KS2 Music: The Anglo-Saxons
There are six songs to learn and seven dramas to explore, including Alfred the Great, Athelstan, the story of Beowulf (told in three episodes) and the end of the Anglo-Saxon dynasty in 1066 at The Battle of Hastings.
Using the Anglo-Saxons web pages
The content for The Anglo-Saxons is structured on the six songs to learn. Each song appears on its own dedicated page and includes the following resources, which are currently a mix of audio and video:
- Song tutorial - each about 10 minutes in length (audio)
- Karaoke full vocal version of the song (video with lyrics text)
- Drama episode (video)
- Music activity - each about 5 minutes in length (audio)
- Listening music to appraise - a mix of video files and external links
- Lyrics for each song to display or download (pdf)
- A transcript of the drama episode (pdf)
- Teacher Notes describing all the content and how best to use it (pdf)
Use the Tutorial audio to begin learning each song: Nigel Pilkington guides pupils through each song methodically, giving extra attention to any difficult passages or activities in groups. Refer to the Teacher's Notes for each song to establish whether the class needs to be split into groups before starting the tutorial (for example to sing in harmony).
Use the Drama episode to listen the story element. Each episode links to the song on the same page and is about 5 minutes long.
Use the Full vocal versions of the songs to revise them in preparation for a performance.
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 - the time of Alfred, Athelstan and the Anglo-Saxons. 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. Beowulf, a prince of Geatland, hears of the Danes’ suffering and sails 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. Beowulf tracks her to her underwater cave and fights her.
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.