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Circolwyrde 2005: New Electronic Resources for Anglo-Saxon Studies


Edward Christie, Columbia College, Missouri

Circolwyrde is an annual OEN feature which considers digital resources that have been developed or substantially revised in the past year or so, or that have not been mentioned in previous surveys. The title Circolwyrde is a hapax legomenon from Byrhtferth's Manual that means "mathematician" (literally "the state or event of cycles"). Carl Berkhout reinvents the term as "computer" in his neologized lexicon of Old English technology terms (Circolwyrde Wordhord, http://www.u.arizona.edu/~ctb/wordhord.html), and thus renders it an apt embodiment of the form and content of Anglo-Saxon digital resources. Circolwyrde's coverage has no pretensions to comprehensiveness, and welcomes notices of any other new or substantially revised electronic materials or commercial products. Please send any such notices to Eddie Christie at ejchristie@ccis.edu.


Online Publications

OEN is now available online at http://www.oenewsletter.org/OEN/; the site, like the print version, contains news, announcements, calls for papers, notices of publications, abstracts and notes of research in progress, as well as essays, annual reports of ongoing projects, and memorials of scholars who have recently died. The online version of OEN has many enhancements over the print version: "Events" contains not only the information found in the first section of OEN, but also a section for New Announcements, frequently updated, which have appeared too late for the current issue or too soon for the next. "Publications" has a link that searches the online Medieval Review for books on Anglo-Saxon topics; notices of individual books contain links to publishers' web sites. In addition to the project reports printed in OEN, the "Reports" section contains searchable versions of recent Research in Progress lists (compiled by Heide Estes) and a searchable database of conference abstracts from 2000 to the present (collected by Robert Butler). Essays can be read in on-screen or downloaded as .pdf files for greater clarity and quality; reports and essays are also collected in an online Archive (currently going back to OEN 34). The site also offers a collection of links to various sites, information on subscriptions and OEN Subsidia, and a link to the OEN Bibliography Database (see below).



The Museum of London website (http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/; click on "Collections") features a catalog of Anglo-Saxon and early medieval ceramic and glass bowls, crucibles, jars, jugs, and pitchers. The catalog includes enlargeable images of 97 of the museum's 156 items and lists the dimensions, production date, and collection place of each item.

The Archaeology Data Service (ADS), http://ads.ahds.ac.uk/index.html, whose mission is to provide dependable digital resources for research and teaching in Archaeology, continues to add to their online archive and report breaking archaeological news, as well as hosting the Arts and Humanities Data Service (AHDS). Through Archsearch, one may search using key words (a straightforward search for "Anglo-Saxon" yields 292 hits), or use a clickable map to search for finds by region. Many of these hits are linked to information archived online by ADS.

Recent additions to the ADS include Birte Brugman's archive of beads from Anglo-Saxon graves (http://ads.ahds.ac.uk/catalogue/search/fr.cfm?rcn=BEADS03-1). This archive takes the form of a downloadable spreadsheet, but was also published as an appendix to Brugman's Glass Beads from Early Anglo-Saxon Graves. A study of the provenance and chronology of Glass Beads from Anglo-Saxon Graves (Oxford, 2004).

Though not new, the British and Irish Archaeological Bibliography, http://www.biab.ac.uk/online/, is now free. The online database contains over 200,000 entries covering publications from 1695 to the present on archaeology, environmental history, and the conservation of material culture. A straightforward search for "Anglo-Saxon" returns 2090 results, including journal articles from as recently as 2000 and as far back as the mid-nineteenth century.

Jeremy Hugget maintains the Anglo-Saxon Archaeology website at the University of Glasgow (http://www.gla.ac.uk/Acad/Archaeology/resources/Anglo-Saxon/index.html), which in addition to his own research on Anglo-Saxon cemeteries, collects links to a wide range of resources, including a good number of regional reports and reports on specific excavations.


