King Oswald’s Raven was launched on Peterborough Cathedral’s website as part of the Being Human Festival in November 2020.
For a version of the animation with subtitles please click here

Oswald was a king of Northumbria who died in battle in 642. Slain by the Mercian king Penda, Oswald was soon venerated as a saint.  By the time of the Norman Conquest, four centuries later, the most famous relic associated with this saint-king, his incorrupt right arm, was in the possession of the monks of Peterborough. The arm was kept in a jewelled shrine in the chapel dedicated to Oswald in the south transept of the abbey church and was of paramount importance to the monastic community.

Soon after his death, Oswald’s fame had also spread overseas. He was particularly popular in German-speaking lands, where, at some point in the high Middle Ages, his legend underwent a surprising metamorphosis: Oswald was transformed from a pious and austere martyr king into a rather comic figure, overshadowed by his talking raven.

The Peterborough Bestiary model for King Oswald (f. 194v)

King Oswald’s Raven brings these two traditions together and uses imagery from the Peterborough Bestiary, a manuscript containing 100s of pictures of animals that was made in the early 1300s and was in the possession of the monks of Peterborough, to tell the German legend of Oswald’s talking raven.

Scroll down to view the creative activity videos we made as part of the Being Human Festival. Further down this page you can also view 3 short videos explaining the research background to the animation.

A child’s drawing and poem inspired by King Oswald’s Raven

Accessibility: A version of the animation with subtitles is available and all the other videos have the option to turn on accurate closed caption subtitles.

Creative Activity Videos

Activity sheets to support the creative videos are available to download here.

You can see some of the creations inspired by these activities in this gallery.

Creating with Words – Hazel Gould
Creating Drama – Sinéad O’ Neill
Creating a Quill – Hannah Saunders

Research Videos

King Oswald’s Arm and the Monks of Peterborough – Dr Johanna Dale
Legends of St Oswald in Medieval Germany – Dr Sarah Bowden
The Peterborough Bestiary – Dr Philippa Hoskin

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