole concept of ‘peer review’ was never explained- it was just something I picked up along the way.

    Actually, I think I’ll edit my footnote to explain the ‘peer review’ concept.

  5. daiskmeliadorn Says:

    DUDE! i’ve been reading caroline walker bynum and i want to live in the middle ages! and use the threat of fasting to manipulate my family, friends and priest! it all sounds so awesome!

    p.s. having read your post about the difference between ‘medieval’ and ‘middle ages’ i feel much more confident quoting people like bynum*. thank you! ๐Ÿ˜€

    p.p.s. i wrote this comment yesterday but forgot to post it, but it seems apt to put it on this post in which you continue to be all edumacashonal and that.

    *i was never quite sure what period i was talking about, using either term. even though i made you explain it to me a couple of times before. seeing things written down is so much better for me remembering them.

  6. highlyeccentric Says:

    DUDE I like my running water, immunisations, and ineffectual but non-oppressive church, thank you! No living in the Middle Ages for *me*.

    So much more fun can be had by studying them. Oh, so much fun. You should join usssss. Lots of Patriarchy to be blamed, in the Middle Ages!

  7. zcat_abroad Says:

    Another thing to add is Joseph Cambell’s “The Anglo-Saxons”, a big coffee-table type book, with lots of beautiful photos of places and artifacts. And very nicely informed articles.

  8. kayloulee Says:

    Better add that Wikipedia is not a credible academic source ever, ever, ever. Even if you do take the hyperlinks out (I swear, in my high school music classroom, there was a project on the wall that was copied directly from Wiki with the links left in!).

  9. daiskmeliadorn Says:

    yeah, i am totes tempted to join youuuuuuuuuuuuuuu, except for the whole Having To Learn Languages thing, which would be cool, but which i would be uber-behind on. they do sound fun to study though! i should really hit some pre-1940 history though sometime… hehe

    oh hey that reminds me ๐Ÿ™‚ today my housemate and his girlfriend were playing around on the anglo-saxon translation of wikipedia (can you quote *that* in essays? ๐Ÿ™‚ and found some random article which was on something involving the word ‘rim’, which they decided had to be about sex; they pretend-translated half the article to this effect; then switched it to english language and it turns out it was about pythagoras’ theorem or something equally… asexual.

  10. highlyeccentric Says:

    Anglo-Saxons don’t have much in the way of words for sex… They like euphemisms and metaphors. My personal favourite is ‘had enjoyment of his husband-ship’.

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