Saxon Poetry

Until recently the Saxon era was known as the Dark Ages because much of the story telling was oral, rather than written. Also a great deal of what was written and much of the architecture and artefacts from the era were destroyed by William the Conqueror and Henry VIII with his dissolution of the monasteries and other sites of historical interest, such as at Sutton Hoo.


Beowulf is a Saxon heroic epic poem set in Scandinavia, and one of most important works of Saxon and English literature. Based on oral traditions and story-telling it would have been told in the mead halls of the Saxon Meon Valley… and maybe even first written here.

This video is introduced by Sir John Gielgud and read by Julian Glover

The Seafarer

The Seafarer is a Saxon poem recorded, along with other poems and riddles, in the Exeter Book, an anthology of Saxon poetry and riddles dating from the 10th century. The original Exeter Book is in the Treasure gallery of the British Library in London.

This video (including a back-drop of the South Downs coast) is an extract of a translation by the legendary American poet, Ezra Pound.

The Lament of Deor

The Lament of Deor (accompanied by a Saxon Lyre Harp). This is the lament of a Saxon poet (scop) called Deor; the reading is accompanied by Saxon music played on an authentic replica Saxon lyre or harp.