The Journal of Antiquities

Ancient Sites In Great Britain & Southern Ireland


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The Calderstones, Allerton, Merseyside

The Calderstones (Photo Credit: Sue Adair (Geograph)

The Calderstones  (Photo Credit: Sue Adair (Geograph)

Os grid reference: SJ 4052 8757. Inside the palm house of the Calderstones Park Botanical Gardens at Allerton, Merseyside (originally in the county of Lancashire), stand 6 prehistoric megaliths known as The Calderstones, or the Caldwaye Stones, which are said to have come from a burial mound in the Allerton area back in the 1840s, although there is a record of them as far back as 1568 when they were being used as boundary markers and, at that time there were only three of them on view; the other three stones were excavated in the mid-19th century. These stones are thought to have ‘once circled’ the low mound which apparently had a burial chamber, or possibly a passage-grave at its centre. They are of interest, also, because they have carvings (rock-art) on them. The six standing stones, as they have always been referred to, were eventually brought to the Palm House in Calderstones Park, having stood near the entrance on Calderstones road (A562) and, opposite the aptly-named Druids Cross road. Liverpool city centre is 1 mile to the east.

The Calderstones, Allerton (1824)

The Calderstones, Allerton (1824)

The six stones range in height between 3-8 feet and probably date from the Bronze-Age. They are made of a hard sandstone. Of great interest are the carvings on them, there are a number of cup-and-ring marks on each one as well as spirals, and some other carvings that are more uncertain. When the mound at Allerton was excavated clay urns containing cremated bones and other artefacts were found, according to Mr W.A.Herdman in his work ‘A Contribution To The History of The Calder Stones near Liverpool’ (1896), adding credence to the probability that this was a burial chamber or passage-grave, but it could well have been a cairn circle due to the very fact that ‘these’ six megaliths had been discovered here; the stones would have almost certainly surrounded the chamber within the low burial mound (tumulus).

In 1845 the six Calder Stones were re-erected at the entrance to the park, and in 1864 they were examined by Sir James Simpson who declared them to be ‘part of a stone circle’; it was Sir James who identified the cup-marks and spirals and also wrote about them in 1865-7. In 1964 the stones were re-housed inside the Palm House (also called the Harthill Greenhouses), and here they stand as a fitting tribute to the antiquarians who discovered them back in the Victorian age.

Sources:

Photo credit:  Sue Adair (Geograph) © Copyright Sue Adair and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Geograph: http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/401915

Fields, Kenneth., Lancashire Magic & Mystery, Sigma Leisure, Wilmslow, Cheshire, 1998.

Herdman, W.A., “A Contibution To The History of The Calderstones, near Liverpool”, Proceedings & Transactions of the Liverpool Biological Society, volume 11, 1896.

Simpson, James., “On the cup-cuttings and ring-cuttings on the Calderstones, near Liverpool”, Proceedings & Transactions of the Liverpool Biological Society, Volume 17, 1865.

Please see Paul Bennett’s very interesting, enthusiastic and in-depth site-page on The Northern Antiquarian: http://megalithix.wordpress.com/2014/07/08/calderstones/


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Long Stone Of Punchestown, Naas, Co. Kildare, Southern Ireland

Long Stone Of Punchestown.

Long Stone Of Punchestown.

Irish grid reference: N 9171 1656. This very impressive Bronze-Age standing stone known as Long Stone Of Punchestown, or Punchestown Standing Stone, one of the finest examples of its kind, according to ‘Nicholson’s Guide To Ireland,’ stands surrounded by a wooden fence in a field just outside the perifery of Punchestown racecourse, just to the east of Craddockstown road, and south of the town of Naas, in County Kildare. However the monument is not that easy to reach. It is almost certainly the tallest standing stone in Ireland and is similar to some of the standing stones that are to be found in Brittany. In 1931 it fell over but it was re-erected 3 years later and, at the same time a burial cist was found at its base. There are several other standing stones in this area but none of them are as tall as this particular one. The town of Naas is 1 mile to the north, Blessington is 3 miles to the south-east on the R410 road, Kildare is 7 miles to the west on the M7, while the city of Dublin is 5 miles north-east on the N81 and N82 roads.

