VR Heorot Project

                                   Him on mod bearn

þæt healreced     hatan wolde,

medoærn micel,     men gewyrcean

þonne yldo bearn     æfre gefrunon…


[He then envisioned a great meadhall.

The hall would be celebrated

throughout the ages…]


Continuing the work of The Grinnell Beowulf, we are now working to construct a virtual reality (VR) model of Heorot. The team is basing its model on archeological excavations of Viking meadhalls in Denmark and England, particularly hall at Lejre , as well as accounts from historical and poetic records from the early Middle Ages. The project will help modern readers of Beowulf to better understand the civic spaces that helped shape the poem’s social structures.

 With virtual reality technology, people will be able to “visit” Heorot, the “greatest of meadhalls” that features prominently in Beowulf. Using Beowulf, related poetry, and historical sources, the meadhall will be populated with people and objects important to understanding the setting of the poem. The VR experience will give participants a sense of space, allowing them to see how the layout of the hall contributes to its function as a political and social arena. In addition, people will be able to “hold” and examine virtual objects such as weapons, armor, jewelry, etc.

We began work on this project during Summer 2018.

The project is supported by the Grinnell College Immersive Experience Lab. Follow the GCIEL on Twitter for VR Meadhall uptdates: @GrinnellCIEL

The VR Heorot Team

Tim Arner (@TimothyDArner) and Justin Thomas are the faculty co-leaders of the project.

David Neville is the Project Director and master craftsman. He regularly posts about his work on Twitter: @doktorfrag.

Six Grinnell College students have contributed to the project so far, and we expect to bring more on board as the project continues to develop over the next few years. Joseph Robertson ’19 and Madison Smith ’20 have worked as content experts, contributing valuable research on Viking architecture, material culture, and social structures. Ethan Huelskamp ’20 and Anna Brew ’21 are our 3D artists. Zoe Cui and Mike Zou ’20 are working as programmers.

Faculty-Student Research in Iceland

In October 2018, I took three students to Reykjavik, Iceland to do research on Viking objects and architecture. We visited the National Museum of Iceland, the Reykjavik Settlement Museum, and the Saga Museum, and took the Golden Circle Tour to Þingvellir National Park, the Haukadalur geothermal area, and the Gullfoss waterfall.



The Grinnell Beowulf now available through ACMRS, Amazon

The Grinnell Beowulf is now being distributed by The Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies and copies can be ordered through Amazon.com. The edition is designed for use in the undergraduate classroom at both the introductory and advanced levels, and you can review an online version of the edition through Digital Grinnell.

All profits from the edition will be donated to Grinnell College to support faculty-student collaboration in the humanities.

The Grinnell Beowulf website

Hwæt, everybody! This website provides resources for the study of Beowulf and other Old English literature. Some of these resources were developed during work on The Grinnell Beowulf, a translation and teaching edition of the poem that was produced at Grinnell College by a group of undergraduate students and Associate Professor Timothy D. Arner.

For things medieval and academic, you can follow me on Twitter @TimothyDArner