The Mead Hall: The Feasting Tradition in Anglo-Saxon England
Communal meals were an important part of Anglo-Saxon society. They were enjoyed by nobles and yeomen, warriors, farmers, churchmen and laity. Some of the feasts were informal communal gatherings (gebeorscipe) while others were formal ritual gatherings (symbel).
Using the evidence of Old English texts - including the epic Beowulf and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles - Stephen Pollington shows that the idea of feasting remained central to early English social traditions long after the physical reality had declined in importance.
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7th century Anglo Anglo-Saxon England Anglo-Saxon period appears archaeological baet Bayeux Tapestry Beowulf bone bronze building burial centre Christian colour construction contexts cooking culture cups decorated diameter drinking horns ealle Enright evidence example excavated Exeter Book feast female Geats gebeorscipe Germanic grave guests Hagen hanging bowl harp Healfdenes hearth Heorot Herschend high-status hine honour household Icelandic important Ingeld iron King king's known lady leader leod lord lord's mead mead-hall meal mediaeval metal Mound Norse Old English Old English verse ond mid pagan period pcer pcet pieces poem poet Pollington possible religious riddles ritual Roman Saxon sceal scop seat secular settlement SFBs ship burial similar social society song strong drink structure suggests survive Sutton Hoo symbel Tacitus Taplow thane timber tradition vessels Viking walls warband warriors wces Wealhbeow West Stow Widsid wooden word Yeavering