Angels, Fools, and Tyrants: Britons and Anglo-Saxons in Southern Scotland, AD 450-750

By Chris Lowe | Go to book overview

Enclosed Places: Centres of Spiritual
and Economic Power

Aerial View of Kirkhill, near St
Abbs Head (Scottish Borders)
RCAHMS

The Northumbrian settlement of earlier, secular places of power and administration may be paralleled by their similar takeover of ecclesiastical centres. Secular and ecclesiastical conquest went hand-in-hand. For example, Wilfrid, the powerful late-seventhcentury Northumbrian bishop, had ecclesiastical dominion over 'the British, Scots and Picts to the north' as far as the bounds of the Northumbrian kingdom itself. According to his biographer, in a speech which was delivered on the steps of his newly completed church at Ripon in the 670s, he also had a list of the 'holy places in various parts of the country which the British clergy, fleeing from our own hostile sword, had deserted'. Perhaps these were places like the Thornybank long-cist cemetery, like Hoddom, or Traprain.

Bede tells us of four early monastic foundations which were established in southern Scotland by the Northumbrians: Whithorn, Abercorn, Old Melrose and St Æbbe's monastery which was established at a place called Urbs Coludi. The same place is referred to by other contemporary writers as Colodesbyrig and Colodaesburg, meaning 'Colud's fort'. All four sites are the sites of earlier, British foundations.

Æbbe's monastery has been identified as Kirk Hill, near St Abb's Head, Coldingham: a double-monastery (housing both

-48-

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Angels, Fools, and Tyrants: Britons and Anglo-Saxons in Southern Scotland, AD 450-750
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Setting the Scene 7
  • Petty Tyrants and Foolish Priests 8
  • Northumbrian Expansion 10
  • Strongholds and Centres of Power 17
  • Stones, Shrines and Cemeteries 37
  • Enclosed Places: Centres of Spiritual and Economic Power 48
  • Conclusions 62
  • Further Reading 64
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