Today the granite standing stone of Punchestown is only 5.7 metres high (19.6 feet) having originally being a massive 7.1 metres high (23 feet); its circumference at its square-shaped base is 11 feet, but this gradually gets less as the stone tapers away to its shaped-needle point at the top. However beneath the ground the stone is said to be dug in by several feet. In 1931 the stone fell over but was re-erected in 1934 by less than 3 feet because it was considered to be unsafe due to the extra height. Whilst it was being re-erected a cist-type grave was discovered at the base, although no human bones or grave-goods were found. It is said to weigh over 9 tonnes. There are another seven tall standing stones in County Kildare, two of which can each be found respectively:- just along the road at Craddockstown West, and at Furness, near Naas, stands The Forenaghts Great Stone, although neither of these can really rival The Longstone of Punchestown

According to legend, the stone was hurled by the mythical Irish giant Finn MacCumhaill at his wife, who just so happened to be in Punchestown at the time, from the Hill of Allen to the north-east, or from the Hill of Tara, in County Meath, but as was always the case, he missed her! Another legend tells us that a local big-wig Viscount Allen wanted the stone for his mansion garden some 14 miles away, so he had a number oxen made ready and yoked-up for the effort, but they could only pull it out so far, making it lean at a precarious angle; he eventually gave up and left the stone where it had stood for thousands of years. Apparently the Welsh cleric and historian, Gerald of Wales, made mention of the standing stone when he toured southern Ireland in the 12th century.

Sources:

Nicholson – Guide To Ireland, Robert Nicholson Publications Limited, London W1, 1983.

Reader’s Digest Illustrated Guide To Ireland, (First Edition), The Reader’s Digest Association Limited, London W1X, 1992.

http://www.megalithicireland.com/Punchestown%20Longstone.htm

http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=135

 

 

 

 


Drombeg Stone Circle, Glandore, Co. Cork, Southern Ireland

Drombeg Stone Circle, Glandore, Co. Cork (Photo credit: Aaro Koskinen, WIkipedia).

Drombeg Stone Circle, Glandore, Co. Cork (Photo credit: Aaro Koskinen, WIkipedia).

Irish grid reference: W 2468 1185. Drombeg Stone Circle (An Drom Beag) is a very attractive ancient monument set in an equally lovely landscape, close to the south coast of County Cork. Originally known as ‘The Druid’s Altar’, the circle is located on a hillside, just west of Cregg Lane, near the minor road (R597) almost two miles east of Glandore in the townland of Drumbeg, south of Reanascreena. Although a few of the circle’s stones have now disappeared it is still a reasonably well-preserved monument, which is said to date from the Bronze-Age (2,000-3,000 BC). 40 metres to the west there are a couple of hut circles, a causeway, and a prehistoric settlement with a cooking area (fulach Fiadh) that ‘may’ have continued to be in use at least up until the 5th century AD? The winter soltice can be viewed from the Drombeg circle, indeed there is a very good alignment here. Reanascreena is 6 miles due north, Rosscarberry is 4 miles east, and Skibbereen is 10 miles to the west.

The Drombeg circle covers an area of around 9 metres (30 feet) and, there are 13 stones made of a hard sandstone standing in what is an almost perfect circle; originally there were 17 stones. Two of the stones very sadly went missing and so small boulders were placed into their socket holes. The heights of the stones varies ‘roughly’ between 1 foot 6 inches high to just over 7 feet. The two axial (portal stones) at the west-side are a little over 7 foot high, while the recumbant axis stone (the altar) at the southwest side is 6 feet 3 inches long and has two oval-shaped cup-marks, one having a concentric ring surrounding it. This particular stone has a levelled top which is slightly bevelled, making the surface angled down towards the interior of the circle, and is held in place with wedging stones, according to the 2000 edition of the booklet ‘The Stone Circles of Cork & Kerry’ by Jack Roberts. From this stone the rays of the setting sun fall at the winter soltice (Eyres & Kerrigan ‘ Ireland – Landmarks, Landscapes & Hidden Treasures’ 2008). Originally there was a burial pit in the centre of the circle, but this is now covered-over with chippings and gravel, just as it was originally. The axial orientation or azimuth of this circle is recorded as being: 228 degrees and near to 225.50 (Roberts ‘The Stone Circles of Cork & Kerry’).

