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Circolwyrde 2003: New Electronic Resources for Anglo-Saxon Studies


Martin K. Foys, Hood College, Maryland

Circolwyrde is an annual OEN feature which considers digital resources that have been developed or substantially revised in the past year or so, or 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 Martin Foys at foys@hood.edu.

NOTE: links updated as of 24 July 2004; please report any broken links to rliuzza@utk.edu.


Art and Visual Materials

Sancta Crux/Halig Rod: The Cross in Anglo-Saxon England (http://www2.hawaii.edu/%7Ekjolly/cross/cross.html) showcases the three-year project to study how "the cross as an object, gesture, and concept played an innovative role in Anglo-Saxon culture, evident in art, architecture, literature, ritual, medicine, and popular practice." The site includes the details of three major conferences (at Durham, Manchester and Winchester), paper abstracts, as well as a project bibliography.

The British Library's new (May 2003) Collect Britain site (http://www.collectbritain.co.uk/) contains a number of maps of Anglo-Saxon London (search on "Londinium"), including an 1810 map of Anglo-Saxon London entitled "LONDINIUM Augusta: The City of London in the time of the Saxon Dynasty about the Year 1000." The collection also contains the Anglo-Saxon Mappamundi, the oldest English map of the world (search on "Anglo-Saxon").

On the lighter side, you can now make your very own Bayeux Tapestry (http://www.adgame-wonderland.de/type/bayeux.php). With the Historic Tale Construction Kit, one can manipulate figures and objects from the Bayeux Tapestry, and add custom text, which appears in the stitched font of the original textile—quite funny. A Flash plug-in is required for operation.



The Early Medieval Corpus (EMC) (http://www-cm.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/Coins/emc_intro.html) strives "to gather together into a single database all of the single finds of coins minted 410–1180 found in the British Isles." Based at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, it provides a checklist of coin hoards, as well as the ability to search the coin corpus by kingdom, ruler, mint, county, and findspot. Searching may also be joined with the Sylloge of Coins of the British Isles (SCBI, at http://www-cm.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/Coins/scbi/index.html), and results yield full entries (including images), as well as the option of viewing a map of related find spots or a histogram of the search results).


Cultural / Historical Resources

Dragons in the Sky (http://users.ox.ac.uk/~stuart/dits/), an in-progress collection of essays which provide cultural links from Anglo-Saxon England to present-day societies has added a new essay, "Verbal Dueling," by Irina A. Dumitrescu, which studies the relationship of Old English flyting and "gangsta rap."

Carolin Esser's Apocalyptic Ideas in Old English Literature (http://www.apocalyptic-theories.com/) works to "develop a general introduction to the influence of apocalyptic ideas on Anglo-Saxon literature and culture and [provide] a centre for the discussion and further study of this field." Sections of this well-designed and visually stimulating site include "Apocalyptic Theories," "Anglo-Saxon Literature," Anglo-Saxon Society," a gallery of visual aids, and a forum that revolves around a serious of constantly changing questions.

The Vinolandia Tablets Online project (http://vindolanda.csad.ox.ac.uk:8080) has a searchable edition, and introduction to the historical context, and a reference guide to the writing tablets excavated from the Roman fort in northern England.

Bede's World (http://www.bedesworld.co.uk) has redesigned and updated their website, which now includes a bibliography for the Jarrow excavations, and a detailed account of the experimental reconstruction of Northumbrian timber buildings at Bede's World.

BBC-Suffolk has created several 360-degree panoramic views of Suffolk, including some of interest to Anglo-Saxonists, such as a view of the West Stow Anglo-Saxon village (http://www.bbc.co.uk/suffolk/360/views/anglo_saxon_village.shtml),the Wuffings cemetery (http://www.bbc.co.uk/suffolk/360/views/sutton_hoo.shtml), and Bury St Edmunds (http://www.bbc.co.uk/suffolk/360/views/bury_stedmundsbury_cathedral1.shtml).

Alfred Becker's dual-language site on the Franks Casket (http://www.franks-casket.de/) offers a comprehensive overview of this seventh-century Northumbrian object. Though still in development, Becker's site already contains a host of resources, including clear images of all sides of the casket, translations of runic inscriptions, essays on the historical and cultural background of northern Anglo-Saxon England and a bibliography (in German). In addition to discussions of the object's purpose or function, the runic programme of the artist, and the iconography of "the Virgin and the Vamp," Becker also plans to add a full glossary of relevant terms, a forum for postings on the Franks Casket, and even a page on the medieval uses of whalebone.



The Dictionary of Old English project (http://www.doe.utoronto.ca/) has published a (Windows-only) CD-ROM containing revised electronic versions of fascicles A through E, as well as the first release of F (containing some 3016 headwords). Users "can search on grammatical class, dialect tags, on elements of headwords, on specific spellings, on variant spellings through regular expression searches, [and] on Latin lemmas."

