adapted from a design by George Bain based on the Book of Kells home Programme Bookings Shop The Wuffings .
Wuffing Education

Formidable Abbesses
and Female Saints of Early England

St ∆thelthryth

with Dr Sam Newton

at Tranmer House, Sutton Hoo (map)
on Saturday 15th October 2005

N owhere is the power of women in early England more evident than in the number of canonised royal abbesses. Among the Wuffings we have the daughters of Rædwald’s nephew, King Anna. These include the famous St Æthelthryth, founding abbess of Ely, St Seaxburh, queen of Kent and founding abbess of Minster on Sheppey, and St Wihtburh, Abbess of Dereham.
St Seaxburh provides the genealogical link between the Wuffings and the Æscing dynasty of Kent and the formidable royal ladies there, such as St Mildred, founding abbess of Minster on Thanet. Also related to the Wuffings was the famous Northumbrian Abbess St Hilda and her sister St Hereswith, who was married to Rædwald’s nephew Æthelric.
Finally, we shall consider the extraordinary story of St Balthild, a lady of apparently English, possibly even East Anglian, noble family who was captured by Franks and sold as a slave, but who later became a princess, queen, abbess and saint.

Provisional Programme
  10.00 Coffee on arrival  
  10.15 Female Power in Early England  
  11.15 Coffee  
  11.30 The Daughters of King Anna  
  12.30 Lunch break  
  14:00 Wuffings and Æscings  
  15:00 Tea break  
  15:15 Other Royal Abbesses of Early England  
  16:15 Close  

About Dr Sam Newton

Sam Newton was awarded his Ph.D in 1991 and his first book, The Origins of Beowulf and the pre-Viking Kingdom of East Anglia, was published in 1993. He is a Director of Wuffing Education and Time Team historian has been researching, lecturing, and writing as an independent scholar in Wuffing and Early Medieval Studies for many years. His latest book, The Reckoning of King Rædwald, was published in 2003.


Some suggestions for further reading
(useful but not essential)

Ellis Davidson, H., Gods and Myths of Northern Europe (Penguin 1964)
Fairweather, J. [tr.] Liber Eliensis – A History of the Isle of Ely from the Seventh to the Eleventh Century (Boydell 2005)
Farmer, D.H., The Oxford Dictionary of Saints (Oxford 1978)
Gallyon, M., The Early Church in Eastern England (Lavenham 1973)
James, E.,The Franks (Oxford 1988)
Mayr-Harting, H., The Coming of Christianity to Anglo-Saxon England (Oxford 1977)
Newton, S., The Reckoning of King Rædwald (Redbird Press 2003)
Prescott, A., The Benedictional of St Ethelwold (London 1999)
Rollason, D., Northumbria 500-1100 (Cambridge 2003)
Scarfe, Norman, Suffolk in the Middle Ages (Boydell 1986)
Sherley-Price, L., Bede: A History of the English Church and People (Penguin Classics 1955, 1968)
Witney. K.P., The Kingdom of Kent (Phillimore 1982)


Please phone or email to check the availability of places and then send the application form and a cheque for £38, payable to Wuffing Education to:

Wuffing Education,
4 Hilly Fields,
Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 4DX
(tel : 01394 386498)

Email cliff AT
(replace 'AT' by '@' in order to send email - we used 'AT' to avoid spam robots automatically sending us emails)

Return to list of current Study Days


We have learnt of the fame of the Wuffing folk-lords of long ago, of how those wolf-kings held the ancestral land of East Anglia....
Updated 3 December, 2009
Website by
Adroit Solutions Ltd