I have to confess I have never read Beowolf nor watched the recent TV version, but I have heard of it as an important milestone in English literature.  One thing that has often been said is that it was fiction.  Not only were the monsters and magic unbelievable, but the setting was mythical too.  Anglo-Saxon kings, let alone warriors, were not so wealthy as to have lots of gold and silver on their armour and weapons.  Not many precious stones either.  The whole country was much poorer than the impression given in the saga.

That seemed reasonable.  Until they discovered the Staffordshire Hoard.  It consisted of vast quantities of gold, silver and jewelled objects of all kinds: helmets, swords, saddle-fittings, belt-buckles and much more.  This was from the period when Beowolf was written.  So it was more accurate than we thought, at least in certain respects.

So what?

When people tell us with apparent certainty that the Bible is nothing but a collection of myths, they should speak with less certainty.  In fact, archaeology has sometimes confirmed statements in the Bible that critics have dismissed.  King Solomon’s stables did exist.  So he did establish a cavalry, contrary to God’s Will, as it would lead to the oppression of the people.  A lot of ivory was found at the site of a palace in Samaria, where kings had been condemned by prophets for living in ‘Ivory Palaces’  while the people lived in poverty.

Beowolf is another reminder to be careful before dismissing something as mythical just because we do not yet have evidence to prove it.

I will try to be true to history where I can be, but I am writing novels, not textbooks.  I hope they will encourage some of you to study further to get the whole story.