History Resource Cupboard – lessons and resources for schools

History Resource Cupboard - lessons and resources for schools

8. How significant was Gytha Thorkelsdottir?

This lesson focuses on one key, overlooked figure from the period of the Norman Conquest: Gytha Thorkelsdottir.

Girth was the wife of an influential English earl and the mother of Harold Godwinson.

Gytha challenges our preconceptions about what it meant to be a woman in Anglo-Saxon/Norman England, having exerted a considerable amount of influence over events at the time.

In the lesson, students explore Gytha’s significance, employing Ian Dawson’s significance criteria to judge the extent to which Gytha is worthy of being remembered.

They apply their new knowledge to reach sophisticated conclusions about Gytha and her place in history, even reflecting on the counter-factual statement ‘If Gytha had not lived, the course of history might have changed because…’.

Finally, students compose plaques to be displayed beneath a stained-glass depiction, highlighting the different ways in which this groundbreaking woman ought to be considered significant. 

Download lesson

  • Lesson presentation: PowerPoint
  • Lesson write-up: PDF
  • Worksheet 1,2 & 3: PDF

Price: £12.99


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