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The Mead Hall: Feasting in Anglo-Saxon England Paperback – 9 Nov 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Anglo-Saxon Books; 2nd edition (9 Nov. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1898281548
  • ISBN-13: 978-1898281542
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 17.8 x 26 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 363,199 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Synopsis

Pollington has written and spoken widely on Anglo-Saxon language, literature, society, and culture. Here he describes feasting and society, the mead hall as living and ritual space, food and feasting equipment, positions of power, and entertainment. He includes a glossary with pronunciations, and sample depictions of feasting in Old English poems. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Gary Hewitt on 22 Oct. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent book. There is a lot of historical facts about the English way of life before and after christianity which makes a nice change. Not only this point but a nicely written book with not a lot of complete nonsense.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Janika Hurri on 1 Sept. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Like other books which I have read by Pollington, this is highly accessible, many-sided (yet not rambling but well-compiled), very well-researched, and not taking too many liberties in interpreting it's archeological and literary sources. Very much recommended reading for anyone interested in Anglo-Saxon life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr. N. G. Laven on 7 Nov. 2014
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great
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Time well spent 19 Mar. 2004
By Rick A. Riedlinger - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Focusing on the Anglo-Saxon institution of the mead-hall, the author leads us to a view of what may have been a basic building block of Germanic culture.
While culling his evidence primarily from the wealth of A/S literature (which he translates himself), Pollington enhances his material with data derived from archeological finds. The accuracy of his presentation sets his book squarely in the history/anthropology section of one's library.
The book is an exploration of what these early Anglo-Saxon people were like and how the mead-hall was a reflection of their society. The book explains a Germanic culture and worldview in simple, concise and elegant terms with easily followed arguments. This is added to by a pleasing writing style.
Few books of late have left me feeling my time was so well spent after the reading.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
A marvelous, must-have reference on mead-halls and feasting halls 11 May 2009
By Whitt Patrick Pond - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Stephen Pollington's The Mead-Hall: Feasting in Anglo-Saxon England, is a marvelous resource for anyone interested in the role of mead-halls in Anglo-Saxon England in particular or of feasting-halls in early Germanic culture in general. Pollington draws on a variety of resources from the literary to the historical to the archeological to give the most complete picture of everything you could possibly want to know about mead-halls. In particular, he always includes the literary references with both the original Old English text and the modern English translation, which is particularly useful in gaining a knowledge of the exact terms used and what they meant for everything involved in mead-hall culture. Pollingon also includes a number of well-drawn illustrations of mead-hall artifacts from actual archeological finds which help the reader to visualize Anglo-Saxon crafts and styles.

It would be impossible to lay out everything there is to learn from this book. The only way to even approximate it is to simply give you a partial look at the table of contents, which in itself gives you an idea of the breadth and depth of work this book encompasses:

1. Feasting and Society
- A Window on Early English Society
- Feasting in the Hall
- Meals and Mealtimes
- Symbel
...
- Oaths and Boasts
...
- Feasts, Marriages and Alliances
2. Living Space: The Hall in Reality
- The Hall and its Settlement
- Construction & Layout
- Building Techniques
...
- Hearth
- Seating
...
- Hall Development in Anglo-Saxon England
3. Ritual Space: The Hall in Ideology
- The Hall as the Ideal Dwelling
...
- The Joys of the Hall
4. Food and Feasting Equipment
- Consumables
- Food
- Drink
- Tableware
...
- Drinking Vessels
...
- Cauldrons & Hanging Bowls
- Textiles & Clothing
- Female Dress
- Male Dress
- Table Linen, Tapestry & Embroidery
5. Positions of Power
- Lord (Hlaford)
- Lady (Hlafdige)
- Household (Hlafaetan)
- Pyle
- Flyting and Verbal Duelling
- Unferp and The Role of the Pyle
- Poet (Scop)
- Hall Attendants
6. Entertainment
- Storytelling & Poetry
- Music
- Harp or Lyre
- Riddles
- Board games
Appendices
- Hall and Feasting Themes in Old English Verse
- Some Old English Sources
- The Structure and Origins of the Warband

In addition to the wealth of detail presented, Pollington writes in a eminently readable style that makes the information accessible to both the layman and the researcher. For example this bit from the section on gift-giving:

"Gift-giving was a central act in Germanic society, cementing the bonds among the free classes. It was neither random, spontaneous, nor purely emotional, but rather was strictly controlled by rules of reciprocation. Warlords handed out weapons to their followers, but the weapons were not 'given away', they were held by the hearth-troop to be used in defence of the leader.... Broadly speaking, when any man gave a gift he expected a return, a counter-gift. What form that return might take would depend on the relative social status of giver and recipient. A gift to a superior would be rewarded by favour; to an equal, by counter-gift; to an inferior, by service. The concept survives into our own times."

I learned an enormous amount from this book and found it a fascinating and enjoyable read as well. Highly, highly recommended to anyone interested in the subject.
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
A reference must... 5 Mar. 2004
By Richard L. Windau - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The book was mentioned on the Anglo-Saxon Heathenry email list (I am a member). I ordered it based on the initial review by another member. My thought and that of many is that it should be a book that should set next to the Poetic Edda (in importance). The information is very well formated. It is easy to read and understand. The joke was passed around that now we could get rid of Bauschatz. If you be an Anglo-phile or Asa-tru this is a very good book. I cannot reccomend more highly.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Important contribution 10 Mar. 2009
By Christopher R. Travers - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Pollington has done it again. This work explores the Mead-Hall and its connection to old Germanic and Anglo-Saxon culture. This work is extremely important as it relates to the structure of old English and old Germanic society, ritual space, food, and domestic life.

The work is well thought out and presented. I would highly recommend this book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Stephen Pollington is an excellent writer who has an uncanny ability to write in ... 3 April 2015
By Marcus Ursus - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Stephen Pollington is an excellent writer who has an uncanny ability to write in a down-to-earth style and not diminish the complexity of the knowledge being related. This is a wonderful book on the subject.
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