King Oswald's Raven

Peterborough Cathedral is delighted to host, via its website, King Oswald's Raven, an animation and a series of online activities that are part of the 2020 Being Human Festival.

This is the page on which you will be able to see the King Oswald's Raven animation and other videos, once they are published, from 12-22 November 2020.

King Oswald’s Raven is a new animation developed by researchers at University College London and King’s College London. The five minute video tells the comic German legend about Peterborough’s most important medieval saint: Oswald of Northumbria.

The animation uses imagery from the Peterborough Bestiary, an medieval book with pictures of animals, to tell the story of King Oswald and his legendary (and sassy) pet raven.

Who is St Oswald?

Oswald was a Christian king of Northumbria who died in battle in 642, slain by the Mercian king Penda, he was soon venerated as a saint. By the time of the Norman Conquest 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 shrine in the chapel dedicated to Oswald in the south transept of the abbey church and was of paramount importance to the religious life of the monastic community.

Soon after his death, Oswald’s fame had spread overseas and through the centuries links between England and German-speaking lands strengthened his cult on the Continent. He became a particularly popular saint in southern Germany 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.

How can I get involved?

The animation will be shown for the very first time at 11.30am on Thursday 12th November, via this webpage and the Festival continues until 22nd November 2020.

Alongside the animation is a series of short videos: three explaining some of the research background to the project and three containing family-friendly creative activities responding to Peterborough’s medieval heritage and Oswald’s German legends. The creative activity videos are supported by downloadable activity sheets.

Children can win a toy raven

There are six soft toy ravens to give away to children who send in the best creations during the Festival. Details of how to share your poems, stories and pictures will be available online during the festival.

Find out more

For more details of the programme see: or follow @Oswalds_Raven on Twitter.

This event was selected to be part of Being Human by the festival organisers, the School of Advanced Study, the University of London, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy.

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