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Chapter 1: Preface

The names Helia, Heile, Helið and Helith are recorded in several medieval and later publications as names for a pagan deity who was venerated in the southwest of early Anglo-Saxon England. Strange enough, actual scholarly related literature does not mention those records, not even in footnotes. Therefore this contribution, in which the two authors showed both their craving for this kind of clarification and could indulge their passion for historical research in the fields of their interests, closes a 'historical gap'.


Already at the beginning it has to be stated clearly, that the sources for 'Helith' aren't as old as the ones for other pagan deities ascribed to the Anglo-Saxons, such as Hrêðe (Hrêða, Hretha, Hreda) and Ēostre (Ostara), whose first written records date to the 7th/8th Century, mentioned by BEDA VENERABILIS (Bede the Venerable, 672-735). The earliest sources for 'Helith' date to 400 to 500 years later. Whereas Bede's works were written within one hundred years after the conversion when there may still have been pagan Anglo-Saxons, the first mention of 'Helith' is well afterward when nearly all Englishmen were Christian. However, the assumption is agreeable that before older written documents existed for this on which those first authors will have relied. Unfortunately, such older records aren't detectable anymore; they may have been lost as happened with so many medieval documents we only know of through other sources.

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