) is an Old English epic poem consisting of 3,182 alliterative lines.
It may be the oldest surviving long poem in Old English and is commonly cited as one of the most important works of Old English literature.
A date of composition is a matter of contention among scholars; the only certain dating pertains to the manuscript, which was produced between 9. Beowulf, a hero of the Geats, comes to the aid of Hrothgar, the king of the Danes, whose mead hall in Heorot has been under attack by a monster known as Grendel.
After Beowulf slays him, Grendel's mother attacks the hall and is then also defeated.
Victorious, Beowulf goes home to Geatland (Götaland in modern Sweden) and later becomes king of the Geats.
After a period of fifty years has passed, Beowulf defeats a dragon, but is mortally wounded in the battle.
After his death, his attendants cremate his body and erect a tower on a headland in his memory.
The events in the poem take place over most of the sixth century, after the Anglo-Saxons had started migrating to England and before the beginning of the seventh century, a time when the Anglo-Saxons were either newly arrived or were still in close contact with their Germanic kinsmen in Northern Germany and southern Scandinavia.The poem may have been brought to England by people of Geatish origins.Many suggest that Beowulf was first composed in the 7th century at Rendlesham in East Anglia, that the Sutton Hoo ship-burial also shows close connections with Scandinavia, and that the East Anglian royal dynasty, the Wuffingas, may have been descendants of the Geatish Wulfings.The poem deals with legends, was composed for entertainment, and does not separate between fictional elements and historic events, such as the raid by King Hygelac into Frisia.Though Beowulf himself is not mentioned in any other Anglo-Saxon manuscript, This concerns not only individuals (e.g., Healfdene, Hroðgar, Halga, Hroðulf, Eadgils and Ohthere), but also clans (e.g., Scyldings, Scylfings and Wulfings) and certain events (e.g., the Battle on the Ice of Lake Vänern). In Denmark, recent archaeological excavations at Lejre, where Scandinavian tradition located the seat of the Scyldings, i.e., Heorot, have revealed that a hall was built in the mid-6th century, exactly the time period of Beowulf.The dating of the events in the epic poem has been confirmed by archaeological excavations of the barrows in Uppland, Sweden, indicated by Snorri Sturluson and by Swedish tradition as the graves of Ohthere (dated to c. Like the Finnesburg Fragment and several shorter surviving poems, Beowulf has consequently been used as a source of information about Scandinavian figures such as Eadgils and Hygelac, and about continental Germanic figures such as Offa, king of the continental Angles.19th-century archaeological evidence may confirm elements of the Beowulf story.Eadgils was buried at Uppsala according to Snorri Sturluson.When Eadgils' mound (to the left in the photo) was excavated in 1874, the finds supported Beowulf and the sagas.They showed that a powerful man was buried in a large barrow, c.575, on a bear skin with two dogs and rich grave offerings.