Beowulf Read in Old English

It’s been a while since I got to do any old English poetry, so it was an absolute pleasure to record and edit this video showing the first 25 lines of Beowulf over top of the original manuscript. As you can hear, English has changed a lot in the last millennium.

Whether there are many things that we can’t be certain enough when it comes to old English pronunciation – particularly the intonation – there are many things that we do know for certain about how old English was pronounced. The original manuscript is written in an Anglo-Saxon miniscule, which includes letters borrowed from the runic alphabet, such as the thorn, eth, and wynn. These letters represent the voiceless TH, voiced TH, and W respectively.

Hopefully, I will have the opportunity to produce more videos like this in the future, not only showcasing old English language and its poetry, but also actually providing tutorials to break down the grammar and meaning of these texts.

Special thanks to my former supervisor at Cambridge, Dr Richard Dance, who saw a draft of this video and helped me make some corrections in my pronunciation.

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