Archaeology Magazine

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Was Denmark’s Royal Hall the Setting for Beowulf?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK—Scholars think the seven late Iron Age buildings at Lejre, including a large hall that may have been used for feasting, inspired the Beowulf legend. The buildings, thought to have marked the site of the earliest Danish royal capital, were in use between A.D. 500 and 1000. The bones from hundreds of pigs, cows, sheep, goats, deer, chickens, ducks, and geese have been uncovered, along with a silver figure of the Nordic god Odin, jewelry, gold, and pottery. “For the first time, archaeology is giving us a glimpse of life in the key royal Danish site associated with the Beowulf legend,” said Tom Christensen of the Roskilde Museum and director of the Lejre project. The epic tale of Beowulf is thought to have been set in the fifth or sixth century, and brought to England by Anglo-Saxons in the eighth century.