Words in English public website
LING 216
Rice University
Prof. S. Kemmer

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is a year-by-year narrative of what happened in England in Anglo-Saxon times, kept by monks in the great monasteries. (Copies were circulated among the monasteries every so often; there are several surviving manuscripts.) Entries were made from the early 9th century to 1154, when the Chronicle for unknown reasons suddenly ceased being kept. It has vivid descriptions of the Viking catastrophes and the Norman Invasion and its aftermath.

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is a unique document from a fascinating period of history. The entries through time not only provide eye-witness records of events, but also show how the language was gradually changing in Anglo-Saxon times.

Sample Entries: The Vikings Sack Lindisfarne

789 A.D. Brihtric took Offa's daughter Eadburg for his wife. In his days came the first three ships of the Northmen from Horthaland. The reeve rode there, and tried to force them to go to the king's dwelling, because he did not know what they were; and then he was killed. Those were the first ships of Danish men to seek out of the land of the English.

793 A.D. In this year fierce, foreboding omens came over the land of Northumbria, and wretchedly terrified the people. There were incredible whirlwinds, lightning storms, and fiery dragons were seen flying in the sky. These signs were followed by great famine, and shortly after in the same year, on January 8th, the ravaging of heathen men destroyed God's church at Lindisfarne through brutal robbery and slaughter; and Sicga died on February 2nd.

(sample entries from the Anne Savage edition, see Online and other Sources of Information

© Suzanne Kemmer