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What follows attempts to present a straightforward synopsis of the relevant facts, largely based on R. Fulk's excellent work on the dating of Old English poems based on Kaluza's Law (see Fulk, A History of Old English Meter, §§ 170-183, §§406-421), which suggests that Beowulf was composed between 685 AD - 725 AD (though one should be aware that there are other valid arguments for a later date of composition, as well as some difficulties with the evidence provided by Kaluza's Law:-- see postscript below).
8a above [ / x x / x ] shows an expansion of the first weak position (also called the first 'dip') into two syllables, some verses show an even greater expansion, like 1587b tó ðæs þe hé on ræste geseah [ x x x x x / | x x-/ ]. 1587b also shows another 'accomodation phenomenon' in the extrametricality of the prefix ge- of geseah : thus the notation x-/, which indicates that these two syllables are combined into one position (more specifically, the prefix is cliticised to the following stressed syllable).
Essentially, to occupy the ictus of a foot (i.e., to be stressed), either a heavy syllable, or a light syllable combined with the following syllable is required.