An Archaeological excavation by Prof. E.M. Fahy in the late 1950s examined the construction methods of the circle in some detail, but a more interesting find was a burial pit at the centre of the circle. The author Jack Roberts in his work ‘The Stone Circles of Cork & Kerry’ says: “A burial pit was found near the centre of the circle which contained a broken pot and some cremated bone. Other burial pits in and around the circle were found to contain strange mixtures of broken stone and pottery all as carefully deposited as the human burial in the circle. These curious burials were found at other circles excavated in the area and it appears to be a characteristic of the rites attached to the circles. The interior of the circle was originally paved with small flat pebbles and appears to have been kept clear of growth for some considerable period after construction and Fahy remarked upon the careful tidiness of the site, a factor which accentuated the sanctity of the site.” There may have been a single standing stone at the centre of the circle, but by the turn of the century this had disappeared.

The author Jack Roberts ‘The Stone Circles of Cork & Kerry’  referring to the winter solitice alignment at Drombeg says: “It is possible that a deeply etched mark on the north-side Entrance Stone is the marker for such observations and the stamped earth at the Entrance also contributes to the possibility that this is a position that the observer would have stood to make the annual observations.

40 metres to the west stands an ancient settlement that could date from the Iron-Age, if not earlier, but the most interesting aspect to this site is the classic “cooking place” known as a (filuch fiadh). There are two hut circles that are interconnected, and a stone trough with what would originally have been a well, all being linked together by a stone causeway. Water collected from the well and, also food stuffs including meat, would have been boiled and cooked with heated stones in the trough. The causeway would have enabled the ancient people to come to this site over rough, boggy ground. This cooking area and settlement as we said earlier may have been in use during the Iron-Age and, perhaps up until the more recent Celtic period (the Dark Ages).

Sources:

Photo Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drombeg_stone_circle

Roberts, Jack., The Stone Circles of Cork & Kerry,  Bandia Publishing, Drumfin, Co. Sligo, Ireland, 2000.

Eyres, Kevin & Kerrigan, Michael., Ireland – Landmarks, Landscapes & Hidden Treasures, Flame Tree Publishing, Fulham, London, United Kingdom, 2008.

Reader’s Digest, Illustrated Guide To Ireland, (First Edition), The Reader’s Digest Association Limited, London, 1992.


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St Tudclud’s Church, Penmachno, Conwy (Bwrdeistref Sirol), North Wales

The Carausius Stone, Penmachno, Gwynedd

The Carausius Stone, Penmachno, Gwynedd

Os grid reference: SH 7899 5059. In the village of Penmachno, Conwy, stands St Tudclud’s Church, a rather unassuming Victorian building which houses a collection of Romano-British memorial stones. But these stones are now known to be of great historical importance with regard to Wales at the end of Roman occupation (the early 5th century AD). One of these stones recalls Carausius, a young Irishman who migrated to Wales and proclaimed himself emperor of the Celtic west, the other stone is in memory of the cousin of a magistrate, perhaps the first-known person with the title of a court official. The church is located on Llewelyn street, and is dedicated to the little-known Celtic saint, Tudclud, also known as Tyddud. A Roman camp stood close to where the church is - now alas little more than a few grassy earthworks in a field. The village lies 3 miles to the south-west of the A5 road, 4 miles south of the Conwy Valley and Bettws-y-Coed, 8 miles east of Pentrefoelas, and 12 miles north-east of Ffestiniog.

In the church of St Tudclud there are five very interesting inscribed memorial stones which date from the late 5th to early 6th century. In particular two of these stones, one recalling Carausius, and the other in memory of Cantiorix are of very specific historic importance. The Carausius Stone is a flat-shaped grave-cover inscribed in Latin to the memory of CARAUSIUS HICIACIT INHOCCON GERIESLA PIDUM or ‘Here lies Carausius in this heap of stones.’ Also inscribed on this stone are the Greek letters “X” and “P” the first two letters of the word Christ (Christos), which here form a four-rayed cross known as a Chi-Rho monagram. Legend tells us that Carausius, also known as Crair or Caron, was the hero of the Britons during the 3rd century AD. He proclaimed ‘himself’ King and Emperor of the Celtic west, and stood up to the might of the Roman army who, in turn, regarded him as ‘something of an annoyance.’ A church was dedicated to him at Tregaron, Gwynedd, because he was regarded as a saint in this part of the Celtic fringe.