Cultural/Historical Resources

In May 2005, the first phase of the impressive Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England (PASE) database went online. Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and directed by Janet Nelson (King's College, London) and Simon Keynes (University of Cambridge), PASE (http://www.pase.ac.uk) is a relational database that accounts for, "in principle, every recorded individual who lived in, or was closely connected with Anglo-Saxon England from 597 to 1042." Thus, from Alfred the Great, to Alfred, Reeve at Bath, who is known to us only from a single brief reference (in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle) to his death, any Anglo-Saxon ever mentioned in the historical record can be compared or connected to his folk. The attractively presented and highly functional database can be searched by means of nine different indices: Persons, Status, Source, Locations, Events, Offices, Occupations, Relationships, and Possessions. Although, as a prosopography, the 'Person Record' is presumably the kernel of information, persons can nonetheless be understood refracted through other fields and connections, either to each other, or to documents, events and so forth. The 'Person Record' comprises a list of 'factoids' ("an assertion that a source says something about a person"), including links to other categories named by the search indices, but also to personal profiles including ethnicity, language competence, religion, stated health, as well moral, intellectual, and psychological qualities. Following links to these personal qualities directs one to primary sources where the character of the individual in question is attested. Complex enquiries may be built, for example, to find only Kings connected with london, and the database includes a feature to search specifically for linked persons. My brief attempt to relay the depth and breadth of this potent tool necessarily fails; This is an extraordinary resource which will soon be augmented and completed by PASE2.

The Language of Landscape: Reading the Anglo-Saxon Countryside (http://www.kcl.ac.uk/humanities/cch/langscape/) is funded by the AHRC 2004-2007 and based in the Center for Humanities Computing at King's College, London. Although still developing, the project proposes to produce an electronic corpus of Anglo-Saxon boundary clauses with extensive XML markup, to be made accessible over the World Wide Web. The information of the corpus serves a variety of areas of study, from dialect studies to the examination of social and economic conditions in Anglo-Saxon England.


Dictionaries and Thesauri

The Thesaurus of Old English Online (http://libra.englang.arts.gla.ac.uk/oethesaurus/), hosted by the University of Glasgow and created by Flora Edmonds, Christian Kay, Jane Roberts, and Irené Wotherspoon, is an electronic version of A Thesaurus of Old English, by Jane Roberts and Christian Kay with Lynne Grundy (2 vols; London: King's College London Medieval Studies XI, 1995. Second impression Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2000). This remarkable and well-designed site provides new ways to access this rich reference work. A detailed explanation of the scope and flexibility of the online database has been given by Christian Kay in a report for OEN 38.3 (2005): 36–40; the report itself is online at http://www.oenewsletter.org/OEN/reports.php?file=reports/kay38_3.txt.

2005 was a big year for the Rev. Joseph Bosworth and T. Nortcote Toller; the digitized version of the Bosworth-Toller Anglo-Saxon Dictionary (Oxford, 1898; revised and enlarged edition 1921) is available online at http://beowulf.engl.uky.edu/~kiernan/BT/Bosworth-Toller.htm and http://dontgohere.nu/oe/as-bt/. David Finucane has created a free desktop version of the Dictionary (for Macintosh OS X only), available from http://www.davidfinucane.com/bosworthToller.html. The text of the Bosworth-Toller Dictionary is only one of many early dictionaries and grammars found at Sean Crist's Germanic Lexicon Project (http://www.ling.upenn.edu/~kurisuto/germanic/aa_texts.html), which continues to grow and improve.


Electronic texts and editions

The Dictionary of Old English Project has released an updated version of its Corpus of Old English on CD-ROM; further information is available at http://www.doe.utoronto.ca/pub/corpus.html.

The Wulfila Project (http://www.wulfila.be/), though not yet complete, provides online facsimiles of Eduard Sievers' 1878 edition of Old Saxon Heliand as well as the text of the Gothic Bible with interlinear translations from a choice of KJV and Clementine Vulgate, as well as Greek or French translations.

Tony Jebson has significantly updated his online edition of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, available at http://jebbo.home.texas.net/asc/asc.html. The site is still developing, but promises to be an extraordinarily useful tool for study of this complex text.

Jonathan Herold's "Early Medieval Record-Keeping and the Nero-Middleton Cartulary" (http://individual.utoronto.ca/emrecordkeeping/index.htm) contains parallel transcriptions of two related collections, the Liber Wigornensis (London, BL, MS Cotton Tiberius A. xiii, fols. 1r–118v) and the Nero-Middleton Cartulary (BL MS Cotton Nero E. i., part 2, fols. 181–184 + BL Additional MS 46204), along with images of the two cartulary manuscripts, introductions, a select bibliography, and related supporting material drawn from a variety of early printed sources.

