Trees in Anglo-Saxon England

October 2010
6 black and white, 18 line illustrations
322 pages
24.4x17.2 cm
Anglo-Saxon Studies
Library eBook
Boydell Press
BISAC HIS037010, LIT011000

Trees in Anglo-Saxon England

Literature, Lore and Landscape

Della Hooke


Hardback out of stock

eBook for Handhelds
A powerful exploration of trees in both the real and the imagined Anglo-Saxon landscape.
Trees played a particularly important part in the rural economy of Anglo-Saxon England, both for wood and timber and as a wood-pasture resource, with hunting gaining a growing cultural role. But they are also powerful icons in many pre-Christian religions, with a degree of tree symbolism found in Christian scripture too. This wide-ranging book explores both the "real", historical and archaeological evidence of trees and woodland, and as they are depicted in Anglo-Saxon literature and legend. Place-name and charter references cast light upon the distribution of particular tree species (mapped here in detail for the first time) and also reflect upon regional character in a period that was fundamental for the evolution of the present landscape.

Della Hooke is Honorary Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Research in Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Birmingham.

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Table of Contents

Trees and groves in pre-Christian belief
Christianity and the sacred tree
Trees in literature
Trees, mythology and national consciousness: into the future
The nature and distribution of Anglo-Saxon woodland
The use of Anglo-Saxon woodland: place-names and charter evidence
Trees in the landscape
Trees of wood-pasture and 'Ancient Countryside'
Trees of wet places in early medieval records: alder and willow
Trees of open/planned countryside
Other trees noted in charters and early place-names
Trees not readily apparent in the early medieval written record


Della Hooke's book is the first large-scale treatment of its subject, and could hardly be surpassed in its patient and thorough accumulation of data. Lovers of trees and students of early England have equal reason to be grateful to her. TIME AND MIND [Ronald Hutton]

Offers much useful information for medievalists in general and especially for those in the relatively new field of medieval environmental history. . An excellent synthesis. SPECULUM

[This] remarkable study of trees in literature, lore and landscape is most welcome. WORCESTERSHIRE RECORDER

An enjoyable read and [...] a useful addition to our understanding of pre-Medieval landscapes. SCOTTISH FORESTY

Well documented and clearly written, with illustrative figures, wide ranging examples, and illuminating quotations. WESTERN FOLKLORE

The book restates the significance of the woodland resource by considering aspects which are not usually discussed and so deepens our understanding of the Anglo-Saxon landscape. ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW

[W]ill have long-tern value as a guide and quarry for those who seek to investigate their own local woodland history, or to integrate the subjects dealt with here into a wider study of how woodland was used a thousand to fifteen hundred years ago. MEDIEVAL SETTLEMENT RESEARCH

To look at any tree after reading [the] book is to have a clearer grasp of what someone might have made of it (literally and metaphorically) a thousand years ago. SALON
An enormously detailed and authoritative study [which] has much to offer Anglo-Saxon scholarship. [...] An excellent volume. LANDSCAPE HISTORY
[ A] well-written and thoughtfully constructed book. MEDIEVAL ARCHAEOLOGY
[A] deeply researched and engagingly written book. THE MEDIEVAL REVIEW

Author Bio

Della Hooke is an Honorary Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Research in Arts and Social Sciences, University of Birmingham (FSA: Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London).

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