Guthlac of Crowland: Celebrating 1300 Years

10-11 April 2014

Institute of English Studies & Institute of Historical Research, University of London, Senate House

Image: from Guthlac Roll

The Institute of English Studies and Institute of Historical Research of the University of London have great pleasure in inviting you to attend an International Conference ‘Guthlac of Crowland: celebrating 1300 years’ in London, 10-11 April 2014.

The Conference will take place in the Senate House of the University of London. Papers, dealing with the saint’s life and cult, will be on a range of topics, for example the legend, Guthlac and Crowland, the Exeter Book poems, offices and music, aspects of the Guthlac Roll, Guthlac and Benedictinism. 

Conference organisers: and

Reliable information for the life of Guthlac comes from the early Anglo-Saxon period, from a life written in the middle of the eighth century. Felix’s Vita sancti Guthlaci, dedicated to a king of East Anglia, has Mercia as its centre of interest. Guthlac of Crowland is the only Anglo-Saxon saint commemorated in the English vernacular poetry extant from Anglo-Saxon England, in two poems in the Exeter Book (950-970). His vita is the most important historical record extant from pre-Viking Mercia. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle annal for 714 records the death of Saint Guthlac, an important event in the early history of England. Yet to-day he is almost forgotten. Crowland Abbey was once among the richest fenland monasteries, with impressive buildings, estates, and legends that drew many visitors. All changed suddenly when, on the 4th December 1539, during the reformation of religious institutions in Henry VIII’s England, the abbey was surrendered to the king. The choir, its transepts, central towers and monastic buildings were demolished. There remained the nave and two aisles, to serve as parish church for a single incumbent.

The conference’s speakers are a mix of established scholars and young graduate students, drawn together with the object of examining the evidence for Guthlac, his life and cult, from many angles. Thus, a wide range of academic fields is represented: history, palaeography and diplomatics, literary studies, musicology, archaeology.  We're delighted that some members of today's church at Crowland are planning to attend the conference, which will take place on the feast day of the saint and its eve.

Supported by the Society for the Study of Medieval Languages and Literature.





9.30am Coffee and registration: Jessel Room, 1st Floor Senate House

Introduction: Jane Roberts (IES/KCL)


Guthlac and His Life

Alan Thacker (IHR): Guthlac and his Life: Felix shapes the Saint

Andy Orchard (Pembroke College, Oxford): Lege feliciter; scribe felicius: the Originality of the Vita S. Guthlaci

Catherine Clarke (University of Southampton): On Beauty: Words, Pleasure and Value in some Guthlac Texts.

12.30 Lunch provided

Guthlac and His Times

Chair: Jo Story (University of Leicester)

Morn Capper (University of Leicester):  Guthlac and the Britons

Tom Lynch (St John‘s College, Cambridge):  Ritual in Felix’s Life of Guthlac

Sarah Leeser (Keble College, Oxford):  The early cult of St Guthlac: dynastic and territorial  considerations

3.30 Tea break

The Landscape of Guthlac’s World

Chair: Richard North

Kelly Kilpatrick (University of Nottingham):  The place-names and landscapes in the Vita Sancti Guthlaci

Britten Brooks (Lincoln College, Oxford):  The literal landscape: Felix’s use of authorizing allusion and lexical echo in his construction of the English Fenlands

5.00 Break

Liturgy, Music and the Later Cult

Chair: David Trendell (King's College London)

Henry Parkes (Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge): Two musical portraits of St Guthlac

Tom Licence (University of East Anglia):  Guthlac after the Norman Conquest

6.15 Wine reception



The Manuscripts

Chair: Julia Crick (King's College London) 

Stewart  Brookes (King’s College London):  Capricious cursiveness: the Vita S. Guthlaci fragment in London, British Library, MS Royal 4 A. xiv

Chris Voth (Newnham College, Cambridge): : The Tenth-Century Latin Manuscripts of Felix’s Life of St Guthlac

Timothy Bolton (Cardiff University):  Guthlac, Waltheof, Crowland and Douai Bibliothèque municipale, ms 852

11.30 Coffee break

The Vernacular Literature: Guthlac A

Chair: Jennifer Neville (Royal Holloway, University of London)

Richard Hawtree (University College Cork):  Swallowing an English saint ‘for our times’: Wisdom, Guthlac A, and the meditative impulse in the Exeter Book  

Stefany Wragg (St Cross College, Oxford): A saint for all seasons? The cult of Guthlac and Guthlac A

1.00 Lunch provided

Crowland, Hereford and the Cult

Chair: Giovanni Iamartino (University of Milan)

Meredith Bacola (Durham University): Vacuas in auras recessit? Reconsidering the social relevance of embedded heroic material in the Guthlac narrative

Michael Chisholm (St Catharine's College, Cambridge): Croyland Abbey, a tenth-century foundation

Julia  Barrow (Leeds University):  St Guthlac’s Minster in Hereford: Domesday and beyond

3.30 Tea break

Medieval Crowland

Chair: Barbara Yorke (University of Winchester)

Avril Lumley Prior (Independent scholar):  Pegeland Revisited: Guthlac and Pega on Croyland’s  Sacred  Isle

Cristian Ispir (King’s College London ): History writing in the cloister: The Crowland Chronicle

Elizabeth Danbury (IES/UCL):  Richard II and Guthlac

5.30 Break

Round Table: Guthlac’s Enduring Appeal

Chaired by David Pelteret (formerly University of Toronto) with contributions from Graham Jones (St John’s College, Oxford), Kent Pettit (Saint Louis University) and Joseph Grossi (University of Victoria)

  Concluding Remarks
6.45 End
7.00pm Tables booked at the nearby Turkish restaurant Antalya (103-105 Southampton Row; price per head with drinks roughly £25-£30).  If you would like to come to dinner please email so we have an idea of numbers.

General enquiries: Jon Millington, Events Officer, Institute of English Studies, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU; tel +44 (0) 207 664 4859; Email

The School of Advanced Study is part of the central University of London. The School takes its responsibility to visitors with special needs very seriously and will endeavour to make reasonable adjustments to its facilities in order to accommodate the needs of such visitors. If you have a particular requirement, please feel free to discuss it confidentially with the Events Officer in advance of the event taking place.