The Cantiorix Stone, Penmachno, Gwynedd

The Cantiorix Stone, Penmachno, Gwynedd

Another interesting stone has a Latin inscription (on both faces) recalling Cantiorix the cousin of Maglos. It reads: CANTIORI HIC IACIT VENEDOTTI CIVES FUIT CONSOBRENAS MAGLI MAGISTRATI or ‘Cantiorix lies here, a citizen of Gwynedd, and cousin of Maglos the magistrate,’ The Magistrate Stone was found at Beddau Gwyr Ardudwy near Ffestiniog. It is thought to be the only known example of a person being linked to that of a court official and almost certainly dates from the 5th century. A third stone has the inscription ORIA HIC IACIT which simply means: ‘Oria lies here,’ while a fourth stone reads: FILI AVITORI INTEMPORE IUSTINI CONSULIS or ‘The son of Avitorus in the time of Justinus the Consul,’ which perhaps relates to a consul of Constantinople in the year 540? A large, square-shaped stone has two letters “L” and “R” carved onto it. A couple of these stones were found in the fabric of the church when it was being rebuilt in 1856, but they may originally have come from the nearby Roman camp. The font is thought to be 12th century.

A sixth gravestone is of the 13th century and commemorates prince Iorwerth ab Owain Gwynedd (Iorwerth Drwyndwn), who died in 1174 and was the eldest son of Owain, King of Gwynedd. And another slightly more recent slab-stone, maybe from the 8th century, has only an inscribed cross upon it. The patron saint of this church is Tudclud, or Tyddud, a 6th century monk who was said to have been the son of Seithenyn, King of Cantref-y-Gwaelod (the Lowland Hundred), the drowned kingdom off the Cardigan coast. Not much is known about him other than he founded a monastery here at Penmachno and was the brother of St Arwystyl, who was a monk at Bangor Fawr, and St Collen of Llangollen. There is a legend that says King Seithenyn was so drunk one night that he forgot to close the sea-gates and, by the morning his kingdom had been completely ‘lost to the sea,’ according to Nigel Pennick in his very interesting book ‘Lost Cities And Sunken Lands’ 1997.

Sources:

Barber, Chris., More Mysterious Wales, Paladin Books, London, 1987.

Gregory, Donald., Country Churchyards In Wales, Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, Llanrwst, Wales, 1991.

Gregory, Donald., Wales – Land Of Mystery And Magic, Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, Llanrwst, Wales, 1999.

Holder, Christopher., Wales: An Archaeological Guide, Faber & Faber, London. 1978.

Pennick, Nigel., Lost Cities And Sunken Lands, (Revised & Updated 2nd Edition), Capall Bann Publishing, Chieveley, Berks, 1997.

The Quest for Arthur’s Britain, edited by Geoffrey Ash, Paladin Books, St Albans, Herts, 1976.

http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=16831


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St Winifred’s Well, Woolston, Shropshire

St Winifred's Well at Woolston (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

St Winifred’s Well at Woolston (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

Os grid reference: SJ 3225 2435. In the centre of the little village of Woolston, Shropshire, a few miles east of the Welsh border, is St Winifred’s Well, which rather curiously flows out from beneath a wooden building. This cottage was apparently once in use as the local court-house! The well has been a place of pilgrimage since the 12th century when the saint’s relics were rested here on their way to Shrewsbury Abbey, although it has never been as famous as the other St Winifred’s well at Holywell, Flintshire, but like that one this well was also built with the endowments of Lady Margaret Beaufort in the early 1500s. It was said to have had miraculous healing qualities. The place-name Woolston is derived from Walla-ton and Wella-ton with the ‘s’ added later, which both include the well in early reference, and probably meaning ‘well/spring beside a farmstead.’ The Welsh border is 4 miles to the west, Oswestry 4 miles north, and Shrewsbury 9 miles south on the A5 road.

The holy well of St Winifred at Woolston seems to have been a place of pilgrimage and healing since the year 1138 when the saint’s relics were being brought by monks from Gwytherin in north Wales to Shrewsbury abbey where they were placed with those of her uncle, St Beuno. But Woolston seems to have become known due to the number of pilgrims being healed there after the saint’s relics were rested on their journey to Shrewsbury, though the spring was almost certainly there long before that; and so could it have had another dedication before the arrival of St Winifred! The half-timbered building which the well flows from beneath is said to date from the 16th-17th century and may have replaced an earlier chapel, according to Janet & Colin Bord in their book ‘Sacred Waters’ 1985. The authors go on to say: “Through the gate a path soon reaches the well cottage, and the well itself and the pool into which it flows are behind the cottage. The various stone troughs through which the water flows could be dammed up to form bathing pools.

