St Botulf the Exorcist
with Dr Sam Newton
at Sutton Hoo, Saturday, 28th June 2014.


The day before the eve of his festival in the Orthodox calendar (30th June), we shall attempt to trace the largely forgotten history of this famous but little known saint through the literature, art, archaeology, and landscapes associated with him and his cult.

Bede makes no mention of Botulf, yet his mentor St Ceolfrith visited “Abbot Botwulf” in East Anglia around the year 670 according to The Life of St Ceolfrith. This describes Botulf as “proclaimed on all sides to be a man of unparalleled life and learning, and full of the grace of the Holy Spirit” (4). We shall see that this high ecclesiastical reputation related to his fame as a pioneer of Benedictine monasticism in England, which began at his famous foundation to which the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle refers as Ican Hó. We shall weigh the evidence for its most likely location on the former island on which the church of St Botulf at Iken in Suffolk now stands.

We shall also consider St Botulf’s reputation as an exorcist and as a patron saint of travellers, especially those crossing water.

Provisional Programme

09.50 – 10.15:                Coffee on arrival
10.15 – 11.15:                St Botulf and the Wuffings
11.15 – 11.45:                Coffee break
11.45 – 12.45:                St Botulf ‘s Minster
12.45 – 14.00:                Lunch break
14.00 – 15.00:                 St Botulf the Exorcist
15.00 – 15.20:               Tea break
15.20 – 16.20:                The Cult of St Botulf
c.16.20:                            Thanks and Close


Some Suggestions for Optional Background Reading:

Dunn, M., The Christianization of the Anglo-Saxons, c.597–c.700 (London, 2009)

Garmonsway, G., & J.Simpson, Beowulf and Its Analogues (Dent 1968, 1980)

Heaney, S. (tr.), Beowulf (Faber & Faber 1999)

Hoggett, R., The Archaeology of the East Anglian Conversion (Woodbridge 2010)

Mayr-Harting. H., The Coming of Christianity to Anglo-Saxon England (London 1972)

Newton, S., The Origins of Beowulf and the pre-Viking Kingdom of East Anglia (Brewer 1993).

Orchard, A., Pride and Prodigies: Studies in the Monsters of the Beowulf Manuscript (Brewer 1995)

Plunkett, S.J.& S.E.West, A Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Material from Suffolk, East Anglian Archaeology 84 [Suffolk 1998], pp.328, 344-45.

Rackham, O., A History of the Countryside (London 1986).

Scarfe, Norman., “St Botolph, The Iken Cross, and the Coming of East Anglian Christianity”, Suffolk in the Middle Ages (Boydell 1986), pp.39-51.

Shippey, T. A., The Road to Middle-earth (Allen & Unwin 1982; rev. edn Harper Collins 2003)

Shippey, T.A. (ed.), The Shadow-walkers: Jacob Grimm’s Mythology of the Monstrous, Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies, Series V, 291)

Stevenson, F.S. “St Botolph (Botwulf) and Iken”, Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History, 18 (1924), pp.30-52.

Trubshaw, Bob (ed.), Explore Phantom Black Dogs (Heart of Albion 2005)

West, S.E., N.Scarfe, & R.Cramp, “Iken, St Botolph, and the Coming of East Anglian Christianity”, Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History, XXXV (1984), pp.279-301.

About Dr Sam Newton

samSam Newton was awarded his Ph.D in 1991 and is the author of The Origins of Beowulf and the pre-Viking Kingdom of East Anglia (1993) and The Reckoning of King Rædwald (2003). He has lectured widely around the country as an independent scholar and has contributed to many radio and television programmes, especially Time Team.. He is a Director of Wuffing Education, NADFAS lecturer, and tutor for Cambridge University’s Institute of Continuing Education.