As a medievalist from the nouveau riche city-state of Singapore, I rarely need to be reminded how irrelevant my chosen subject can be to the average person on the street. Medieval history can often resemble a weathered castle high up on a hill – looming, majestic and probably important once upon a time, but largely meaningless to the passing observer lacking any specialised knowledge. When my contemporaries consider anything from the 1980s ‘old’ and when the study of history itself is being pushed increasingly to the sidelines in favour of more ‘practical’ subjects, I have a difficult time convincing anyone that my love for medieval history is not a waste of energy. The problem is compounded further since the Anglo-Saxon period belongs to that primordial chaos of European history broadly tarred as ‘The Dark Ages’. Too early for knights yet too late for Rome, the word ‘Anglo-Saxon’ is more widely used as a racial signifier for the people of Britain and America than a defined historical period. And an inhabitant of a post-colonial nation studying ‘Anglo-Saxon history’ can sound more than a little traitorous to his countrymen.
It is hoped that this site will contribute to the wider efforts to transform attitudes towards the Anglo-Saxon period. We cannot risk going about our usual business as academic historians, bickering over interpretations and schools of thought between themselves while very little of this information is transmitted beyond the realm of academia. With recent belt-tightening measures hurting funding across the humanities, we are at risk of devouring each other like starving prisoners in a dank dungeon fighting bitterly over the last piece of stale bread that will do little to rescue us from our collective doom. A jailbreak is in order, and it is hoped that this blog will contribute to the wider efforts to make the Anglo-Saxon period accessible to the non-specialist in the way that, say, Roman history or the two world wars have captured the imagination of the public. Evidently, I betray my youthful exuberance and idealism, but better to have tried and failed than not to have tried at all.