Writing a Letter in Anglo-Saxon England

This event has finished Took place on: Monday, 9th Apr 2018

In 704 or 705AD, Wealdhere, Bishop of London, wrote a letter to Berhtwald, Archbishop of Canterbury. Wealdhere was writing to request permission to attend a meeting between the bishops of two Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, the East Saxons and the West Saxons. Although the content of this letter is historically interesting, it is most well known for being the earliest original letter written on parchment to survive from Western Europe. Original letters which predate this document were written on other materials, such as papyrus or wooden tablets. 

Other surviving letters from this period are preserved in later copies, often written centuries after the original letter was sent. Letters copied into manuscript form were easier to study, and more likely to survive for future generations. However, these later copies rarely retained any physical features of the original document. As an original document, Wealdhere’s letter is therefore a critical witness to early medieval letter writing culture. 

Collaborative doctoral student Becky Lawton will discuss the physical features of this letter, and what they can reveal about the act of writing and receiving a letter in the 8th century. This talk will also consider how early letters were preserved, and how this affects the way historians reconstruct their original impact on Anglo-Saxon audiences.

Cost: £5.00


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2018-04-09 2018-04-09 Europe/London Writing a Letter in Anglo-Saxon England Collaborative doctoral student Becky Lawton will discuss the physical features of this letter, and what they can reveal about the act of writing and receiving a letter in the 8th century. https://www.ianvisits.co.uk/calendar/2018/04/09/writing-a-letter-in-anglo-saxon-england-167872 The British Library,96 Euston Road, London,London,London

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96 Euston Road, London,
London,
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NW1 2DB

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