wulfhēafod-trēow, n.n: ‘wolf-head tree’ (definition uncertain). (WULF-hay-ah-vod-TRAY-oh / ˈwʌlf-heːa-vɔd-ˌtreːɔw)

5 thoughts on “wulfhēafod-trēow

  1. It seems to me that the references to gold and falling gems in the first part of Exeter riddle 55 could mean the burning of dry but poorly prepared tree wood to make charcoal – essential for smelting metals including iron, gold and silver (and somewhat more prosaically Cornish tin). Perhaps the yellow in the Holly wood was caused by sap forced out by the heat. In this context abaed would need to be read as “to proffer”, smelting being the ultimate source of the sword’s iron as well as the treasure’s precious metals. I, therefore suggest burned wood or charcoal as the answer to Exeter riddle 55.

    The hapax, wulfheafedtreo, wolf head tree perhaps refers to the mercilessness with which the tree is treated (like a criminal) or to criminals carrying iron weapons produced from the metallurgy.

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