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Trees and Timber in the Anglo-Saxon World$
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Michael D. J. Bintley and Michael G. Shapland

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199680795

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199680795.001.0001

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Breaking the Mould: Solving the Old English Riddle 12 as Wudu ‘Wood’

Breaking the Mould: Solving the Old English Riddle 12 as Wudu ‘Wood’

(p.158) 8 Breaking the Mould: Solving the Old English Riddle 12 as Wudu ‘Wood’
Trees and Timber in the Anglo-Saxon World

Pirkko Anneli Koppinen

Oxford University Press

Charm make use of a shared symbolic vocabulary derived from a common ideology of regeneration. These texts may reveal elements of religious beliefs pre-dating the Anglo-Saxon conversion that subsequently became inculturated into the Latin liturgy underpinning later Old English poetry. In both Riddle 21 and The Dream of the Rood, physical and spiritual sustenance are produced with the assistance of a timber object (a plough and a cross) whose origin as a living tree is emphasized. Similar ideas are preserved in the Æcerbot Charm (the ‘charm for unfruitful land’), a text that outlines a composite Christian ritual preserving elements of folk-magic together with accompanying Old English verse.

Keywords:   riddle 21, dream of the rood, cerbot charm, plough, cross, religion

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