KS2 English: Beowulf
The Anglo-Saxon story of Beowulf is told in three short animations, covering his battles with the monster Grendel and Grendel's mother. Ensure you watch the Beowulf episodes to assess their suitability before sharing with your group.
The Anglo-Saxon story of 'Beowulf'
Beowulf is one of the most important texts in Old English and is believed to date from somewhere between 975 and 1025 - around the time of Alfred the Great. The author is unknown.
The poem consists of 3,182 lines and exists in a single copy, housed in the British Museum.
The events of the poem are set in Scandanavia. Hrothgar - King of the Danes - builds a mead hall called Heorot but comes under attack from a monster called Grendel. Gredel terrorises the Danes for twelve long years.
Beowulf, a prince of Geatland, hears of the Danes’ suffering and gains permission from his king to sail to their assistance.
Beowulf and his men spend the night in Heorot waiting for the inevitable attack. When Grendel breaks in Beowulf seizes the monster by the arm and will not let it go. Eventually Grendel’s arm is severed and the monster limps away to die.
The Danes and Geats celebrate their victory not knowing that Grendel’s mother is also about to terrorise Heorot, seeking vengeance for the death of her son. She enters Heorot, seizes Hrothgar's oldest friend and makes away with the severed arm of Grendel.
Beowulf tracks Grendel's mother to her underwater cave and fights her. Beowulf's sword has no power against the monster but then he spots an enormous sword in a corner of the cave. No ordinary mortal could lift the sword...but Beowulf can and he strikes at Grendel's mother.
In the original poem Beowulf returns to Geatland and, fifty years later as king, must fight a dragon. The dragon is killed but Beowulf has received a mortal wound. He dies and is ritually burned on a great funeral pyre.
Resources to support your study of Beowulf
Transcripts and line drawings appear on each of the individual episode pages.