Forests of thought and fields of perception: landscape and community in Old English poetry

Ward, Mary Elizabeth (2018). Forests of thought and fields of perception: landscape and community in Old English poetry. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.


Download (2MB)


Old English poetry is centred on the concept of community and the importance of belonging. Landscape was a component of any community since, during the period when Old English poetry was being composed and written down, the landscape was a far more important constituent of daily life than it is for the majority of people today. Landscape dictated the places that could be settled, as well as the placing of the paths, fords, and bridges that joined them; it controlled boundaries, occupations, and trading routes. In the poetry of the period landscape, as part of the fabric of community, is the arbiter of whether each element of a community is in its proper place and relationship to the others. It is the means of explaining how a community is constructed, policed, and empowered. Erring communities can be corrected or threats averted through the medium of landscape which also positions communities in place and time. Landscape is presented as the cause of dissension in heaven, the consequent creation of hell, and the key to comprehension of the fundamental difference between them. The linguistic landscapes of Old English poetry are a functional component of the meaning inherent in the narratives.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature


Request a Correction Request a Correction
View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year