HEOROT: THE MEAD-HALL (Illustration) Ancient Places and/or Civilizations Awesome Radio - Narrated Stories Film Geography Legends and Legendary People Poetry Social Studies Fiction

Mead halls, like Heorot, were communal places where kings, like Hrothgar, met with their warriors (among other things). This image depicts a reconstructed mead hall—from the ring castle Fyrkat near Hobro, Denmark—as it appeared on September 14, 2002. Photo by Malene Thyssen; online via Wikimedia Commons. License: CC BY SA-3.0


Hrothgar, according to the Beowulf story, had a great hall which he called "Heorot." The king and his warriors would gather in the hall to eat, plan battles, hear entertainers and drink mead (an alcoholic beverage made from fermented honey and water). Sometimes they would also sleep there.

Danish archaeologists have uncovered such long halls in the Lejre area of Zealand, the island on which the country's capital - Copenhagen - is located.

Excavation layers at one site reveal two different long halls, built over each other, likely used between the years 660 to 890. Not far away is athird long hall - from about the time in which the Beowulf epic takes place.

If we were able to step back in time, and could inspect a Danish long hall, what would we see? Reconstructions, based on archaeological findings, help us to visualize them. Fyrkat (near Hobro, Denmark) is such a place.

Although its re-creation is based on a building post-dating Heorot by more than four hundred years, Fyrkat gives us a sense of what these gathering places were like. So does Yeavering and its reconstructed long hall.

Once the location of a Saxon royal palace in Northumbria, which scholars believe post-dates the events in Beowulf by just a century, Yeavering is one of Britain's most important archaeological sites.

Thanks to Northumberland's County Council, we can also take a virtual tour inside Yeavering's great hall as Anglo-Saxon thegns ("thanes") and their king relax around a fire.  (Be patient with the slow-loading video link.)

Might this have been the type of scene, envisioned by the Beowulf storyteller, when Grendel the monster entered Heorot to attack his victims?

And ... parenthetically ... was Grendel a Scandinavian troll?

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Nov 01, 2007

Updated Last Revision: Sep 17, 2019

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"HEOROT: THE MEAD-HALL" AwesomeStories.com. Nov 01, 2007. Jan 18, 2020.
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