‘Source – The Holy Wells Journal’ Autumn 1994 has some interesting information on this well in its section called ‘The Other St Winifred’s Wells’. It says this is: “a rare example of a well covered by a secular building, in this case a half-timbered cottage originally used as a court-house. The present sixteenth or seventeenth-century building may have succeeded a chapel…. the well itself and the pool into which it flows are seen behind the cottage.” The Journal goes on to say: “that the house replaced a medieval well-chapel is in fact far from certain; and even the patronage of St Winifred is atested only from the early 19th century.” And it says: “Woolston Well, dedicated, according to Hulbert’s History of Salop (1838) to St Winifred. Some have sought to explain this dedication (now locally forgotten) by supposing that the relics of St Winifred may have rested here on their way from Gwytherin in North Wales to Shrewsbury Abbey, in the twelfth century; but it is easily accounted for by the fact that certain small stones spotted with indelible red marks singularly resembling bloodstains are occasionally found in the water, which have obviously led to the former localizing here of the legend of the well which sprang up on the site of St.Winifred’s decapitation.” However, it is now known that these red spots on stones is a type of algae – the very same algae can be seen at Winifred’s other well at Holywell, Flintshire.

The water of the well at Woolston is known to have had the power to heal broken bones and cure bruises and wounds, among other things, much like at Holywell. Of course, most of us know the “Legend” about St Winifred being beheaded by a local chieftain called Caradog at Treffynnon, having refused his advances to her. But she was healed by her uncle, St Beuno, afterwhich she became abbess of a convent at Gwytherin in north Wales. When she died in 650 AD her body was placed inside a church at that place; and in the Middle Ages her feast-day was held on 3rd November.

Sources:

Bord, Janet & Colin., Sacred Waters, Paladin Books, London, 1986.

Hulbert, Charles., The History And Description Of The County of Salop, 1837-8.

Hulse, Tristan-Gray & Fry, Roy., Source – The Holy Wells Journal., Vol 1, Cefn, St Asaph, Autumn 1994.

Spencer, Ray., A Guide to the Saints Of Wales and the West Country, Llanerch Enterprises, Felinfach, Lampeter, 1990.

Photo Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woolston,_north_Shropshire


Brandsbutt Stone, Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Brandsbutt Stone near Inverurie.

Brandsbutt Stone near Inverurie.

Os grid reference: NJ 7599 2240. At the north-side of Inverurie town and at the corner of Brankie Road and Garden Terrace stands the Brandsbutt Stone, a Pictish symbol stone that has been lovingly restored. This large rock has a number of ancient symbols and an Ogham inscription on it. Strangely enough it now stands next to a modern housing development, but two large pieces of it were retrieved from a ditch near Brandsbutt farm, while another piece was found in a wall close by. The stone is sign-posted from the A96. Chapel of Garioch, where stands the famous Maiden Stone another Pictish stone, is 4 miles to the north-west on the A96, while the city of Aberdeen is 13 miles south-east in the opposite direction, also on the A96 road. There are several more Pictish stones in Aberdeenshire.

 

Brandsbutt Stone at Inverurie, Scotland. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Brandsbutt Stone at Inverurie, Scotland. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Brandsbutt stone is a class 1 Pictish symbol stone that is 3 foot 6 inches high and over 4 foot wide. It has some interesting carvings on it: a crescent, V-rod, Z-rod and a twisting serpent. There is also an Ogham inscription, a series of notches, recalling IRATADDOARENS which could be simplified as ‘Iratad Doarens….’ with a few notches possibly missing at the end which could be IUS or SIUS? Ogham was the ancient Irish alphabet script widely used in the Celtic west during the 5th-6th centuries, but also used in Scotland at a slightly later date due to the close ties between the two countries. The rock is made of whinestone, much quarried in Scotland, especially in the south.

Thanks to a local man the Brandsbutt Stone has been lovingly restored to what it originally looked like. Two lumps of the stone were rescued in 1899 from a field-dyke dividing two fields and another piece from a wall, a little to the east of Brandsbutt farm, which has now been demolished to make way for the new housing estate (Elizabeth Sutherland ‘The Pictish Guide’). Thankfully, the stone was recognised as being of great historic importance and part of the Pictish kingdom of Scotland which “flourished” during the 8th-9th centuries, but which actually began ‘its life’ as early as the 4th century AD, according to Anthony Jackson in his delightful little book ‘The Pictish Trail’ 1989.

Sources:

Photo Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brandsbutt_Stone

Jackson, Anthony., The Pictish Trail, The Orkney Press Ltd., St Ola, Kirkwall, Orkney, 1989.

