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Old English Course 2004

We didn’t intend to learn Old English, the language of the Anglo-Saxons.  We just wanted to speak it and hear it and and share with others the way people spoke here 1000 years ago.  We had only 5 lessons.

A small group of people, some members and some from the village, got together and recorded a CD with an adaptation of the Nine Herbs Charm for 4 women’s voices and a section
of Aelfric’s Colloquy. We also included a song thought to be from the 10th century about a viking raid.

The Nine Herbs Charm was found in an 11th century manuscript called The Lacnunga. The charm may be much older. The herbs are: mugwort, plantain, nettle, sweet cecily, fennel, crabapple, bittercress and camomile.  Attorlathe may be betony, bistort, cock's spur grass, belladonna, or viper's bugloss - the debate continues. The charm is a mixture of pre-Christian and Christian elements - the Christian elements may have been added later.

Aelfric was a 10th century teacher and writer in a monastery school.  He wrote the Colloquy in Latin on subjects boys would understand and hoped to encourage their study.  Someone added the Old English translation, between the lines. Our recording included interviews with a pupil, a merchant, a fisherman, a shoemaker and a shepherd.