Grendel, a troll-like monster said to be descended from the biblical Cain, is pained by the sounds of a joy he cannot share, attacks the hall, and kills and devours many of Hrothgar's warriors while they sleep.
Hrothgar and his people, helpless against Grendel, abandon Heorot.
Beowulf, a young warrior from Geatland, hears of Hrothgar's troubles and with his king's permission leaves his homeland to assist Hrothgar. Beowulf refuses to use any weapon because he holds himself to be the equal of Grendel.
Eadgils was buried at Uppsala according to Snorri Sturluson.
When Eadgils' mound (to the left in the photo) was excavated in 1874, the finds supported Beowulf and the sagas.
An elaborate history of characters and their lineages is spoken of, as well as their interactions with each other, debts owed and repaid, and deeds of valour.
The warriors form a kind of brotherhood linked by loyalty to their lord.
The dating of the events in the poem has been confirmed by archaeological excavations of the barrows indicated by Snorri Sturluson and by Swedish tradition as the graves of Ohthere (dated to c. Like the Finnesburg Fragment and several shorter surviving poems, Beowulf has consequently been used as a source of information about Scandinavian personalities such as Eadgils and Hygelac, and about continental Germanic personalities such as Offa, king of the continental Angles.
19th-century archeological evidence may confirm elements of the Beowulf story.
They showed that a powerful man was buried in a large barrow, c 575, on a bear skin with two dogs and rich grave offerings.
These remains include a Frankish sword adorned with gold and garnets and a tafl game with Roman pawns of ivory.
The poem deals with legends, was composed for entertainment, and does not separate between fictional elements and real historic events, such as the raid by King Hygelac into Frisia.
Though Beowulf himself is not mentioned in any other Anglo-Saxon manuscript, This does not only concern people (e.g., Healfdene, Hroðgar, Halga, Hroðulf, Eadgils and Ohthere), but also clans (e.g., Scyldings, Scylfings and Wulfings) and some of the events (e.g., the Battle on the Ice of Lake Vänern). In Denmark, recent archaeological excavations at Lejre, where Scandinavian tradition located the seat of the Scyldings, i.e., Heorot, have revealed that a hall was built in the mid-6th century, exactly the time period of Beowulf.
The poem also begins in medias res or simply, "in the middle of things", which is a characteristic of the epics of antiquity.