An Introduction to the Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England Project

An Introduction to the Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England Project

By David A. E. Pelteret

Paper presented at University College London (2002)

Introduction: The Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England is a five-year AHRB-sponsored project that will provide in database form a biographical register of all identifiable Anglo- Saxons from the period 597 to 1042. The project, which began in January 2000, is based at King’s College London and the University of Cambridge under the joint direction of Professor Janet (Jinty) Nelson and Professor Simon Keynes, with computing advice provided under the direction of Harold Short of King’s College London.

My initial paragraph already begs a number of questions and so before proceeding to any new information, I should flesh out some of the details that lie behind the bald facts I have just given you.

The prosopographical method has focused on how individuals have related to larger groupings within society. It has frequently been political in emphasis, has concentrated on elites and has sought to identify the roles played by an individual during his (or more rarely, her) lifetime. Our approach is rather broader. We are seeking to record all named individuals and have thus not privileged simply the political or religious sphere of human activity. Furthermore, we are conscious that individuals for whom superior spiritual merits were claimed—in other words, those who were deemed to be saints—were called upon by various power groups to fill a variety of roles within society long after their deaths. We are thus accumulating evidence on the part played by saints after their demise.

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