An Epilogue for Beren & Lúthien: Tolkien’s Last Years, 1966-1973 & The Work of Christopher Tolkien (-2017).

The Road Goes Ever on – Headington to Bournemouth: Although life retirement sometimes seemed ‘grey and grim’ to Tolkien, it also had many elements that suited him. For one thing, he and Edith, at last, had enough money. However, the tax authorities took a large proportion of his earnings, and on one occasion, Tolkien wroteContinue reading “An Epilogue for Beren & Lúthien: Tolkien’s Last Years, 1966-1973 & The Work of Christopher Tolkien (-2017).”

The Making of an English Mythology; from Reality to Fantasy and back again, 1917-1954: Tolkien’s Creative Years.

Following his recovery from the Somme and ‘trench fever’ on his return from France in 1916, Tolkien was determined to create an entire mythology for England. He had hinted at this during his undergraduate days at Oxford when he studied and wrote of the Finnish ‘Kalevala’:

“I would that we had more of it left – something of the sort that belonged to the English.”

This idea now grew during his recuperation until it reached ‘epic’ proportions. This is how Tolkien expressed it when recollecting many years later:

“Do not laugh! But once upon a time (my crest has long since fallen), I had a mind to make a body of more or less connected legend, ranging from the large to the cosmogonic to the level of romantic fairy-story – the larger founded on the lesser in contact with the earth, the lesser drawing splendour from the vast backcloths – which I could dedicate simply: to England, to my country. “

J. R. R. Tolkien & Birmingham; the Formative Years, 1896-1916: Part Two (1908-16) – ‘Lang.’, Lore & Love.

Inventing Language: As a result of his insatiable love of words, Ronald started to invent his own languages. Some children have rudimentary private languages that they like to share together. This was what Ronald’s cousins Mary and Marjorie Incledon had done. They now lived outside Birmingham at Barnt Green, the neighbouring village to Rednal, andContinue reading “J. R. R. Tolkien & Birmingham; the Formative Years, 1896-1916: Part Two (1908-16) – ‘Lang.’, Lore & Love.”

The End of Saxon England? Revisiting the Norman Conquest: Chapter I – The Confessor, the Conqueror & the House of Wessex, 1035-1135

The Tragedy of Harold Godwinson: The story of the Norman ‘takeover’ of England has been told very often, most vividly in one of the earliest accounts in the form of Queen Matilda’s tapestry, still kept in Bayeux, which gives it the name it is better known by. French legend maintained the tapestry was commissioned andContinue reading “The End of Saxon England? Revisiting the Norman Conquest: Chapter I – The Confessor, the Conqueror & the House of Wessex, 1035-1135”

Unifying the Kingdoms of Britain: The Kings of Wessex & The Birth of England, 871-1031.

Chaos in Christendom: From the late ninth century until the mid-eleventh century in Europe, internal and external problems steadily weakened western Christendom. The Carolingian Empire had fragmented; no major military power existed in the West. The continued attacks of Muslims from the south, a new wave of attackers from central Asia, the Magyars (Hungarians) andContinue reading “Unifying the Kingdoms of Britain: The Kings of Wessex & The Birth of England, 871-1031.”

The False Dawn: Saxons, Celts and Britons, 616-839 – From Edwin of Northumbria to Egbert of Wessex.

The (no-longer-so-dark) Dark Ages: Since the discovery of the Sutton Hoo burial in Suffolk in 1939, archaeology has continued to shed light on the ‘Dark Ages’, where documentary evidence is lacking. The distribution of pagan fifth-century Anglo-Saxon burials indicates the probable areas of earliest English settlement in Britain. The English ‘advance’ continued throughout the periodContinue reading “The False Dawn: Saxons, Celts and Britons, 616-839 – From Edwin of Northumbria to Egbert of Wessex.”

The Establishment of Constantinian ‘Christendom’ in Europe & Decline of the Roman Empire in Britain, c. AD 210-410:

The Growth of Christianity under Persecution, c. 180-260: The Roman Empire bequeathed by Marcus Aurelius in AD 180 was recognisably the same state as that created by Augustus in the previous century. After two more centuries, however, it had been transformed by the triumph of barbarism and Christianity. The key changes had been the extensionContinue reading “The Establishment of Constantinian ‘Christendom’ in Europe & Decline of the Roman Empire in Britain, c. AD 210-410:”

Good King Lucius & The Establishment of Christianity in Britain: War, Economy & Religion, c. AD 60 – c. AD 210

The Christian Faith, Native Religious Traditions & Society: In the first and second centuries AD, the Christian faith spread very widely among the the poor and the slaves, to whom Christ’s teaching offered new hope and comfort. Excellent new communications by land and sea, and the movement of Roman troops, assisted the spread of theContinue reading “Good King Lucius & The Establishment of Christianity in Britain: War, Economy & Religion, c. AD 60 – c. AD 210”

Fact & Film: ‘Silly Suffolk’ – The Dialect of ‘The Dig’ at Sutton Hoo.

Above: the Sutton Hoo helmet discovered by Brown’s excavations History lessons: Soon after my son moved to Framlingham in Suffolk to take up his first teaching post at the local Thomas Mills’ High School, in 2014, I fulfilled one of my ‘bucket list’ ambitions, which was to visit Sutton Hoo, the archaeological site nearby which had beenContinue reading “Fact & Film: ‘Silly Suffolk’ – The Dialect of ‘The Dig’ at Sutton Hoo.”

The Civil Wars and Local Communities in England, 1642-47: Documents, Debates and Case Studies from Somerset, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Wiltshire.

National, Regional & Local Narratives: Local history has provided one of the most fruitful areas of study for historians researching the English Civil Wars in recent decades. Whereas earlier historians had tended to concentrate on presenting a chronological narrative of military events in the locality, more recent authors, stimulated by the wealth of source materialContinue reading “The Civil Wars and Local Communities in England, 1642-47: Documents, Debates and Case Studies from Somerset, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Wiltshire.”