Sutherland, Elizabeth., The Pictish Guide, Birlinn Limited, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1997.


Caedmon’s Cross, Whitby, North Yorkshire

Caedmon's Cross at Whitby.

Caedmon’s Cross at Whitby (Front)

Os grid reference: NZ 9009 1126. From Church street it’s a fair-old climb to the top of the precarious flight of 199 steps up to the west side of St Mary’s churchyard, overlooking the river Esk where it meets the north sea; but at the very top we are compensated by the tall monument called Caedmon’s Cross, a late Victorian-style Celtic cross that commemorates the famous 7th century Anglo-Saxon poet, Caedmon. He lived for most of his life at St Hilda’s monastic community of Streonaeshalch (Whitby), the predecessor to the present-day abbey, as a laybrother and herdsman. But Caedmon was to become an outstanding religious poet, and we have St Hilda to thank for that! The cross is richly decorated on all four sides and, although it’s not an ‘ancient’ cross as such – it’s still a remarkably stunning monument. It’s well worth visiting.

Caedmon’s Cross is almost 20 feet high and stands upon a solid stone-base. It was made from a hard type of sandstone quarried close by Hadrian’s Wall; and was set-up in 1898 to commemorate the 7th century poet of Whitby Abbey, founded by the Northumbrian saint, Hilda. The monument is very reminicent of the Bewcastle, Ruthwell and Gosforth Crosses with its panels depicting various Saxon saints, kings and Biblical figures, and there is an inscription recalling Caedmon. On the front side (east face) in 4 panels: Christ in the act of blessing – his feet resting upon a dragon and a swine, King David playing a harp, the abbess Hilda  with her feet on tiny fossilised creatures (ammonites) with a gull by her side, and behind her her five best scholars. Also Caedmon in his stable being inspired to sing his hymn about ‘The Creation’ – below which an inscription: “To the glory of God, and in memory of Caedmon, Father of English sacred song. Fell asleep hard by AD 680.”

Caedmon's Cross, Whitby (East Face)

Caedmon’s Cross, Whitby (Front Face)

On the west face in panels: double vine stems symbolising Christ, loops with 4 scholars of Whitby at the time of Caedmon: Aetla, Bosa, John and Oftgar, below which are carved the first 9 lines of Caedmon’s hymn of Creation. The two sides of the cross show an English rose, birds, animals and an apple tree (Eden). Also, a harp at the foot of The Tree of Life (harmony with Christ). The cross-head is carved on one side with the Agnus Dei and the four Evangelists with their symbols, while the other side has knotwork, bosses, and a dove representing the Holy Ghost.

We know from what Venerable Bede tells us in his ‘Ecclesiastical History Of The English People’ that Caedmon was ignorant, at first, of words and song and, knew nothing much about ‘life and creation’, being teased and mocked by the other monks, but that his life literally changed overnight when he had a wonderful dream in which he was visited by an angel. He was told to compose a hymn about the Creation with our Lord at its ‘very core’. The following morning he rushed to inform abbess Hilda about this dream. Hilda was filled with joy at what she heard and encouraged him to write down what the heavenly angel had revealed. And so the great hymn to ‘God the Creator’ was composed; he even sang it in a angelic voice in front of his fellow monks.

Abbess Hilda invited scholars from the monastery to evaluate Caedmon’s work, and she asked him to take the tonsure of a monk – which he did. But he also set out to write about the Christian Church and compose other religious hymns and poems with the Bible at the heart of each one. Sadly the Creation hymn is Caedmon’s only surviving work and is said to be ‘the oldest recorded Old English poem.’ He is said to have died in the monastery hospice in AD 680 surrounded by his friends after having a premonition of his own death; St Hilda also passed away that year, aged 66. However some accounts claim that Caedmon died in AD 684? The 11th February is St Caedmon’s feast-day. Close by there is a rather battered medieval wayside cross on a circular stepped base.

Sources:

Bede, The Venerable., A History Of The English Church And People, Penguin Books Ltd., Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England, 1982.

Roberts, Andy., Ghosts & Legends of Yorkshire, Jarrold Publishing, Norwich, 1992.

Smith, William., Stories & Tales Of Old Yorkshire., (Ed by Dawn Robinson-Walsh), Printwise Publications, Bury, Lancashire, 1993. (Orig. ed by William Smith in 1883).

http://www.jstor.org/stable/25581386q=2

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C%C3%A6dmon

 

 

 

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