Here is Roberts's closing paragraph, a powerful ending for the fine essay:
But this is the irony of the piece, of course. Because of all the works admitted to the canon of English literature Beowulf is the only one that was not hand-made, not produced cum manis onto manuscript. It was not written. Oral composition is the work of the spoken word and the memory, not the processes of hand-writing or hand-typing than nowadays characterise composition. But Grendel’s glove, the magical and threatening hand-covering, is exactly the right emblem for the strong-manual, dextrous-manual and above all the intimate, connective, hands-on quality that the poem exhibits.
I just left this in the comments section:
I think you're right to connect the intricate glove to artwork, especially because the poem is so obsessed with transforming mere things into luminous aesthetic objects (even Grendel's severed head is described as if it were a "beauty-sight"). What does it mean that Grendel wanted to engulf Beowulf inside his own work of art (the glove) but instead Grendel winds up encased in someone else's artwork (the poem Beowulf)? That the glove is made of dragon skin has to be important, too, given the twinning of the hero with his last adversary, the dragon, the monster that is most like him. If Grendel had succeeded, Beowulf would have wound up inside dragon skin. Yet Beowulf, having succeeded, ends up interred with dragon treasure in a burial mound very like a dragon's home ...