Indeed Oswald might have brought a squad of monks with him to provide spiritual gravitas, (hopefully these were unaware of how many of their brethren Aethelfrith
had killed at Bangor, God's day off).
(18) He records Augustine of Canterbury resorting to the authority of miracle to persuade the recalcitrant British bishops and scholars to adhere to Rome's method of dating; the bishops tentatively agree but later go back on their word and are punished accordingly when Aethelfrith
and the English army obliterate them (EH, 134-37).
The remains have not been dated but each of the skulls were split at the top, suggesting battle injuries which some say points to the Battle of Chester won by King Aethelfrith
of Northumbria in 616AD.
Some were pagans, but most after AEthelfrith
were Christian, with occasional throwbacks.
| 604: Oswald born, son of Aethelfrith
, ruler of Bernicia, which extended from the Forth to the Tees and Acha of the kingdom of Deira, whose territory stretched from the Tees to the Humber.
The massacre reminds us also of a similar horror at the beginning of Anglo-Saxon history, the slaughter of 1200 monks of Bangor by King AEthelfrith
of Northumbria in 605.
Under King Aethelfrith
, the kingdom had been forged from two competing dynasties, and under King Edwin, the Northumbrian rulers began to adopt Christianity, having been converted from the worship of their pagan gods by missionaries from Kent.
The tale - patchy though it is - gets going with a woman, Acha Yffing, wife of Aethelfrith
Iding, overlord of North Britain and "perhaps the greatest Early Medieval warlord".
The daughter of Aethelfrith
, King of Northumbria, she became the first Abbess of Coldingham, a monastery on the Berwickshire coast which was visited by St Cuthbert.
The grandson of King Ida of Bamburgh, Aethelfrith
, conquered Deira but was later killed in battle in 616 by the deposed Deiran king, Edwin.
King Ida kept the native British name of Din Guaroy for the Bamburgh stronghold, but 50 years later the name was changed to Bebbanburg, apparently after Bebba, the wife of Ida's grandson Aethelfrith
St Oswald was the eldest son of the pagan King Aethelfrith
of Bernicia and was born in 605, probably at Yeavering near Wooler in Northumer- land.