Gawain and the green knight
Sir Gawain & The Green Knight
One of the greatest poems in the English language was written here in the Staffordshire Moorlands - that’s what some experts say. Here we explain how – and invite you to listen to its story.
Just before Chaucer, some time in the fourteenth century, a great poetic saga was written. It tells one of the most famous of the King Arthur stories, that of ‘Sir Gawain & The Green Knight’.
No one knows who wrote it, and in fact only one original manuscript exists.
But … it is very well-known. Two movies have been made of the poem’s story; and a ‘translation’ of the poem even figured as the centre of the BBC’s Poetry Season in 2009. You can buy more than a few audio-books of it – one even with Terry Jones (from Monty Python) as the reader.
Not bad for an anonymous, unreadable work!
The most famous translator of 'Sir Gawain & The Green Knight' is the author of ‘Lord of The Rings’, JRR Tolkien.
Lud's Church - the "green chapel"?
In the 1950s, a professor from Keele University in north Staffordshire went further. Ralph Elliott went walking with his students, and identified many of the sites in the poem as being in Staffordshire.
His researches were continued by another Keele professor, John Levitt, who claimed that the poet was probably a monk at the nearby Dieulacresse (or Dieulacres) Abbey at Leek.
The latest writer to attempt a full translation (the poem has over 2000 lines) is Simon Armitage.
The Abbey Inn - near the old Dieulacres site
Also, as befits the local station in whose area the poem is probably set, BBC Radio Stoke broadcast its own half-hour programme about the saga.
We found the programme in the station’s archives, and re-publish it here for you. Click on the link below to hear the programme
last updated: 24/11/2009 at 10:34