Miraculously preserved over the centuries, its artistic importance was unrecognized until an essay by J. R. R. Tolkien revealed its unity and multi-dimensional structure. Beowulf is now regarded as the most important manuscript the Anglo-Saxons have handed down to us, of immense linguistic as well as poetic value.
This program sets out to trace the origins of the tribes that brought this epic into being, the war-like Northmen from Sweden, Denmark and Germany who were to conquer and settle regions of a more clement and fertile island that would become known as England, named after the tribe of the Angles. Using 3-D animation, location footage, archive materials and interviews, the Beowulf epic is examined in the light of the civilization that created it. It investigates their religious beliefs as well as their everyday life, and suggests that, old as the poem is, it may have roots in an even more ancient fertility cult.