Monday, June 10, 2013

The Gods of the North

The Gods of the North

Day School with David Beard MA, FSA

       Saturday, 13th July 2013

Although Anglo-Saxon England was at least nominally Christian from the 8th century, five of the English names of the days of the week refer to early Germanic pagan gods.  Even the two most important Christian festivals, Easter and Christmas, took over the pagan festivals associated with the goddess “Ēostre” and the festival of “geōl” (yule) respectively.

Christian monuments such as the Gosforth Cross and several of the cross slabs from the Isle of Man depict scenes from pagan mythology, and place-names such as Easebourne, Wansdyke and Wayland’s Smithy testify to the knowledge of old beliefs well into the Christian period.

Burial archaeology can provide clues to the nature of early religions, although interpretation is often difficult, and recent archaeological work has demonstrated the influence of Saami religion in some areas of Viking Scandinavia.

This Day School will use the evidence from archaeology, medieval art and literature, and place-name studies to examine the nature of these early Germanic religions.

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