Saxon Lyre

Alternate Names Suppliers Musicians Archaeology On-Line Articles Books Periodicals Images

Alternate Names

Germanic Harp 
North European Lyre 
Saxon Lyre
The Sutton Hoo Instrument

Back to Top


Busy Mole Harps  £150, (€225)
Coog Early Instruments  $500 but BEAUTIFUL!
The Early Music Shop £ 293.75 kit £479.11 complete
Markland Strings $200-235
Michael J King £500-700 replicas based on specific archaeological finds.
Orphic Airs   $125-150.  The Saxon lyre shown is their old lyre that was built for a customer who desired 4 strings. Their current lyre is "an almost exact replica of the Sutton Hoo lyre, down to the brass nails and bone bridge". - Danae for Orphic Airs
Silvershell Musical Instruments $200 
Theod $270-785 Harps, Owner's Manual, CD Tutorial 
Thurau-Harfenmanufaktur These folks make custom historical harps in addition to their catalog.  They made Benjamin Bagby's lyre.

Back to Top


Benjamin Bagby/Sequentia

Interview with Benjamin Bagby by Andante Magazine 
Biography of Benjamin Bagby on the site for Sequentia, an ensemble he directs 
Benjamin Bagby's Beowulf   He performs Beowulf accompanying himself on a lyre.  I got to see this in Eugene, Oregon in 2005 and it was amazing.  He will perform the whole thing at the Lincoln Center in 2006.  I believe a DVD of his performance will be available after that.
Lost Songs of a Rhineland Harper by Sequentia
The Rhinegold Curse: A Germanic Saga of Greed and Revenge from the Medieval Icelandic Edda by Sequentia
EDDA: An Icelandic Saga, Myths from Medieval Iceland by Sequentia

Tim Rayborn

Ælfric Lord 

Harp Runes From Allfather's Hall 
Songs of the Elder Trow
The Wita
Songs of the Ancient Goths
The Art of Theodish Galdorcraft


Kaingk by Bragod  Welsh Lyre and Crwth music.

Stephen Winstanley 

Avanti Musick

Back to Top


Prittlewell, England
Sutton Hoo, England
Snape, England
Bergh Apton, England
Morning Thorpe, England
Taplow, England
Scole, England - Bridge and tuning peg in the British Museum
Oberflacht, Germany - The most interesting is a real specimen of wood found in an Alamannic tomb of the 4th to the 7th century at Oberflachtf in the Black Forest, and now preserved in the Staatliches Museum für Völkerkunde, Berlin (Picture of replica of it in the Met)
Abingdon, England
Cologne, Germany
Kerch, Germany
Hedeby, Germany
Bridges for the instrument have also been found at places as far apart as York and Sweden.
Trossingen, Germany
Anglo-Saxon Lyre Tuning Key with Boar terminal, possibly mid 7th-century, from Gayton, Norfolk, private collection 

Back to Top

On Line Articles

The Saxon Lyre: History, Construction, and Playing Techniques by Dofinn-Hallr Morrisson and Þóra Sharptooth  
Making a Simple Lyre By Patrick Woolery
The Beowulf Bardic Board: a Lyre by Lavrans Reimer-Møller
The Anglo-Saxon Hearpe by Peter C. Horn (Wiðowinde Issue 115, page 22)
Tuning the Sutton Hoo Instrument by Master Orrick of Romney
Sutton Hoo Cithara by Sir Andras Salamandra
Floregium - instruments contains notes by Þóra Sharptooth on the Sutton Hoo lyre
Tuning the Lyre and Crwth by Bragod 
Anglo-Saxon Lyres by Michael J King Several pages with links to archaeological information, lyres he makes, mp3s to hear what they sound like, and how to tune an play them.
Hexachords, Solmization, and Musica Ficta by Margo Schulter  Section 1 has information on tuning a 6 string lyre.
North European Lyre Bragod tunes and plays the lyre MP4 Quicktime video 
The Lyre Project by Catnip

Back to Top


Savelli, Mary. The Lyre Handbook: Playing Styles of the Anglo-Saxon Lyre with Directions for Construction.  This contains a good bibliography and exercises in modern musical notation.
Taylor, Ronald Zachary. Making Early Stringed Instruments.
Lawson, G. "Stringed Musical Instruments: Artefacts in the Archaeology of North-West Europe 500 B.C. - A.D. 1200."     University of Cambridge Doctoral Dissertation, 1980 (unpublished).
Ælfric (Michael Moell). The Germanic Harp Owner’s Manual  This is written for someone who cannot read music.  The exercises are explained in words, and it contains a song based on Cædmon's Hymn written in tablature.

Back to Top


Bruce-Mitford, R. L. S. "The Sutton Hoo Musical Instrument."   Archaeological News Letter 1 (1948).
Wrenn, C. L. "Two Anglo-Saxon Harps." Comparative Literature 14   (1962).
Bessinger, J. "Beowulf and the Harp at Sutton Hoo." University of Toronto Quarterly 27 (1957).

Back to Top


David Playing the lyre Vespasian Psalter (London, British Library, MS Cotton Vespasian A. i, f. 30v-31)
David Rex Durham Cassiodorus (Durham, Cathedral Library Ms B. II. 30, fol. 81v)
David Playing His Lyre   Clonmacnois, Ireland. Cross of the Scriptures. South Side. Panel S2
Man Seated playing a lyre  Sockburn, England. Cross fragments

Back to Top