Brunton’s Local Guide to Anglo Saxon Christian History

Nestled amidst the rolling hills and rugged coastline of Northumberland, the landscape bears witness to a rich tapestry of history, woven by the threads of ancient Christian heritage.

As we embark on this journey through time, we uncover the enduring legacy of the Anglo-Saxon era, where faith and culture intertwined to shape the region’s unique identity. Let’s delve into a few of these remarkable sites:

Holy Island

Holy Island, also known as Lindisfarne, holds a special place in the history of early English Christianity.  It was here that a vibrant monastic community was established in the 7th century, which became a beacon of learning and spirituality.

The island’s priory, built in the 11th century on the site of an earlier church, served as a centre of pilgrimage and devotion. St Aidan, an Irish monk from Iona, was invited by King Oswald of Northumbria and founded the Lindisfarne Priory in 635.  Although now in ruins, the priory’s majestic arches and weathered stones evoke a sense of awe and wonder.

St. Cuthbert’s Chapel

Close to Holy Island and a short boat trip from Seahouses are the Farne Islands, a cluster of islands that were once home to St. Cuthbert, a revered figure in early English Christianity. Cuthbert, known for his humility and devotion, lived as a hermit on Inner Farne in the late 7th century.

A small chapel dedicated to him stands on the island, marking the spot where he resided and prayed. Visiting this simple yet evocative chapel allows you to connect with the spirit of St. Cuthbert.

Ad Gefrin and the River Glen

The Ad Gefrin archaeological site offers a glimpse into royal life during the 7th century. Even more significant is its connection to St. Paulinus, who played a pivotal role in bringing Christianity to Northumbria.

As recorded by the Venerable Bede, St. Paulinus in AD 627 baptised converts in the nearby River Glen. Imagine standing on the same riverbank where such a pivotal moment in early English Christianity occurred!

The act of baptism signified a turning point for the Anglo-Saxons, marking their acceptance of a new belief system that would profoundly shape their society and culture.

The museum at Ad Gefrin, in Wooler, is a celebration of the golden age of Anglo Saxon Northumbria.  Sutton Hoo was a celebration of death but this is a collection around life, with jewellery, ceramics, weaponry and arts.  One of the finest pieces of Anglo Saxon glassware, the Castle Eden claw beaker, has been lent by the British Museum.

And if you are looking for the perfect way to round off your trip, be sure to stop off at the amazing café, shop and distillery.

Bamburgh and the ‘Bamburgh Bones’

Bamburgh with its castle, perched dramatically on its rocky outcrop, boasts an intriguing new addition: the ‘Bamburgh Bones’ crypt. This exhibition in St Aidan’s Church showcases skeletons discovered during a castle dig, believed to be some of the earliest Christian burials in the region. Their presence adds another layer to the story of Bamburgh’s early Christian community, centred around St. Aidan.

Exploring Further

Northumberland is dotted with other sites of Anglo-Saxon Christian interest:

Hexham Abbey: Be sure to visit this abbey, which holds the tomb of St. Wilfrid, another key figure in the spread of Christianity in the region.

St. Cuthbert’s Way: For the more adventurous, this long-distance walking trail retraces St. Cuthbert’s final journey, offering a unique way to connect with the landscape and history.

Revel in the Anglo-Saxon History of Northumberland with a Stay at Brunton Cottages

On your next visit to Northumberland, consider incorporating these historical gems into your itinerary. It’s a chance to reflect on the faith that shaped early England and to experience the enduring legacy of the Anglo-Saxons.

And what better place to unwind after a day of exploring than our cosy cottages, nestled in the heart of Northumberland’s breath-taking landscape? With modern amenities and tranquil surroundings, Brunton Cottages provides the perfect base for your historical adventure.

Book your stay today!