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Bishoprics and Battlefields - East Anglia during the 7th Century

The Gold and Garnet Cross from Ixworth (British Museum)

with Dr Sam Newton

at Tranmer House, Sutton Hoo (map)
on Saturday 18th October 2008

A reappraisal of the history of the Wuffing kingdom following the reign of the great king Rædwald.

Our main source for the period, Bede’s Ecclesiastical History, tells us that the short reign of Rædwald’s son Eorpwald ended in assassination, but with the succession of Sigeberht, Rædwald’s step-son, c.631, the kingdom was stable enough for the establishment of Felix as the first bishop of the Eastern Angles at Dommoc and of the Irish abbot Fursey at Cnobheresburh. We shall consider the possible locations of these major ecclesiastical sites.

Sigeberht appears to have been the first English king to abdicate to become a monk, but was killed in battle c.640 by Penda of Mercia, perhaps near Devil’s Dyke. Sigeberht’s successor Anna (or Onna), father of saints, was also killed by Penda c.654 near Blythburgh, perhaps at Bulcamp, while Anna’s successor, his brother Æthelhere, was killed fighting alongside Penda at the Battle of the River Winwæd a year later (c.655). We shall attempt to locate the sites of these events and to elucidate something of the drama behind them.
After the fall of Penda, during the long reign of Ealdwulf (c.664-713), the second East Anglian bishopric was established at Helmham, the possible sites of which we shall examine.

Provisional Programme
  10.00 Coffee on arrival  
  10.15 Rædwald's Sons - Eorpwald & Sigeberht  
  11.15 Coffee  
  11.40 St Felix and the Dommoc Question  
  12.40 Lunch break  
  14:00 The Rise and Fall of Penda of Mercia  
  15:00 Tea break  
  15:15 The Helmham Question  
  16:15 Close  

About Dr Sam Newton

Sam Newton was awarded his Ph.D at the University of East Anglia in 1991 and published his first book, The Origins of Beowulf and the pre-Viking Kingdom of East Anglia, in 1993, which has been reprinted three times since. He has lectured widely around the country as a free-lance scholar and has also contributed to many television and radio programmes. His latest book, The Reckoning of King Rædwald, was published in 2003. He is currently a Director of Wuffing Education, NADFAS lecturer, and Time Team historian.

Some suggestions for further reading
(useful but not essential)

Bruce-Mitford, R., Aspects of Anglo-Saxon Archaeology (Gollancz 1974)
Farmer, D.H., The Oxford Dictionary of Saints (Oxford 1978)
Gallyon, M., The Early Church in Eastern England (Lavenham 1973)
Higham, N., An English Empire: Bede and the Early Anglo-Saxon Kings (Manchester 1995)
Higham, N., The Convert Kings: Power and Religious Affiliation in Early Anglo-Saxon England (Manchester 1997)
Kirby, D.P., The Earliest English Kings (London 1991)
Newton, S., The Reckoning of King Rædwald (Redbird 2003)
Scarfe, N., The Suffolk Landscape (Hodder & Stoughton 1972, Alastair 1986)
Sherley-Price, L., Bede: A History of the English Church and People (Penguin Classics 1955, 1968)
Warner, P., The Origins of Suffolk (Manchester 1996)

Bookings

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 wuffingeducation.co.uk
(replace 'AT' by '@' in order to send email - we used 'AT' to avoid spam robots automatically sending us emails)
Website www.wuffingeducation.co.uk

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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....
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