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Valesse 03-23-2012 03:26 AM

Middle Earth and Medieval England
Brief as my visits have become as of late, I must say before I go any further into this post that I quite miss the Barrow-Downs and the people who convene here. While doing some expeditious late-night article hunting I came across a little something that combined two things I hold quite close and felt the urge to share it with a community I felt might enjoy it.

The article is a discussion about Tolkien's desire and sources from Medieval England to frame the world of Middle Earth. While a great many of you might see it as 'old business', you might find reading over actually quite enjoyable as it does cite several sources and give specific examples. I would be delighted to hear the thoughts, finds and musings of others on this particular subject.

Without further adue: Middle Earth and Medieval England

(You will need some program that allows you to read .pdf files through your browser to view this article.)

mark12_30 03-23-2012 06:15 AM

Thanks! Looks like fun. Twenty Five Pages? Guess it'll take more than one cup of tea!! :cool:

Mithalwen 03-23-2012 07:37 AM

Maybe more than one pot but interesting and lovely to have a blast from the past!!!

Lalwendė 03-23-2012 02:16 PM

Who is the author of this article?

I always note how commentators pick up straight away on the influence of Cynewulf for the words 'Middle-earth' and don't follow this up with an even earlier origin (by around 200 years) in Caedmon's Hymn:


nu scylun hergan hefaenricaes uard
metudęs maecti end his modgidanc
uerc uuldurfadur swe he uundra gihwaes
eci dryctin or astelidę
he aerist scop aelda barnum
heben til hrofe haleg scepen.
tha middungeard moncynnęs uard
eci dryctin ęfter tiadę
firum foldu frea allmectig
In modern English, because Northumbrian is a bit difficult, the following line perfectly describes Tolkien's creation:


Then the middle earth, the guardian of mankind
the eternal lord, afterwards appointed
the lands for men
However, I would strongly disagree with the following:

A chief reason that Tolkien felt a certain lack of folklore for his culture is the fact that his homeland, England, can at times have a lack of identity.
England lacks only a grand myth cycle, it has no lack of either folklore or regional identity.

Valesse 03-23-2012 04:08 PM

One "Jonathan Massullo", Lalwendė. I am without any other information as to who this person is.

I completely agree with you about that 'lack of English cultural identity' comment, I believe he might have been seduced by his own poetic license by that part of the article.

From what we know about Tolkien's life it's clear that he could have pulled the term "Middle Earth" out of either considering his 'day job' would have put him in the path of both works. I do tend to prefer the idea of him taking it from Caedmon's Hymn rather than Cynewulf as it is, in my opinion, 'more his style reading' and as you pointed out Lalwendė, uncannily close to the Middle Earth this forum is most familiar with.

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