Anglo-Saxon Paganism: Writing the Non-Christian in Anglo-Saxon England

Module code: EN7229

Module co-ordinator: Dr Philip A Shaw

In this module, we will explore the ways in which Anglo-Saxon authors engaged with the pre-Christian past and consider the evidence for pre-Christian religious life among the Anglo-Saxons. We'll examine the nature of Anglo-Saxon paganism, its relationship to other pagan religious contexts, and the problems associated with interpreting the fragmentary and complex body of evidence. The module attempts to assess the extent to which – and the ways in which – Christian Anglo-Saxon authors constructed an image of their pagan forebears. We'll look at texts by named authors such as Wulfstan and Ælfric, and at anonymous works such as the Old English Martyrology. We will consider these texts as historical and literary documents and address the philological problems raised by studies of Germanic paganisms. Where appropriate, we will also consider the broader archaeological, epigraphic, and historical contexts of these materials.


  • A 4,000-word essay on a topic relating to the course