The Voice that Brought Beowulf

Beowulf was recited long before it was first recorded by Medieval Poets, known as Scops (pronounced shops). Scops travelled to Mead Halls around the Anglo-Saxon country-side to recite their poems to the warriors who've returned from battle. As the warriors celebrate around mead and beer, the scops sing lines of praise for the heroes of battle, accompanying their melodies with a harp.

Scops were important in Anglo-Saxon society because they orally recorded historical events, forming reputations, both good and poor, for anyone to hear. It was an honor, though, to have a scop sing in one's praise or lament one's death. In the medieval period, it was believed that there was no greater honor than to be remembered. It was the way to immortality. Righteous kings were acclaimed throughout the kingdom. Heroes were venerated.

The word "scop" literally translates to "shaper" in modern English. They were the shapers of men's reputations in Anglo-Saxon culture. Even today we venerate Beowulf for being courageous, but disregard Unferth for not fulfilling his boasts, and being a brother-killer.

Although, the histories were orally passed on, at some point the scops' poems were recorded for us to read, centuries later. The Anglo-Saxon hope for immortality surely did come true.