The Societa International per lo Studio del Medioevo Latino (SISMEL) offers CD-ROM texts in its Edizioni del Galluzo, including a complete facsimile of the Codex Amiatinus (Ms. Firenze, Bibliotheca Medicea Laurenziana, Amiatino 1) edited by L.G.G. Ricci et al. (2000). The Society offers several electronic editions, texts, and translations on CD-ROM including the Legenda Aurea, Medieval Latin Poetry 650-1250, and Classics of The Latin Middle Ages. The brief catalog can be searched at http://www.sismel.it/. Additionally, the Society will hold an international conference on "Digital Philology and Medieval Texts" in January 2006, at Arezzo (http://www.sismelfirenze.it/attivita/ita/digitalphilology.htm). Kevin Kiernan will speak on the Electronic Beowulf and Edition Production and Presentation Technology (a free software platform and supporting documents for the production of image-based electronic editions, http://beowulf.engl.uky.edu/~eft/EPPT-Demo.html).


Catalogs, Archives, and Libraries

Under the direction of Christoph Flüeler (Mediävistiches Institut, Universität Miséricorde, Fribourg) and Ernst Tremp (Stiftsbibliothek, St. Gallen), the Abbey Library of St. Gall presents the Codices Electronici Sangallensis (http://www.cesg.unifr.ch/en/index.htm—the site is also available in German, French, and Italian), a virtual library containing high-resolution digital facsimiles of St. Gall manuscripts. With over 2000 codices, 400 of which were written prior to 1000 A.D., the St. Gall Library is one of the oldest and most important manuscript libraries in the world; many of its items will be of interest to Anglo-Saxonists. Currently the virtual library contains 60 manuscripts, but will be continually expanded until the target of 130 illuminated manuscripts is reached. This impressive and thoughtfully-constructed project is a welcome companion to the Codices Electronici Ecclesiae Coloniensi project reported last year (http://www.ceec.uni-koeln.de/), presenting digital facsimiles of the manuscripts in the Diözesan- und Dombibliothek in Cologne.



The Digital Archive of Medieval Music (DIAMM), a collaboration between scholars at the University of Oxford and Royal Holloway, University of London, creates an electronic archive of digital images of European sources of medieval music. The Archive, http://www.diamm.ac.uk/index.html, contains detailed records, including manuscript descriptions of all the complete and fragmentary sources of polyphony up to 1550 in the UK (e.g. the mid-eleventh century 'Wincester Troper', CCCC 473) as well as representative manuscripts from the continent. The wide geographical spread and fragmentary nature of many of these sources have contributed to their relative neglect, but their newfound electronic accessibility represents an extraordinary resource for the study of the repertory as a whole.



Among the many rumored and reported screen versions of Beowulf, the film Beowulf and Grendel, directed by Sturla Gunnarsson, has attracted the most attention from the academic community for its location filming in Iceland, its respected international cast and its apparently serious intentions (despite the liberties it takes with the story and its insistence on pronouncing the word Geat as if it rhymed with 'meat'). The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in August 2005 and its U.S. premiere at the Palm Springs Film Festival in January 2006. The film's website, noted in the last Circolwyrde (http://www.beowulf-movie.com), contains trailers, photos, press information, and much more.



The Old English Newsletter Bibliography database, a searchable version of the annual bibliography published in OEN, is now online at http://www.oenewsletter.org/OENDB/. The database contains more than 17,500 entries and 5,000 reviews, drawn from the annual OEN Bibliographies from 1973 to 2002; it will be updated annually to incorporate new OEN Bibliographies as they are published. Items can be searched by almost any combination of subject heading, keywords, author, title, journal, date, language, or type of item; search results can be saved, printed, or sent by email. The database is free, but registration is required for use.

