Old English Masterclass

- , 10.30 - 16.00
Old English
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  • Tel: +44 (0)1937 546546
  • Email: boxoffice@bl.uk
  • From £157 – £185
    Concessions available

Explore the perils and pleasures of studying a dead language which only survives now in a limited number of manuscripts.

Join our introduction to Old English and encounter the language of the Anglo-Saxons. We’ll explore Old English in its cultural context and will help you develop skills in analysing and drawing meaning from set texts through accessible exercises and close reading.

Over the weekend you’ll gain an understanding of the journey of the English language – from Old English into Middle English and subsequently Modern English, looking at texts such a Beowulf, Ancrene Wisse and riddles from the Exeter Book.

Read the full course outline (PDF).

This course will run across two dates:

  • Saturday 21 October, 10.30 – 17.00
  • Sunday 22 October, 10.30 – 17.00

Previous experience

None required. Our course is designed for anyone who wants to develop a basic awareness of Old English in its cultural and historical context.


Dr Victoria Symons is a medievalist specialising in Old English literature, medical practices and runic writing. She holds an honorary lectureship at University College London, having taught Old and Middle English language and literature for more than a decade at a variety of institutions. She is the author and editor of books including The Tale of Beowulf (2022), Runes and Roman Letters in Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts (2017) and Stasis in the Medieval West (2017). Her wider publications include numerous articles, chapters, translations and blogposts for both academic and general audiences, with notable ventures ranging from co-editing The Riddle Ages blog to working on a Beowulf-inspired videogame project. Although her first love will always be runes, her current research centres on childbirth and domestic remedies in both Old and Middle English contexts.  

Dr Mary Wellesley is an Associate Member of the English Faculty at the University of Oxford. She has worked in the British Library’s department of Ancient, Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts and also held a Research Affiliateship at the library. Her book, Hidden Hands: the Lives of Manuscripts and Their Makers was published in October 2021. It was chosen as one of the history books of the year by both The Times and BBC History Magazine. Mary is passionate about communicating medieval history to the widest possible audience. Alongside her academic work, she writes widely – her work has appeared in the Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The London Review of BooksThe New York Review of Books and The Times Literary Supplement, amongst others. She is also the co-host of two podcast series made by the London Review of Books, ‘Encounters with Medieval Women’ and ‘Medieval Beginnings’. She spent 2017 developing the medieval section of the British Library’s Discovering Literature online resource, which showcases the Library’s medieval English literary collections.


When: - , 10.30 - 16.00
Price: From £157 – £185
Concessions available
Where: Harry M Weinrebe Learning Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Show Map      How to get to the Library
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546
Book now