Encountering King Arthur and Beowulf in Second Life

Beowulf and King Arthur
Beowulf and King Arthur

In June I wrote about the non-profit Literature Alive! project operated by Desideria Stockton and Royce Sommer, and their Canterbury Tales Virtual Pilgrimage. They now have a new literary adventure for people to enjoy.

Beowulf and King Arthur is hosted on the Lingnan Drama Island by Brant (MrK Kas). The title itself pretty much explains what the installation is about: an exploration of the legends and times of Beowulf and King Arthur. And if this sounds an odd combination when one considers Beowulf is an Old English epic set in Scandinavia while King Arthur really came to literary prominence as a romantic figure in the 11th and 12th centuries, keep in mind both are firmly rooted in Anglo-Saxon times, and thus the pairing is apt.

As with Canterbury, Beowulf and Arthur is an interactive investigation of both legends, this one set within a huge castle structure. Entering the courtyard of this will bring the visitor to a famous image: Excalibur stuck fast in a great stone. Paths leading either side of this serve as introductions to the two legends – left for Beowulf, right for Arthur. From here, one can explore on foot, passing through the Beowulf section and on to the Arthurian section, or a teleport board provides access directly to Arthur, and one can then progress to Beowulf from there.

Beowulf and King Arthur
Beowulf and King Arthur

Given this is interactive piece, there is a lot to click on throughout; with Beowulf, blood spatters on the floor of the castle hall and on the tables provide information on his legend, while visitors can also learn about Anglo-Saxon times in Britain, paganism and Christianity (which sit as uneasy partners in the Beowulf legend) by clicking on wall displays, flowers, and so on.

Moving through the hall leads the visitor increasingly toward Arthur and Arthurian legends, notably Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, a reference to Myrddin (Merlin) prior to his fusion into Arthurian tales, and thence a climb up to Arthur’s hall, where sits the round table and an opportunity to learn about the code of chivalry.

Both elements of the installation include quizzes and puzzles and the opportunity to win prizes (keep an eye out for the quiz chests scattered around). As with Canterbury, this is an engaging exploration of literature, and one that appears to be part of a bigger project. Outside of the castle sit a series of Tudor style houses which look to be in the process of being set-up to offer insight into other works of literature; this is something I’m hoping to talk to Desi and Royce about in the near future.

Literature Alive!
Literature Alive!

In the meantime, if you fancy the opportunity to find out more about two classic mythologies and the times in which they are set, Beowulf and King Arthur offers an interesting and easy-to-follow means of doing so.

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9 thoughts on “Encountering King Arthur and Beowulf in Second Life

    1. Well, I tried, but Arthur and Beowulf proclaimed my camera to be “witchery” and ran for the hills 😉 . Seriously, you wouldn’t want to see avatars in this blog. I take perfectly hideous photos of avatars; I don’t have a clue about lighting, etc.


  1. Reblogged this on A Kat and A Mouse and commented:
    I went through the Beowulf section – clearly, a lot of work has gone into this! I was able to answer most of the questions from the chests without going through the whole thing, but that’s likely because I’ve taught Beowulf several times. 🙂 There seemed to be more on Beowulf than on King Arthur, but I didn’t have time to explore everything fully.
    There is also a side quest that you can do (follow the genie lamps). There are links to follow and I encourage you to read both Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Have fun!


    1. Thank you Chantal!

      Desi and I have already had an initial conversation about Literature Alive!, and once my current July madness is dealt with, I’ll be sitting down with her and Royce to look in more detail at their work and plans now they have a much-expanded location from which to operate, thanks to the generosity of Brant in providing the region space. Also very much hoping to cover the work of Hong Kong University!


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