EBK Activity Sheets


Anglo-Saxon Great Halls
of the Rich & Famous
  • Saxon Palace at Yeavering -  Nash Ford PublishingSaxon kings, thanes (lords) and bishops were very rich and powerful in the Dark Ages. They often lived in big wooden buildings known as 'Great Halls'.
  • These were the equivalent of mansions or palaces today. They looked a bit like huge barns.
  • A great hall is described in the 'Beowulf' poem.
  • They were built of big wooden beams. The walls were filled in with either wattle & daub (wickerwork covered in mud and animal poo!) or wooden planks or 'staves'.
  • Some halls may have had an upstairs (as shown on the Bayeux Tapestry). In late Saxon times, extremely rich kings built them of stone.
  • The roofs were thatched with reeds or straw; or covered in wooden shingles.
  • Lords had smaller great halls to kings. A king might have two great halls, one next to the other. Nearby were smaller buildings used for lots of different purposes. There would be a big wooden wall around the lot, called a 'palisade'. Everything together made up an estate or a palace.
  • Archaeologists have dug up great halls in palaces at Cheddar (in Somerset) and Yeavering (in Northumberland).
    • King Alfred of Wessex's palace at Cheddar had one great hall. There were lots of smaller buildings too. People lived there throughout the 9th and 10th centuries.
    • King Edwin of Northumbria's palace at Yeavering had two great halls (see picture). Amongst other buildings, there was also a 'corral' for keeping cattle in and a grandstand in which to hold meetings. People lived there throughout the 7th century.
  • Activity Sheet available.

But what was it like inside a Great Hall?


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