Top Ten Facts About Beowulf for Kids

There are many interesting facts about Beowulf – here are our favorites:

  1. There is only one medieval manuscript of Beowulf. It is believed that this copy was written in the early 11th century. The document has been preserved despite its age and surviving a fire in 1731. The manuscript is now kept safe at the British Library in London, where it remains to this day. It has also been digitized, which means it can be viewed directly online!
  2. Beowulf has been called an inspiration by many fantasy and epic authors. It is one of the oldest examples of the genre and how it follows the ‘hero’s journey’ method of storytelling. You can see traces of Beowulf in the modern-day as it has inspired many authors.
  3. An interesting linguistic Beowulf fact is that Wiglaf in Swedish means ‘remnant of courage. In the epic poem, Wiglaf is a great warrior who comes to Beowulf’s aid in his fight against the dragon. Although he is not as powerful as the hero, he helps Beowulf defeat Grendel and defends him from an attack by a mighty dragon.
  4. It is believed that the Sutton Hoo ship has connections to the descendants of Wiglaf. The burial site was discovered in 1939 and contained a large bronze helmet that the Anglo-Saxon people of England had crafted. This spectacular find is now displayed at the British Museum in London.
  5. The copy of Beowulf that now lives in the British Library has fire damage because, in 1731, a fire at Ashburnham house (where it was previously kept) nearly consumed it. It survived, however, and was later acquired by the library in 1823.
  6. Our favorite fun fact about Beowulf is this: the poem comprises 3,182 lines! It has also been translated into many languages, including modern English.
  7. Beowulf was a prince of his native Geatland, part of modern-day Sweden. It is said that the people of Sweden and Denmark were sworn enemies, and Beowulf killed a relative of his king to marry his wife. However, it’s also said that his people deeply trusted him and had many great victories for them during his reign as prince.
  8. If you’re looking for a biblical Beowulf fact: Grendel is said to be a descendant of Cain (from the bible). She is trying to get revenge for Cain, who was cast out of heaven for killing his brother Abel (who he thought had more power than him).
  9. It is a hot topic for debate between some people whether the story of Beowulf was passed down and told verbally (from memory). Some believe it is possible, given that it is very old, but there are no sources to suggest this was the case.
  10. The poem combines fiction, legend, and history. There are historical references linking Beowulf to a hero of the tale called Finn MacCool, who was renowned for his strength and bravery. There are also links to the story of Hrólfr Kraki, king of Denmark. Some scholars believe that Beowulf is based on this character rather than historical facts. While experts debate many Beowulf facts, one thing remains clear: Beowulf was a great hero who inspired many exciting tales for young adventurers to enjoy.
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