Northvegr (http://www.northwegr.org/main.php) is a site whose purpose is "to act as a freely available resource for adherents of the Northern spiritual faith of the Northern Way and for all those who live by the pre-Christian spiritual faiths of Northern Europe" and "to promote, in general, Northern European cultural heritage" (it should be added that the authors of the site explicitly reject whatever racialist bias a reader might infer from such goals). Among the many texts and resources on this site, some more valuable than others, is an online Old English-to-English lexicon (http://www.northvegr.org/lore/oldenglish/index.php) with a fair number of entries for each letter.

The Bosworth-Toller Dictionary, originally digitized by Sean Crist, has been assembled using an adaptation of Ebind, a method for binding together digital page images using an SGML document type definition (http://beowulf.engl.uky.edu/~kiernan/BT/Bosworth-Toller.htm).



The Medieval Unicode Font Initiative (MUFI) (http://helmer.hit.uib.no/mufi/) is "a non-profit workgroup of scholars who would like to see a common solution to a problem felt by many medieval scholars: the encoding and display of special characters in Medieval texts written in the Latin alphabet." To this end, MUFI has organized and/or linked to a number of initiatives designed to develop fonts under the new Unicode font standard (http://www.unicode.org), including Runic and Old English fonts. MUFI has also recently published version 1.0 of their character recommendation (http://www.ub.uib.no/elpub/2003/r/000001), "a recommendation for the selection of characters from the Unicode Standard and for characters to be allocated to the Private Use Area." This recommendation is an attempt to coordinate the assignation of special characters to the same slots in all medieval Unicode fonts.

Peter Baker has developed a beta version of his Junicode (http://www.engl.virginia.edu/OE/junicode/junicode.html), a Unicode-based font for medievalists that (as of this writing) contains 1434 characters, and a wide range of specialty characters (runes, macrons, punctes, diacriticals, scribal abbreviations, etc.) germane to Anglo-Saxon paleography. As Unicode also allows for the combination of diacriticals with preexistent characters, the potential for accurate representation of Anglo-Saxon writing is impressive. Baker provides versions for Macintosh, Windows, and Linux users. Junicode is, in effect, designed to replace his older Old English font package (http://www.engl.virginia.edu/OE/index.html).


Language and Literary Resources

The York-Toronto-Helsinki Parsed Corpus of Old English Prose (YCOE) is "a 1.5 million word syntactically-annotated corpus of Old English prose texts created at the University of York" and is freely available for non-commercial use (http://www-users.york.ac.uk/~lang22/YCOE/YcoeHome.htm). The text-files of the corpus are obtainable from the Oxford Text Archive. The Corpus uses the search engine CorpusSearch that is also used by its sister corpus, the Penn-Helsinki Parsed Corpus of Middle English, and allows for a wide range of sophisticated and flexible searches of the Old English Corpus.

The Fontes Anglo-Saxonici Project has published a stand-alone version of its Database for use on Windows OS computers. The project has an ongoing commitment "to identify all written sources which were incorporated, quoted, translated or adapted anywhere in English or Latin texts which were written in Anglo-Saxon England (i.e. England to 1066), or by Anglo-Saxons in other countries." Though the Fontes project has offered a free and continuously updated database online since 1999 (see http://fontes.english.ox.ac.uk/index.html) the stand-alone version offers a number of new features, including summary results, more detail on records, the ability to see a range of records at the same time, a redesigned and more "transparent" access and results, and a copy of the full database (in MS Access 97). The standalone application can be downloaded on-line or ordered at no cost as a CD-ROM. For more information, see http://fontes.english.ox.ac.uk/StandaloneVersion.html.

In 2002, the Rawlinson Center for Anglo-Saxon Studies at the Medieval Institute, Western Michigan University, published an online introduction to its Sources of Anglo-Saxon Literary Culture (SASLC) (http://www.wmich.edu/medieval/research/saslc/volone), which includes an introduction to the electronic edition by way of entries for Abbo of Fleury and selections from the Acta Sanctorum. Elsewhere, SASLC entries for Ambrose in Anglo-Saxon England with Pseudo-Ambrose and Ambrosiaster (by Dabney Anderson Bankert, Jessica Wegmann, and Charles D. Wright) may be found at http://www.mun.ca/Ansaxdat/ambrose.

The Rawlinson Center has mounted a website dedicated to Edmund of East Anglia (http://www.wmich.edu/medieval/research/rawl/edmund) which contains images from the twelfth-century MS Pierpont Morgan Library M.736, Abbo of Fleury's Passio, Ælfric's Passio, the Anglo-Norman anonymous passion as well as translations, manuscript images from Cotton Julius E.vii, a biography of Abbo, and a link to the SASLC entry on Abbo of Fleury.

