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Bede, the Father of English History

The Essay, Anglo-Saxon Portraits Episode 12 of 30

15 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 22 January 2013

This major new series rediscovers the Anglo-Saxons through vivid portraits of thirty individuals - women as well as men, famous and humble - portraits of thirty key figures from the era 550-1066 written and presented by leading historians, archaeologists and enthusiasts in the field.

The Anglo-Saxons are somewhat out of fashion, yet the half millennium between the creation of the English nation in around 550 and the Norman Conquest in 1066 was a formative one.

Anglo-Saxon scholar and guide at Durham Cathedral where Bede is buried, Lilian Groves explores the life and times of the saint widely regarded as one of the greatest theological scholars who gave to the world 'The Ecclesiastical History of the English People' and marvels at the thousands of visitors from around the world who still come to worship at his tomb. In his lifetime, Bede lived in Northumbria - the edge of the known world. He never left the confines of his monastery yet he legacy is universal.

Contributors include Nobel prize-winner Seamus Heaney on the Beowulf bard, the departing Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams on the first Archbishop of Canterbury, St Augustine; writer David Almond on the oldest surviving English poet, Caedmon; Michael Wood on King Alfred; Martin Carver on Raedwald; Richard Gameson on Eadfrith the Scribe; Helena Hamerow on the peasant-farmer; Geoffrey Robertson QC on the law-makers.

Producer: Mohini Patel.


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  • Anglo-Saxon Portraits

    A series which rediscovers the Anglo-Saxons through vivid portraits of individuals.


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