Who Were Beowulf and Grendel?
Beowulf is an Old English epic poem consisting of 3182 alliterative lines. It is the oldest surviving long poem and one of the most important works of Old English literature.
It has been argued by scholars that Beowulf was actually composed in East Anglia. The old East Anglian word ‘grindle’ means a drain or ditch, and Grendel haunted the marshes.
You can explore the story through a 1km Beowulf and Grendel Adventure Trail - the first of its kind in the UK - at West Stow Country Park, next to West stow Anglo Saxon Village.
The trail features six sculptures inspired by the ancient Anglo-Saxon saga as well as the unique area of British countryside, The Brecks, in which it is set.
Grendel’s Mother, created by artist Andy Manning, arrived by boat to take up residence in the Country Park’s lake, behind the main sculpture forming the entrance to her underwater Lair.
The story of Beowulf is set in Scandinavia in the 6th century. Beowulf, a hero of the Geats, comes to the aid of Hrothgar, the king of the Danes, whose mead hall in Heorot has been under attack by a monster known as Grendel.
After Beowulf slays him, Grendel's mother attacks the hall and is then also defeated. Victorious, Beowulf goes home to Geatland (Götaland in modern Sweden) and becomes king of the Geats. Fifty years later, Beowulf defeats a dragon, but is mortally wounded in the battle.
After his death, his attendants cremate his body and erect a tower on a headland in his memory.
The Trail, along with new information points and Trail Packs, offers a fascinating and rare insight into one of the most important pieces of Old English literature, as well as the life of the Anglo-Saxons and the environment in which they - and we now live.
The Beowulf and Grendel Trail at West Stow Country Park
Photo: Christopher Morris
The Beowulf and Grendel Trail was created through partnership between West Suffolk Council, The Friends of West Stow, the Breaking New Ground Project, The West Stow Fishing Syndicate, Bury Schools Partnership, The Heart of Oak Company and six Suffolk artists.
The Trail consists of: The Beowulf Carving, The Anglo-Saxon Ship, The Beast Grendel, The Lair of Grendel’s Mother, The Heath Dragon, The Burnt Hall - all created by Suffolk artists - and which have been given time to merge with the natural environment.
Grendel’s Mother, whose head can be seen emerging from the lake, is sponsored by the West Stow Fishing Syndicate, which has 80 members.
Keep an eye out for carp! The area of the lake in which it is anchored is now a sanctuary for these fish.
Interactive Trail Pack
Purchase a trail pack to enhance your trail experience including quizzes, colouring sheets, rune challenges and more.
Complete the rune quest and bring it back to the visitor centre to receive a prize and even get a picture with Grendel's arm to mark the completion of your adventure!
For more information, speak to reception in the vistor centre upon arrival.
To find out more visit https://www.weststow.org/Country-Park/beowulf-and-grendel-trail.cfm
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