Richard Harris's Concordance to the Proverbs and Proverbial Materials in the Old Icelandic Sagas (http://www.usask.ca/english/icelanders) is designed as an aid to studying "how proverbs and their rhetorical relatives are used in written saga narratives and what that may indicate about paremiological aspects of the oral family saga." Though this site does not deal with Old English per se, the site might serve Anglo-Saxonists; Harris notes that "the trend of such books as those by Susan Deskis and Carolyn Larrington suggest the usefulness of comparative study in this area between Old English and Old Norse literature."

Oxford University's Old English Literature: A Hypertext Coursepack, developed by Katharine Lindsay and Stuart Lee, is "designed to help you study the primary texts that have been included on the first year Old English Course in preparation for the paper 5 and paper 6 exams." Even those not currently sweating over these assignments will admire their online version of the Dream of the Rood (http://acdt.oucs.ox.ac.uk/anglo/rood/). Due to copyright restrictions a similar edition of "The Battle of Maldon" is not accessible outside Oxford University, but an excellent set of supporting resources is, including audio recordings, images of the battle site, contextual essays, and a translation (http://acdt.oucs.ox.ac.uk/anglo/maldon_resources/maldon.htm).



Version 2.0 of Kevin Kiernan's Electronic Beowulf (http://www.uky.edu/~kiernan/eBeowulf) has been released by British Library Publications, with compatibility upgrades for the latest browsers and operating systems (including Netscape 7.x and Internet Explorer 5.x on the PC and Netscape 7.1 and Safari 1.0 on Mac OS X). Additionally, "version 2.0 corrects some mistakes in the text and glossary, updates the bibliography, and adds new functions, including search results that link to the corresponding folios, and easier searching of the entire glossary."

Benjamin Slade's Beowulf site (http://www.heorot.dk) continues to grow, with the addition of his essay on dating the poem with respect to Kaluza's law, and his full Old English glossary for Beowulf and Finnsburh, complete with line numbers, grammatical data, compound forms, and etymologies.

The Representative Poetry Online project from University of Toronto provides Beowulf online in Old English with an interlineal translation (Gummere's 1910 version) (http://eir.library.utoronto.ca/rpo/display/poem19.html).

Robert Hasenfratz continues to update his online Beowulf Bibliography (http://english.uconn.edu/medieval/beowulf.html). It now spans the years 1979–2001, though the latest few years are still in various stages of completion. See also Kevin Kiernan's Beowulf Bibliography for the years 1990–2001 (http://www.uky.edu/~kiernan/eBeowulf/beobib90.htm), adapted from Carl Berkhout's Annual OEN Bibliography.


Texts and Manuscripts

An updated and searchable version of Paul Oskar Kristeller's fundamental reference work Latin Manuscript Books Before 1600: A List of Printed Catalogues and Unpublished Inventories of Extant Collections (5th ed., rvsd & enlarged by Sigrid Krämer; MGH Hilfsmittel 13. Munich, 2003) has been placed online at http://www.mgh-bibliothek.de/kristeller/.

Cambridge University Library (http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/digitallibrary.htm) has made available online facsimiles of two manuscripts relevant to Anglo-Saxon studies: the illuminated tenth-century Gospel Book of Deer (CUL Ii.6.32), which may be viewed in its entirety but only in mini-ature (larger-scale images are accessible from computers in the CUL Manuscript Reading Room), and an illustrated Anglo-Norman verse Life of St Edward the Confessor (CUL Ee.3.59), whose individual folios, often richly decorated, may be scanned and zoomed to your heart's content.

The Early Manuscripts at Oxford University project (http://image.ox.ac.uk/) provides "access to over 80 early manuscripts now in institutions associated with the University of Oxford," including several important Anglo-Saxon manuscripts (such as MS Junius 11) and Anglo-Norman texts. The site allows one to peruse individual folios of each manuscript, either in thumbnail or in large format. Unfortunately, the combination of large image files (generally 4 MB or more) and slow servers often makes it difficult to use the site effectively.

A description, along with discussions of technology and editing methods, of Kevin Kiernan's new Electronic Boethius project is now online at http://beowulf.engl.uky.edu/~kiernan/eBoethius/mainpage.html. According to Kiernan, "This image-based edition of Cotton Otho A.vi will … provide unprecedented access to the text within its manuscript context as well as the first modern edition of Alfred's prosimetrical translation. An electronic edition of Alfred's Boethius providing access to all the surviving manuscripts will furnish a treasure-trove for new research." [See Malcolm Godden's report in OEN 37.1 for information on a parallel project.]

