Robert Yeager writes a nice piece on the history of Beowulf. Check it here.
According to Yeager, Beowulf is "a Scandinavian hero, of the tribe of Geats. Most of his story is said to take place in Denmark and Scandinavia."
Here are a few select quotes:
"Why the poem with a Scandinavian hero exists in Old English at all is a mystery. As a member of the tribe of Geats whose significant adventures took place in Denmark and Scandinavia, Beowulf seems an unpromising hero for an English folk epic, particularly in tenth century Saxon England.
"At the time the manuscript was being copied, Scandinavian raiders had been ravaging English shores for two centuries. This inauspicious timing has been used by some scholars to bolster their arguments that Beowulf was composed before the coming of the Northmen about A.D. 790. However, a poem featuring a Scandinavian hero may have been able to flourish at the court of King Cnut, who added England to his Danish empire in 1016."
Any thoughts, Ralph?