Beowulf: It Was Epic!

A recent immersion event in the Barony of Concordia of the Snows, East Kingdom, brought vividly to life the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf in a way seldom seen at SCA events.

Over thirty bards, scops, and singers, and as many listeners, gathered in a recreated 11th-century mead hall to perform and hear the entire ancient poem in modern English translation. Walls decorated with bright hand-painted hangings, tall pillars, wooden benches and a long firepit all contributed to the atmosphere. 

His Excelleny Baron Pierre of Concordia of the Snows presided as ring-giver while each performer offered his or  her own interpretation of a segment of the poem. Many chose to recite; some accompanied themselves on instruments, chanted or sang the lines.

The recitation began shortly after lunch with a short segment in Old English, followed by the modern English opening. Punctuated by rest breaks and an Anglo-Saxon feast, it concluded in late evening.

Tears were seen and cries of admiration and dismay were heard in the hall at the telling of Beowulf's courageous death in battle with a dragon. Many of those present later commented on the completeness and effectiveness of the staging.

A member of the Order of the Pelican who served at the event called it "the best [he'd] attended in 18 years in the SCA."

The event was the brainchild of Master Toki Redbeard, O.L., who was assisted by his apprentice Lady Aoife and by  Dr. M. Wendy Hennequin of Tennessee State University (Mistress Fiana of Clare), who served as academic advisor to the project.