Writing the Map of Anglo-Saxon England Essays in Cultural Geography Nicholas Howe

Publication date:
11 Dec 2007
Yale University Press
296 pages: 235 x 156 x 24mm
19 b-w illus.
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Eminent Anglo-Saxonist Nicholas Howe explores how the English, in the centuries before the Norman Conquest, located themselves both literally and imaginatively in the world. His elegantly written study focuses on Anglo-Saxon representations of  place as revealed in a wide variety of texts in Latin and Old English, as well as in diagrams of holy sites and a single map of the known world found in British Library, Cotton Tiberius B v.  The scholar’s investigations are supplemented and aided by insights gleaned from his many trips to physical sites.  


The Anglo-Saxons possessed a remarkable body of geographical knowledge in written rather than cartographic form, Howe demonstrates. To understand fully their cultural geography, he considers Anglo-Saxon writings about the places they actually inhabited and those they imagined. He finds in Anglo-Saxon geographic images a persistent sense of being far from the center of the world, and he discusses how these migratory peoples narrowed that distance and developed ways to define themselves.


The late Nicholas Howe was professor of English, University of California at Berkeley, and the author of several books, including Migration and Mythmaking in Anglo-Saxon England, published by Yale University Press.

"Nick Howe was the Anglo-Saxonist of my generation. This book, with its inquiries from Beowulf and Bede to post-Conquest England, eloquently testifies to his legacy and maps a future for our scholarship."—Seth Lerer, Stanford University

"Howe's broad and humane perspective makes this not just a landmark work in Anglo-Saxon studies, but a powerfully evocative meditation on land and culture, homeland and exile, conquest and colony, landscape and life, and the human condition of being 'at home' in the world."—Roy Liuzza, University of Tennessee   

"[Howe's] passion for his subject matter is evident in these rich and allusive readings, which combine textual analysis, personal observation, theory, philology, manuscript study, and archaeology in a way that will be sure to invigorate (or reinvigorate) the reader's interest in the field of Anglo-Saxon studies more generally. Like Migration and Mythmaking before it, Writing the Map of Anglo-Saxon England is scholarship that is learned and elegant while also being exciting and heartfelt."—Jacqueline Stodnick, Speculuma Journal of Medieval Studies