Old English charter boundaries are not unlike the instructions given for circular walks in modern walking books. In the Pub Walks (Beorhus Gangas) made up below, the text moves between modern English and Old English (all the words in italics are Old English). They all start with the word Ærest ‘First’ and end with a phrase starting with eft ‘back’).
The walks repeat common phrases, and each walk picks up points made in the Pronunciation section. They are designed to familiarise you with Old English letters and letter clusters and to help you recognise the modern words behind the Old English forms. So all you need to concentrate on here is to see how much of the Old English (the words in italics) you can understand.
The first walk concentrates on the Anglo-Saxon characters ‘thorn’, ‘eth’ and ‘ash’ (Pronunciation Rules 1 and 2). To remind you:
þ = th
ð = th
æ usually equates to standard English ‘a’ as in ‘cat’ or ‘e’ as in ‘there’, but sometimes ‘ee’ as in ‘street’ or ‘e’ as in ‘empty’.
Ærest (First) æt the ‘Æmtig Bottle’ pub down by the sæ. Walk up fram the wætere through sume þistlas and pick up a pæð to the stræte. Follow the stræte until it reaches Æþelstanes mædwe hwær you continue to a blæcþorn treowe hwær þreo paðas meet. The þridde pæþ leads to Bæð, and if you want to visit Bæð, follow þæt pæþ, but otherwise, take the oþer one which leads forð through hæðland to the river which you follow norþ to its muðe. Go forþward past the æppeltreowas until you return eft (back) to the ‘Æmtig Boðl’. Don’t even þinc about æting their hæring broþ.
You might find it useful now to read the walk through several times until you're automatically reading þ and ð as 'th' and æ as several different vowel sounds.
Concentration here is on reading the g as either the ‘g’ in ‘golden’ or as a ‘y’ (Pronunciation Rules 7). Many word-endings have dropped away between Old and modern English, so don't be afraid to experimentally knock the last letter or two off words if you can see their meaning without them (-an frequently needs removing).
Ærest æt the ‘Đyrstig Wicing’. Turn left ut of the beorhuse and æfter fiftig geard cross a stigel into a feld of grenan græs. Cross the feld onto a weg leading adune the hylle (it can be slipig). Æfter a furþor sixtig geard, you will cuman to gat forda. Cross gat ford (only if conditions are god if you want your fet to stay drige - the stream can become deop quite cwic on a renig dæg). Go through the grægan grafas and from the grey groves walk up langan dun and along long down into wiþig graf. Æt wiþig grafe take the road past Godwiges hus eft to the ‘Đyrstig Wicing’ (god ælu).
Concentration in this walk is on OE c, which is pronounces as either ‘k’ or ‘ch’ (Pronunciation Rules 8). And remember to remove endings like -an to better see the core word. Other words have lost bits in the middle on their journey from Old to modern English, like 'cyning' and 'heafod', or have changed their vowel, like 'eald'.
Ærest æt the ‘Cyninges Heafod’ (god fisc and cippas). Fram the ‘Cyninges Heafod’ ut þurh the ceaster weall to the cealc pyttas, thence into the ealdan dic. Along the dice round the bæc of the clæg pytt to the clife near cu croft and thence to the lic-gate of the ciricean and so eft to Winceaster city centre.
Note - ‘city centre’ has the c pronounced as an ‘s’ in modern English. These two words were borrowed from the French cité and centre after the Norman Conquest but in Old English there has been no such influence and ‘c’ is never ever pronounced as an ‘s’.
This walk concentrates on sc, cg, hr and ht, but it also introduces the Old English character ‘wynn’ for those of you who have downloaded the font. This is pronounced as ‘w’ - NOT as ‘p’, although later scribes who copied the Old English manuscripts frequently misread it as ‘p’. The punctuation here is more like it is in Old English charter boundaries, and 'pearroc' really is an Old English word.
Ærest at the ‘Hƿitan Hart' Car Pearroc . turn ƿest and follow the ƿeg leading to a ƿiþig busc . after the busc take a ƿeg that sceoteþ downhill . keep to the ecg of the hylle and round a fisc pol to reach hræfn mere . from hræfn mere go up by a sloping lecg onto the hrycgƿeg . then andlang the hrycgƿeg to hƿær þær is a sceap ƿæsc æt Edweardes hus . from the sceap ƿæsce past the ‘Myrig Mylnere’ (don’t stop unless you’re very þyrstig because the beor is scittig) . ƿend your ƿeg ðurh a ƿudu then go riht ahead across the ford (in ƿet ƿeþer cross by the brycge) to return eft to the ‘Hƿitan Heorot’ (stop for a drinc as the beor is god her) .
And finally, if you still find that the Old English characters (especially wynn) are getting in the way of understanding the text, try making up entirely modern English instructions substituting Old English characters for the modern English letters. Like this:
Take the paþ through a ðicket of ðick þorns to the ƿide ƿood in the holloƿ. Ðe bridleƿay is ƿell ƿaymarked with ƿhite arroƿs all ðe ƿay ðrough the ƿood.
And if you read any of those wynns as ‘p’, then - more practice ƿriting ƿords ƿith ’p’ and ‘ƿ’ together ƿill help to recognise the difference. Remember - practice pays, and ƿhere there’s a ƿill there’s a ƿay.
You should now be ready to Put it into Practice.