The Heroic Age

Issue 6

Spring 2003

A Letter from the Editor


Welcome to the sixth issue of the Heroic Age.  This issue has been greatly anticipated, and is quite late, but at long last we are pleased to present the issue to you.  Rather like the Beowulf manuscript which survived ten centuries, two fires, rough handling, and unfortunate care-giving in the nineteenth century, this issue has also faced its share of physical obstacles including lost hard drives, CD backups that suddenly become unreadable, authors and editors making major, life-changing moves, and other difficulties that have become obstacles to completing the task.  But like the manuscript, it is the opinion of this editor that we have the pleasure of presenting you with an issue that includes several articles of solid scholarship that will prove to be worth the wait.

This issue was conceived a little over two years ago in preparing sessions for the 2001 International Congress on Medieval Studies hosted annually now by Western Michigan University's Medieval Institute in Kalamazoo, MI.  The guiding idea for the session was to explore the relationships between Insular communities and the Continent in this period.  What I expected to receive were papers on literary issues, economic papers or something of the like.  For the session, this is in fact what we did receive.  But when we extended the invitation for the issue beyond the Congress, the papers received were surprising in their breadth.  In this issue we have papers dealing with Carolingian politics, three papers that deal with Insular saints' relationships on the continent, an onomastic paper, and a paper dealing with Anglo-Saxon military equipment. 

Jeffrey Wetherhill presents us with an examination of St. Columba.  It is said of the saint by his biographer that his name and influence extended even to Rome itself.  Wetherhill examines whether this claim can be substantiated.  W. Julian Edens considers the 12th century life of St. Gildas which relates that the Gildas left Britain, went to Rome and there faced a dragon, and eventually on his way home was detoured to northern France to found a monastic community there in exile.  Edens attempts to provide a historical background for the events of the life, demonstrating that it could be based on historical fact and is not merely a late fabrication.  Following Edens is Henry Gough-Cooper who presents a study of the sixth century Gonothigernus, a bishop in Senlis, France.  Gonothigernus has been identified as the legendary Kentigern, and Gough-Cooper undertakes a detailed examination of personal and place names in order to determine whether this identification is a sound one.  Brad Eden closes out our papers on the sixth century with an investigation of the Otherworld in the mission to the English by St. Gregory the Great and his missionary St. Augustine of Canterbury.  Michelle Ziegler turns the issues attention to the late seventh century with her account of St. Willibrord and his mission to Frisia.  It has been assumed that Willibrord operated in Frisia in the shadow of another important personage, Wilfrid.  Ziegler presents solid evidence that questions this assumption.  In her paper on Anglo-Saxon dispute settlements, Deanna Forsman takes on the curious episode of Eardwulf of Northumbria and Cenwulf of Mercia in the early ninth century who according to later historians had an external agent settle their dispute.  Forsman explores the identity of this agent and a possible connection to the Carolingian court.  Finally, Paolo de Vingo presents a survey of Anglo-Saxon military equipment and its relationship to continental equipment.

In addition to these fine articles, our regular features are also continued in this issue.  In our Forum this issue Howard Wiseman provides an extended book review of David Howlett's The Dates for Gildas and Badon in Cambro-Latin Compositions: Their Competence and Craftsmanship. Wiseman finds the methodology of Howlett's book and its conclusions problematic.  Jeffrey Wetherhill, one of our authors, also offers his comments on distance education in the Electronic Medievalia and some welcome web notices from Renee Trilling of the University of Notre Dame round out the section.  Our links page has been completely overhauled yet again, many links removed and many more added.  I've decided to mark new additions by a slight change in color so that long time readers may more easily see what is new.  It is with sorrow that the links page has to remove some promising projects that are now defunct, most notably Argos, the search engine for the Middle Ages and the Fontes project for Anglo-Saxon literary sources. 

I would also like to take this opportunity to welcome a new regular column to our journal.  Michel Aaij,  offers "Continental Business," an overview of continental scholarship on various topics and issues in our field.  Too few of us working in the United States, Canada, or the Far East for example have opportunity to keep up on continental journals and scholarship, especially when the primary language is not our own.  In this first column Aaij reviews two books on St. Boniface in Germany and the Netherlands.

Finally our field has lost many greats since the last Heroic Age issue.  We pay our respects to those giants on whose shoulders we stand in the In Memoriam section. 

In conclusion, I would like to thank all our editors, all of our contributors, and most of all, all of our readers, for patience and for the quality of work that continues to be contributed to this journal.


L.J. Swain


Table of Contents


Copyright © L.J. Swain, 2003. All rights reserved.

This edition copyright © The Heroic Age, 2003. All rights reserved.