The Royal Historical Society Bibliography (http://www.rhs.ac.uk/bibl/dataset.asp), now presented in association with Irish History Online and London's Past Online, underwent significant improvements in 2005. In addition to providing expansions and updates to the material published in The Royal Historical Society Bibliography on CD-ROM (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998) and the annual printed RHS Bibliographies, with thousands of new and carefully cross-referenced records added annually, the site now offers links to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and the British National Register of Archives. It can also, in most cases, automatically detect whether a user is on a network with access to full-text collections such as Project MUSE or EDINA, and provide links to articles themselves, or to libraries containing books and journals.

Jim Marchand's compendious list "What Every Medievalist Should Know," or WEMSK, is mounted on the Online Reference Book (ORB) for Medieval Studies by Stephen M. Carey, http://www.the-orb.net/wemsk/wemskmenu.html. WEMSK was originally posted serially to the listserv MEDTEXT-L and is intended to "help the beginning or semi-advanced graduate student work up a new field." WEMSK 30, "Old English Literature," appended by Tom Hill, includes essential bibliography to help students orient themselves in the field. Related WEMSKs include Celtic, Norse, Gothic, Slavic languages and literatures, as well as Linguistics, History, Iconography, and Medieval Latin.

In 2004, Larry Swain compliled an extensive bibliography of "Saints on the Web," which can be accessed at Western Michigan University's website for the 2006 NEH Summer Seminar "Holy Men and Holy Women of Anglo-Saxon England" (http://www.wmich.edu/medieval/academic/courses/04sts/main.htm).

Drawing on the annual Bibliographies of the MLA, YWES, OEN, and Anglo-Saxon England, William Klein presents an online bibliography of the Exeter Book Riddles at http://www2.kenyon.edu/AngloSaxonRiddles/listing.htm.

Edward Pettit, editor and translator of Anglo-Saxon Remedies, Charms, and Prayers from British Library MS 585: The 'Lacnunga' (2 vols. Mellen Critical Editions and Translations 6a and 6b. Lewiston: Edwin Mellen, 2001), provides a frequently-updated "Supplementary Bibliography for the Lacnunga and Anglo-Saxon Medicine and Magic" at http://www.yggdrasill.plus.com/html/lacnunga.html.


Important Indices

Most of the following resources are not actually new, but because of their utility each year's Circolwyrde ends with such a list. Though dozens of Anglo-Saxon hyper-indices may be found on the Web, few are as comprehensive or as mindfully updated (i.e., with fewer broken links, though the evolving nature of the internet makes these unavoidable to some degree) as those listed below. If you are looking for a particular aspect of Anglo-Saxon language, history, culture or literature, start with these trusted indices.

The Old English Pages are now a part of the Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies (ORB); the Anglo-Saxon section of ORB (http://www.the-orb.net/encyclop/early/pre1000/asindex.html) contains original essays, a substantial list of on-line texts and editions, and a broad range of teaching materials, other indices, and Old English Societies. ORB encourages submissions, and users should contact the site's new Editor, Kathryn Talarico, at Editor@the-orb.net for further information.

Ansaxdat (http://www.mun.ca/Ansaxdat/) is the full-text database for the Listserv discussion group ANSAXNET; it allows one to search through thousands of postings from the past fifteen years for specific discussions of Anglo-Saxon studies.

The on-line journal The Heroic Age maintains a sizable collection of Anglo-Saxon links (http://members.aol.com/heroicage1/as.htm), ranging from scholarly to local levels, and including hyperindices of bibliography, history, archaeology, literature, education, art, manuscripts, religion, research projects and journals.

The Labyrinth Library provides a basic but useful set of Old English links (http://labyrinth.georgetown.edu/; choose "English, Old"); some links are in need of updating. The Labyrinth has indexed its resources in a database, allowing for quick and concise searching of its architecture. Additionally, The Labyrinth's alphabetical index to Old English poetry (http://www.georgetown.edu/labyrinth/library/oe/alpha.html) provides quick access to almost every poem in Old English.

Though the Teachers of Old English in Britain and Ireland (TOEBI) Web Resources Page (http://www.hcu.ox.ac.uk/toebi/www.html) includes textual and cultural catalogues similar to the indices described above, TOEBI's strength lies in its list of on-line teaching materials.

Simon Keynes's "Anglo-Saxon Index at Trinity College, Cambridge" (http://www.trin.cam.ac.uk/sdk13/asindex.html) is so extensive and so well-maintained that it deserves a place on any list of first-resort references.