23rd April 685. Move to Nationhood.

Today the Venerable Bede would be looking out at the Nissan car factory.

Today, a Sunday in 685, the dedication of the Venerable Bede’s church in Jarrow, Northumbria, took place.

The dedication stone says: ‘The dedication of this church of St. Paul ninth of the Kalends of May, fifteenth year of king Ecgfrith. The fourth of Ceolfrith abbot also founder under God of the same church’. The stone is now embedded in the tower wall of the church,


Remains of Bede’s Jarrow Monastery.

Jarrow was founded on land given by the king at the mouth of the River Wear, in Saxon Northumbria, to a wealthy patron Benedict Biscop in 682 (died 12th January 690). He was the first abbot to dedicate art to the service of Christianity.(1)

Jarrow was a joint monastery to Monkwearmouth, founded by Biscop, seven miles away, and it was from there that his protege Bede was to move to Jarrow.


The Germanic arrival coincided with many Irish missions, one of which was to land at Iona in 563 under Columba. This spread east to Lindisfarne and the Northumbria of Bede who was to be the first historian of the English, and many stories of the early bishops, such as Chad come from him, via information from a monk trained in Lichfield by Chad.

Bede’s history starts with Julius Caesar and ends with Britain in 731. His monastery lay in a crook of the River Don, which enters the Tyne at Jarrow.



Glass fragments found and re-arranged in a circular window in the chancel of St Peter’s Church, Jarrow.

Christianity spread when Elchfrida, daughter of King Oswui of Northumbria married Peada son of Penda the last great heathen king of Mercia.

She then brought down missionary priests including Diuma, who became the first Bishop of the Mercians at Repton.

Further missionary work was undertaken by Adda and Cedd (Chad) at Lichfield, Staffordshire.

The Saxons had waited to be courted by Irish monks and Roman emissaries and so Bede’s Northumbria thus became the first truly Christian kingdom, and under Wilfred looked likely to impose the Celtic model. However this was not to be.

The former barbarians of Northumbria thus became a powerhouse of European civilisation, embracing Irish culture and making links with Scots, Picts, Europe and significantly, Rome.

Bede pioneered the use of the Anno-Domini (AD) dating system, which the barbarians assimilated along with Roman Christianity and Latin culture, to eventually becoming part of European Christendom.

So when the West Saxon kings of the 10th century gradually unified as English, they had the model of Bede’s, Gens Anglorum (birth of the English), which included the Celts, to inspire a notion of one nation.

Near the end of his history Bede speaks of ‘the most grave Arab peril’, perhaps speaking of the 732 Muslim defeat by Charles Martel at Tours in southern France. But it was a threat which The Catholic Church, having once embraced and monopolized, the Mediterranean, now caused it to look northwards.

(1) [St] Benedict Biscop had once studied the Benedictine Rule.

The only English church consecrated to his name is in Wombourn, Staffordshire.

Ref: northeasthistory.blogspot/the-oldest-glass-in-the-world. Pic Ref.re window.

Ref: wikipedia.org/Pic Ref. re Jarrow Monastery.



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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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