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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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Brungen of Bearwe: Ploughing Common Furrows in Exeter Book Riddle 21, The Dream of the Rood, and the Æcerbot Charm

Brungen of Bearwe: Ploughing Common Furrows in Exeter Book Riddle 21, The Dream of the Rood, and the Æcerbot Charm

Chapter:
(p.144) 7 Brungen of Bearwe: Ploughing Common Furrows in Exeter Book Riddle 21, The Dream of the Rood, and the Æcerbot Charm
Source:
Trees and Timber in the Anglo-Saxon World
Author(s):

Michael D. J. Bintley

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199680795.003.0007

This paper argues Exeter Book Riddle 21, The Dream of the Rood, and the Æcerbot 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, Æcerbot Charm, plough, cross, religion

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