Among the riches of The Latin Library are the full Latin version of Asser's Life of King Alfred (http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/asserius.html) and numerous works by Alcuin (http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/alcuin.html). Texts on this site are presented plainly, without explanation, annotation, apparatus or apology.

In what appears to be a work in progress, Janice Safran has placed online a short excerpt from the OE Version of the Gospels, Mt 1:18-25, with text and glossary (http://people.cornell.edu/pages/jks6/MidwinterGloss.html).

Stuart Lee has made a short digital film of the Exeter Book Ruin, using a soundtrack of the Old English text, music by the Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge, and a modern setting in an old factory. He has provided several sizes and encodings for the film; smaller versions should run on older computers, while the 36 MB version is the highest quality. All can be found (along with many other films) at http://secret.oucs.ox.ac.uk/dv/film.html.

A complete, high-resolution facsimile of the seventh-century Codex Amiatinus (Florence, Biblioteca Medicae Laurenziana Amiatino 1) was published in 2000 by the Società Internazionale per lo Studio del Medioevo Latino (SISMEL), Edizioni del Galluzzo, but seems to have become available only recently (ISBN 88-87027-94-3). Its price (€243) may place it out of the reach of most individual scholars, but it is by any measure a handsome production which should be recommended to those responsible for library acquisitions. Ordering information can be found at http://www.sismel.it/it/frame.htm.

[Modesty has presumably prevented Professor Foys from mentioning that his own work, The Bayeux Tapestry on CD-ROM (Scholarly Digital Editions; Boydell & Brewer, 2003), was selected as a Choice Outstanding Academic Title Award for 2003. The publisher notes that the CD-ROM "presents full images of the tapestry itself, magnifiable so that individual stitches can be seen, with images of three facsimiles, and of many related artifacts … accompanied by authoritative translations of seventeen historical sources concerning the events of 1066, maps, genealogies, bibliography, and full commentary." Simon Keynes praises the "brilliantly-conceived array of supporting material" and comments that this digital edition "transforms the way in which students and teachers alike will be able to approach, to use and to enjoy one of the most remarkable of all our sources for the Middle Ages." Anyone who has followed the progress of this work over the past four years will not be disappointed at the result, and both the publisher and the author should be commended for offering it at the reasonable price of $60/£40. For further information and ordering, see http://www.boydell.co.uk/bay1.htm or http://www.sd-editions.com/bayeux/index.html. -ed.]



In 2003, the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists (ISAS) launched its website (http://www.isas.us/) which contains "resources for those interested in English history, archaeology, literature, language, religion, society, and numismatics between the years c. 450 and 1100 AD," as well as a section for graduate students in Old English and medieval studies.



Peter Baker's Introduction to Old English (Oxford: Blackwell) has been also published online as a free resource by the Rawlinson Center (http://www.wmich.edu/medieval/research/rawl/IOE/index.html). This text, which introduces the elements of Old English in sixteen chapters, is designed to be used in conjunction with the exercises in Baker's Old English Aerobics site (http://www.engl.virginia.edu/OE/OEA/index.html). "Designed for students whose interests are primarily literary or historical rather than linguistic … the book assumes as little as possible about the student's knowledge of traditional grammar and experience of learning languages."

Murray McGillivray offers Old English in two Internet-based courses (http://www.ucalgary.ca/~mmcgilli/). As he notes, "students who register in the Internet versions of the courses do not need to be on the University of Calgary campus at any time, so the courses can be 'attended' from anywhere in the world where there is an Internet connection."


Important Indices

Most of the following resources are not actually new, but because of their utility each year's Circol-wyrde 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. fewer "dead" links, though these seem inevitable to some degree) as those listed below. If you are looking for information on a particular aspect of Anglo-Saxon language, history, culture or literature, start with these trusted indices. Note: the addresses for some of these resources have changed recently, so updated URLs have been given.

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 online texts and editions, and a broad range of teaching materials, other indices, and contact information for Old English Societies. ORB encourages submissions, and directs users to http://orb.rhodes.edu/text/about.html for further information.

Ansaxdat (http://www.mun.ca/Ansaxdat/), the full-text database for the Listserv discussion group ANSAXNET, allows one to search the archive of thousands of postings from the past fifteen years for discussion of specific topics in Anglo-Saxon studies.

The on-line journal The Heroic Age maintains a sizable list 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, Old English Literature (http://labyrinth.georgetown.edu/; choose "Old English" and "All fields") provides a basic, but lengthy, set of Old English links. The Labyrinth's alphabetical index to Old English poetry (http://www.georgetown.edu/labyrinth/library/oe/alpha.html) provides quick access to almost all Old English poems. Additionally, Labyrinth has indexed its resources in a database, allowing for quick and concise searching of its architecture.

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.