The deorhord

Many of the animals we encounter in everyday life, from the creatures in our fields to those in our fantasies, have remained the same since medieval times – but the words we use, and the ways we describe them, have often changed beyond recognition. Old English was spoken over a thousand years ago, when every animal was a deor. In this glittering Old English bestiary we find deors big and small, the ordinary and the extraordinary, the good, the bad and the downright baffling. From walker-weavers (spiders) and grey-cloaked ones (eagles) to moon-heads and teeth-tyrants (historians still don’t know!), we discover a world both familiar and strange: where ants could be monsters and panthers could be your friend, where dog-headed men were as real as elephants and where whales were as sneaky as wolves.

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