BBC Radio 3 announces a major reappraisal of the Anglo Saxon era through a 30-part series, The Essay: Anglo-Saxon Portraits.
Leading scholars and passionate broadcasters from the worlds of history, archaeology, religion, literature and art have been commissioned to write and read on-air portraits of 30 key Anglo-Saxon men and women. The series combines creative writing and recent scholarship to shed new light on this remarkable and often overlooked period in history.
The series will run in three 10-part essay series starting on Monday 15 October, and again in January and April 2013. The series will be all-encompassing, exploring the lives not only of influential individuals of the time but also the lives of men and women whose names may have faded with history, but whose work is just as significant today.
1. Vortigen: Barry Cunliffe, Emeritus Professor of European Archaeology at the University of Oxford discusses the near-legendary British warlord who may have invited the Anglo-Saxon legendary invaders.
2. The peasant-farmer: Helena Hamerow, Professor of Early Medieval Archaeology at the University of Oxford, on the voiceless millions of peasant-farmers who shaped the landscape of lowland rural England as we see it today.
3. St Augustine: Rowan Williams, outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury discusses the first ever Archbishop of Canterbury and his challenge of leading and converting late 6th century England. This heart-felt piece is based around the touchingly human letters which the isolated and under-confident Augustine sent to Pope Gregory back in Rome, often expressing a surprising preoccupation with sex, religion and the English.
4. Three Alpha-females: Martin Carver explains how excavations from three Anglo Saxon graves has provided insight into the lives of women would otherwise be silent.
5. King Raewald: Martin Carver, archaeologist of Sutton Hoo and editor of Antiquity Magazine, discusses the occupant of the magnificent ship burial at Sutton Hoo, King Raedwald.
6. King Edwin: Richard Gameson discusses the Northumbrian king whose conversion to Christianity was the occasion for one of the most poetic descriptions of human life of all time, as recorded by the great Anglo Saxon historian, Bede.
7. Penda of Mercia: Michael Wood, historian and broadcaster, discusses the last Pagan king in Britain, who may also have been the last man to wear items from the magnificent Staffordshire Hoard.
8. Hilde of Whitby: Barbara Yorke, Emeritus Professor of Early Medieval History at the University of Winchester discusses the now largely forgotten but hugely influential abbess Hilde of Whitby.
9. St Cuthbert: Tony Morris, former editor of history for Oxford University Press discusses St Cuthbert, and his continuing appeal today both on and far beyond the beautiful island of Lindisfarne where he made his home.
10. Eadfrith the Scribe: Richard Gameson, specialist in the history of the book at Durham University, discusses the creators of perhaps the greatest treasures from the entire Anglo-Saxon era - the illuminated book.