Anglo Saxon History Romans

Poetry Van at Fargo Village for the BBC Strong Language Event

Today I went to Fargo Village to buy some books for some work I am going to start. When I got there my good friend was busy trying to buy petrol which during the current crisis (not crisis) is difficult. Whilst enjoying a cup of tea and a cake I saw this poetry van. The Poetry Van serves poems whilst you wait. I waited and waited and eventually I was “served”. The poet who wrote for me wrote a poem about the blinding of Vortigern by the Jutes after he betrayed them.

On my other post I have discussed the poem itself and have concluded that it is a very fine poem, written in fifteen minutes by a man who would normally spend days and blood over a single line. In my Jack Russell post I have not discussed the historical elements.

I think that Lewis is a very good man who dealt with an autistic obsessive very well indeed. The first thing he dealt with this morning was me telling him about the Frisken Massacre, the withdrawal of the Roman Legions from Britannia, the civil war between Vortigern and Ambrosias and then Vortigern getting his eyes popped out at a dinner party in vengeance for his betrayal of the Jute leaders.

He stressed that it would not be an authentic account and it would be a poetic representation of my interested in the topic. He asked me my feelings and I am sorry to say that I couldn’t think of any, as I say I am autistic and rarely feel anything. but I am good with poetic licence and a critic of stagnant “authenticity”. Frankly it is a delightful poem that with all the energy of the metaphysical poets tells the story of the coming of the English. I do not particularly care that Lewis has confused Britannia with England, brought in the Goths or has anachronistically used that name or put potatoes in a 5th century feast. I know that when I post this in some groups there will be ‘rivit counters’ who will not be able to get over such details. To such people please retweet the link with your criticism, that will be very useful.

The point that I like about the Coming of the English is that we see that history turns on the decisions of individuals and their actions good or bad. We see a peace treaty destroyed by one unnamed person spilling a drink and not saying sorry which leads to the massacre of the Friskens. We see the Jutish princes return to Jutland and then have to leave to make money and enter the service of the Tyrant Vortigern and we see Vortigern growing concerned about the rise of the Jutes and lashing out only to be betrayed and blinded in revenge.

Thankyou Lewis for my poem.

Anglo Saxon CS Lewis Ettington giants Place names Tolkien

Ettington, the town of giants!

For my job I drive a lot. I am on the road at 6am to get to the school before 8am to teach anything from Stone Age to Victorians. Thanks to an excellent experience at the University of Wales Lampeter, I have a broad and rich knowledge of history which I can apply at a moments notice. I also have read too much Tolkien and CS Lewis. I like place names be they real or imaginary and one day as I drove through Ettington it rang a bell. The bell was with the Ettinmores which exist both in Narnia and Middle Earth. Both of which are occupied by Trolls and Giants.

Photo by Janko Ferlic on

So when I drove through the village of Ettington I got very excited. Ettin in an Old English word that only appears once in the literature. In the poem Beowulf the poet, Deor, lists all the evil creatures that are descended from Cain which include Orcs, Elves and Ettin. Ettin are usually translated as Giants so Ettington can be translated to the tun (town) of the Ettin (giants). Is it important? Probably not. Is it exciting? Absolutely.

I think it worth noting that I am sure the modern inhabitants of Ettington are probably lovely and not trolls or dangerous giants.