Skeletons buried near Bamburgh Castle belonged to people who had travelled across the British isles


Britain was a fractious nation in the 7th Century AD, still looking for stability several centuries after the collapse of the Roman empire. 

At this point, various kings ruled over different regions of land and many languages and religions dominated certain locales. 

The exact date of the church is not known, but it is though to be around 633AD, or shortly after, when Ethelburga, a native of Kent, likely returned to her homeland following the death of her husband, Edwin. 

Edwin was the son of Ethelfrith, a Northumbrian king who was known for his warring prowess and repeated skirmished with the Gododdin, a fierce celtic-speaking people from the north-east area of the then-called ‘Britannia’. 

King Redwalld of East Anglia dominated the centre of the country, and established the kingdom of Mercia while the Picts dominated modern-day Scotland. 

Augustine (right, on bended knee), and a further 40 Benedictines, landed in Thanet and were met by Ethelbert and Bertha (left). The mission massed its litmus test in 602AD when the English king decided to join his wife's beliefs and opted to be baptised.He then also donated a certain site in Canterbury which would be home to the first, and most important, cathedral in the country. Augustine duly became Canterbury Cathedral's first archbishop

Augustine (right, on bended knee), and a further 40 Benedictines, landed in Thanet and were met by Ethelbert and Bertha (left). The mission massed its litmus test in 602AD when the English king decided to join his wife’s beliefs and opted to be baptised.He then also donated a certain site in Canterbury which would be home to the first, and most important, cathedral in the country. Augustine duly became Canterbury Cathedral’s first archbishop

Another king ruled the south-east, with Ethelbert of Kent and his French Christian wife Bertha in command of the region. 

These royals had been visited by a bishop from Rome in 597AD called Augustine after Pope Gregory sent him on a mission to take Christianity to the British isles. 

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The Pope’s sudden interest in the British isles is believed to stem from a chance encounter with two ‘Angli’ slaves in an Italian slave market.

Their blonde hair and fair skin captivated the Pope and he immediately said of the inhabitants of England, known as Angels at the time: ‘Non Angli sed angeli’. 

Directly translated into English it means ‘not Angels but angels of God’.  

His instant infatuation was the kickstarter for the Roman clergy to begin their efforts to bring Evangelicalism to the desolate and divided nation. 

Augustine, and a further 40 Benedictines, landed in Thanet and were met by Ethelbert and Bertha. 

The mission massed its litmus test in 602AD when the English king decided to join his wife’s beliefs and opted to be baptised. 

He then also donated a certain site in Canterbury which would be home to the first, and most important, cathedral in the country. 

Augustine duly became Canterbury Cathedral’s first archbishop.  

Meanwhile, the feared Ethelfrith from the north died and was succeeded by his son, Edwin, who soon mounted a charge on the rest of Britannia.  

His vast army descended from the north and swept through Mercia and into Kent. 

The mission ended in the conquest of the south-east and Edwin seized Ethelburga, daughter of Ethelbert and Bertha, as his trophy. 

She became his second wife and her devote Christian beliefs went with her to the north.  

A Roman monk was also claimed as part of Edwin’s spoils and he performed a baptism on the young King Edwin.

This monk was then assigned the task of founding what is now one of the most iconic christian sites in the UK, York Minster. 

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After Edwin abandoned his Pagan beliefs, his reflective approach was not matched by all his contemporaries. 

His high priest was so inflamed by the king’s decision he hurled a spear into his own temple and ordered conflagration.  

In 633AD King Cadwallen of Gwynedd and King Penda of Mercia invaded Northumbria and killed Edwin in battle.

He was defeated during the Battle of Hatfield Chase and left Ethelburga widowed.  

The troops of King Cadwallon of Gwynedd raise their spears and rejoice at the death of King Edwin in 633AD. He was defeated during the Battle of Hatfield Chase and left Ethelburga widowed

The troops of King Cadwallon of Gwynedd raise their spears and rejoice at the death of King Edwin in 633AD. He was defeated during the Battle of Hatfield Chase and left Ethelburga widowed



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