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Maidstone Museum: Talk by historian Michael Wood on the Anglo-Saxon period

Submitted by Laura Freeman on 30 December 2022
On Thursday the 1st of December, 2022 Professor Michael Wood OBE, FSA, entertained members of the Kent Archaeological Society at Maidstone Museum with a live talk.


In the first of what is hoped to be an increase in collaboration of events with the museum members were treated to a delightful expounding of Michael’s newly published revised version of his seminal text In search of the Dark Ages, which was first published forty years ago.

During the evening, the society's members were enthralled by Michael’s erudite explanation of the development of scholarship in the last thirty years and how that increased knowledge and understanding of the manuscript history held in archives around Europe has broadened our knowledge of the Anglo-Saxon period. Using that knowledge in the revised version of his book Michael has five extra chapters including one that particularly, demonstrates an increased understanding of females and the important role that they played in the Anglo-Saxon world and helps to start to readdress the balance, which can be argued, is lacking in some scholarship of the period.

Michael’s expertise and depth of knowledge were demonstrated in his explanation of the development of the East Anglican Kings, the importance of the Canterbury School and the extraordinary life of Theodore and Hadrian and the rich legacy of texts that they gave to the world. Some of these have remained hidden in archives for several years and are now helping to form new scholarship on the importance of the African and Syrian influence that they brought.

The evening was judged to be a great success for the approximately seventy members who were there. Moving forward it is hoped that there will be more events like this with great opportunities for members to meet again and share in their passion of all things Kent.

The enthusiasm for this event, and the excellent presentation that Michael made, were reminders of just how passionate the interest is in history, particularly when it is well illustrated with archaeological findings. Michael focused in particular on remarkable recent discoveries in manuscripts regarding the great era when Theodore of Tarsus and Hadrian were in Canterbury, creating a European wide centre of scholarship and expertise.

Michael was generous and gracious with his time, and we were grateful for him coming down from London and being able to make such a compelling and engaging speech.