Ellen Lloyd – AncientPages.com – Have we misunderstood the contents of the famous epic poem Beowulf?
According to one professor who spent eight years studying the poem, Beowulf is much older than previously thought and it was not written in England, but Scandinavia.
Today, most say that “Beowulf is among the greatest heroes of the English-speaking people and his story has been known for generations.
Image credit: SVT
The hero and his battles are described in one of the most important works of Old English literature, ‘Beowulf’, an Old English epic poem of over 3,000 lines, written by an anonymous English poet, between the 8th and 11th century.
The poem originates from Central or North-East England.
The story is based in Denmark, where Hrothgar, the King of the Danes, whose grand hall, Heorot and his knights, have been attacked for 12 years by an evil monster, Grendel, the man-eating monster that is half-man and half-fiend.
Grendel - the descendant of Cain who represents evil and corruption - lives in the bottom of the lake in the vicinity of Heorot.” 1
In Spring 2019, scientists made an attempt to find out whether the poem was written by one single author or rather composed based on several sources. The result of the study revealed Beowulf was written by a single author.
However, Bo Gräslund, retired archaeology Professor at Uppsala University in Sweden disagreed with this theory. Having studied Beowulf in detail, Professor Gräslund suggests the famous poem was written in Scandinavia and relates events that took place in Gotland. In his opinion, the poem offers valuable knowledge about Scandinavia's early history.
There is no evidence of a historical Beowulf, but some characters, sites, and events in the poem can be historically verified.
In an interview with the SVT, Professor Gräslund explained Beowulf was composed before Nordic people used written language. It was later written down in full in an English monastery. How the poem reached England is unknown but Professor Grsälund thinks this could have happened during a wedding between an East Anglian king and a princess from present-day Sweden.
Professor Bo Gräslund thinks Beowulf is an ancient Scandinavian work. Credit: SVT
If Professor Gränlund is correct, then Beowulf is 600 years older than previously thought. The text relates how the Beowulf people are waging war against the Swedish Army, which is beginning to spread across the Baltic Sea area in the 500s. The poem tells that Hygelac, Beowulf's king and uncle was killed during a plundering in the present-day Netherlands. The same description is found in Frankish sources from the mid-500s.