The Making of England: Anglo-Saxons, Vikings and Normans

Course summary

The Making of England: Anglo-Saxons, Vikings and Normans


The Oxford Experience is a residential summer programme providing one-week courses in a variety of subjects aimed at non-specialists. It offers a choice of seminars each week over a period of six weeks.

Between the fifth century AD and the eleventh century, Britain was the target for three groups of foreign settlers: the Anglo-Saxons, the Vikings and the Normans.  The nature of each of these settlements was different and the contribution that these settlers made to the formation of England varied considerably, but they each played a major role in shaping the country.  The Anglo-Saxons were the first “English”; they gave us our language and much of the settlement pattern of the country.  The Vikings began as pagan raiders, but ended up controlling over half of the country – the area known as the Danelaw.  The Normans also exerted an influence on the English language and their influence on English social structure and the arts was tremendous. 

This course will examine the background to these different peoples: their homelands and the nature of the settlement in England.   

There will be a field trip to Winchester - an Anglo-Saxon town that built defences against Viking invasions and became an important seat of power in the Norman period.

Programme details

Seminars meet each weekday morning, 09.15-10.45 and 11.15-12.45, with afternoons free for course-related field trips, individual study or exploring the many beautiful places in and around the city.


The end of Roman Britain

The Anglo-Saxons

The Anglo-Saxon homelands and the early Anglo-Saxon period in England


The Anglo-Saxons

Conversion to Christianity; the development of towns

The Vikings

The Viking homelands and the early Viking raids


The Viking 'Great Army'; the Danelaw and later Anglo-Saxon England


Field trip to Winchester - the Cathedral and the town


The Normans

Normandy and the Norman Conquest; Norman England; the Domesday Book

Field Trip:

Winchester Cathedral

Excursion Rating: Demanding

Excursion Ratings: Key
(as rated by course tutors)
Easy: Up to an hour's walk on even ground or less than half an hour's walk on rough ground.
Moderate: Up to two hours' walk on even ground or up to an hour's walk on rough and/or steep ground or up lots of stairs and steps.
Demanding: More than two hours' walk on even ground or up to two hours' walk on rough and/or steep ground or up lots of stairs and steps.

Recommended reading

Blair, J. The Anglo-Saxon Age: A Very Short Introduction. OUP. 2000.

Hall, R. Exploring the World of the Vikings. Thames and Hudson. 2007.

Rowley, T. Norman England, 1066–1204. Shire Publications. 2010.


During your course, you will stay in typical Oxford student accommodation at Christ Church in buildings which range from the 18th to the 20th century. Bedrooms are modestly-furnished, do not have air-conditioning and are arranged on a staircase of four or five floors.

The fee £1490  includes a bedroom with private bathroom facilities (shower, washbasin and toilet). Most are single but a few twins are available for couples or those who wish to share with a friend. Those couples wishing to book a twin room should contact us direct, as these rooms cannot be booked online.

There are also a few standard rooms available which all have their own washbasin and shaver point but the bath and toilet facilities on each staircase are shared. To apply for one of these rooms please select the ‘Programme Fee (with single standard accommodation and meals)’ option on the application form.  Early application for these rooms is essential.

Most standard rooms are single but there are a few ‘twin sets’ (two single rooms opening off a sitting room). If you wish to book a twin set, please contact us direct, as these rooms cannot be booked online.

Please indicate your accommodation preferences (either online or on your application form) together with a note of any mobility problems.

We regret that we are unable to offer you accommodation at Christ Church prior to or following your course. Additionally, family or friends who are not enrolled in the programme cannot be accommodated in college.


Programme Fee (single en-suite accom. and meals and field trip): £1555.00
Programme Fee (single standard accom. and meals and field trip): £1375.00


Mr David Beard


David Beard is a freelance archaeologist and is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland specializing in medieval archaeology, especially the Anglo-Saxon and Viking periods. He has been involved in continuing education for many years having taught for the Universities of Oxford, London, Essex and Ulster.

Assessment methods

There are no assessments for this course.


Online registration closes on Monday, 1 May 2017 but please note that this course may be fully booked very quickly so early registration is recommended.