Welcome to The Riddle Ages!

Welcome to The Riddle Ages! The aim of this website is to introduce you to several hundred poetic riddles — composed and written down from the 7th- through 10th-centuries — which record the minutiae of daily life and worldly wisdom in early medieval England. They tell us that onions could be the butt of a rude joke, cats were then (as now) fiercely independent, and violence did not go unquestioned when swords were given the chance to speak. Because they exist in two languages, Old English and Latin, these riddles are rarely brought into conversation with each other and some are only known by specialists. This website brings the variety of the early medieval riddle tradition to light, through original texts, translations and commentaries that unpack literary and cultural information. Enjoy!

How to use this site

Our "highlight collections" include the Old English riddles of the Exeter Book and the anonymous Latin poems known as the Bern Riddles and the Lorsch Riddles. You will find information about the collection, texts, translations and commentaries for every riddle in these highlight collections. Texts and translations of all the Latin riddles of Aldhelm, Boniface, Eusebius and Tatwine are also available, along with information about each collection as a whole, as are the Latin riddles of the 4th/5th-century North African poet Symphosius whose influence upon the early English riddle tradition as a whole was profound. We have also made a home for guests to translate early medieval riddles into other languages, and currently have several Exeter Book riddle translations in Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin and Serbian; Indonesian; and Spanish. You can view all of this material by clicking through the "Riddle Collections" tab at the top of the page.

All content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Recent Announcements

Scheduled maintenance


Please note that The Riddle Ages will be down from 12th-13th March 2024 for scheduled maintenance.

Riddlequest at Sutton Hoo


Organised by: Megan Cavell, Jennifer Neville, Sacha Coward and Josh Ward

We are thrilled to announce our collaboration with National Trust: Sutton Hoo and escape game designer Sacha Coward. The result is Riddlequest, Sutton Hoo's exciting new escape game experience. Your quest is to return an object, formerly belonging to King Rædelwulf, to its rightful place. There are challenges to complete along the way, including solving real early medieval riddles to unlock the secrets of the past. You have 1 hour! Booking details for autumn 2022 can be found here on the National Trust website. (recommended for ages 10+)

URL: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/events/38c29ddf-7f72-4284-a017-5c1c10e69107/pages/details

Location: Sutton Hoo, Suffolk

Best Teaching Aid Award


The Riddle Ages is very grateful to be the recipient of the International Society for the Study of Early Medieval England's award for Best Teaching Aid 2021. Thank you, ISSEME!

URL: https://isseme.org/2021/06/23/isseme-publication-awards-2021/