Royal Hall From 'Beowulf' Found? Site Described In Epic Poem Excavated

Is This The Place Where Beowulf Slew Grendel?
A knight, miniature from the epic poem Beowulf, manuscript, England, 8th Century.
A knight, miniature from the epic poem Beowulf, manuscript, England, 8th Century.

The Old English epic poem "Beowulf" is partly based on a real hall unearthed in a small town in Denmark, according to archeologists.

The poem is believed to have been composed between 700 and 750 A.D. Considered by many to be a literary masterpiece, the work spans thousands of lines and details the heroics of a brave Scandinavian fighter named Beowulf, who frees Danish King Hrothgar's hall from the murderous demon Grendel. While no evidence of Grendel has ever been found, archaeologists believe they now know the location of the hall where Hrothgar's warriors once feasted, reports BBC History Magazine.

John Niles, a former university professor and an expert on the site, told The Huffington Post in an email that researchers in the area have found evidence of a series of great halls dating between 550 and 1000 A.D. The excavation is located in the Danish village of Lejre.

"The halls were the focal points of a larger settlement complex that included probable workshops, barns, ordinary dwellings and places of religious activity," said Niles, who has collaborated on a book about the site. "Archaeology has thus confirmed what textual sources that date from a thousand years ago consistently maintain: that Lejre was a 'central place' that became, in the course of time, the cradle of the modern kingdom of Denmark."

Speaking to HuffPost about "Beowulf," Niles remarked: "Experts have long speculated that, leaving its monsters aside, the action of that poem had a real-world basis somewhere in Denmark. The recent excavations at Lejre have confirmed that surmise."

Tom Christensen, a longtime leader of the Lejre expedition, told HuffPost in an email that he is working on a manuscript for a new book detailing the team's latest discoveries.

There are plenty of tidbits for "Beowulf" enthusiasts to ponder over in the meantime. In a study completed earlier this year, Christensen detailed the discovery of ancient remains from feasts that back to the era of "Beowulf," according to the BBC History Magazine. Also uncovered were gold jewelry, pottery and the remains of a bear jawbone that may have been a gift given to a Danish king by a foreign emissary.

"These discoveries have gone a long way toward filling out our knowledge of how people actually lived at that early time," Niles noted. "[It was a time] when rival groups asserted their regional power through a combination of military might and lavish displays of hospitality."

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