Features Videos

From Runes to Ruins: Documentary looks at rediscovering the Anglo-Saxon past

In his latest film, From Runes to Ruins, Tom Rowsell examines how people in England are reclaiming their Anglo-Saxon heritage, including its religion.

tom rowsell from runes to ruins

The documentary, which is available from, follows Rowsell as he travels around England, roaming through early medieval sites and speaking with all kinds of peculiar characters including neo-pagan followers of Thor, historical reenactors and the swashbuckling leader of the London Longsword Academy.

Rowsell, who has been a filmmaker for over seven years, has made diverse works, ranging from music videos to Boobs and Revolution, a documentary on politics and breast surgery in Venezuela. After doing a graduate degree in medieval history at University College London, he turned his camera on the Anglo-Saxon world.

“This was very different to my previous film, Boobs and Revolution,” Rowsell explains. “There was no sense of immediacy, which made timing less of a factor. I was far more conscious of the need to make the subject matter appealing. Anglo-Saxon paganism is a subject which captivates me, so I thought about why that was and how I could make this topic interesting to other people.”

The filmmaker talks to British people who are seeking a spiritual or cultural connection to the Anglo-Saxon past. For example, Andy Foster, a neo-pagan, remarks that there is a “need to rediscover our natural heritage, because in today’s society of fast food, fast cars, we are losing sight of where we come from.”

Rowsell shares in these ideals. “I passionately believe in our duty to preserve the knowledge of our history for the benefit of future generations,” he explains.

From Runes to Ruins offers viewers a glimpse into some of the mythic and spiritual past of the Anglo-Saxons as it talks about Wayland the Smith, the Uffington White Horse and the Ruthwell Cross.

Rowsell adds that the best part of making this documentary was “visiting all the historic places from my life; from Thursley, the cult site of the Saxon thunder god which I lived near to as a young boy, to Scutchamers knob where I camped as a teen and the Ruthwell Cross near to my Grandfather’s farm in Scotland. Each of these places has a part to play in the history of England and each also has a special place in my own personal past.”

You can watch From Runes to Ruins for $3.99 at

You can also learn more about the film by visiting and see more of Tom Rowsell’s films on his Youtube channel Survive the Jive.

Sign up to get a Weekly Email from

* indicates required

Smartphone and Tablet users click here to sign up for
our weekly email