- October 12, 2019
9:15 am - 5:00 pm
Battlefields and Bishoprics: The Heirs of King Rædwald.
with Dr Sam Newton (Director, Wuffing Education)
Please note: the start time is now 10:15am,
not 10:30am shown in earlier publicity
On the feast day of St Edwin (died c.633), the Northumbrian king who had been established on the throne by King Rædwald (died c.625), we shall attempt to chart the history of East Anglia and England up to and including the Battle the River Winwæd on 15th November 655, one of the great battles of early English history.
Our main source for the period, Bede’s Ecclesiastical History, states that Rædwald’s son and successor, Eorpwald, was “persuaded” by Edwin to accept baptism, but was killed soon after.
After three years (c.631), Rædwald’s step-son, Sigeberht, succeeded and the kingdom became stable enough for the Irish abbot Fursey to establish his minster at Cnobheresburh and for Felix to become its first bishop at Dommoc. We shall consider the possible sites of these primary East Anglian spiritual power stations.
Sigeberht appears to have been the first English king to abdicate and retire to a monastery, but he was later killed in battle by Penda of Mercia (c.640). Sigeberht’s successor Ánna (or Onna), father of saints, was also killed by Penda and subsequently buried at Blythburgh (654). Anna’s brother, Æthelhere, succeeded but was killed fighting alongside Penda at the Battle of the River Winwæd a year later. We shall attempt to locate the sites of these events and to elucidate something of the drama behind them.
09.45 – 10.15: Welcome; tea / coffee
10.15 – 11.10: Rædwald’s Sons – Eorpwald & Sigeberht
11.10 – 11.35: Tea / coffee / biscuits
11.35 – 12.30: St Fursey, St Felix, & the Dommoc question
12.30 – 13.45: Lunch break
13.45 – 14.35: Rædwald’s Nephews – Good King Ánna
14.35 – 15.00: Tea / coffee / biscuits
15.00 – 15.50: The Battle of the River Winwæd
15.50: Thanks and Close
About Dr Sam Newton
Sam Newton was awarded his Ph.D. at UEA in 1991. He published his first book, The Origins of Beowulf and the pre-Viking Kingdom of East Anglia, in 1993, and his second, The Reckoning of King Rædwald, in 2003. He is also the author of several academic papers, some of which are available at https://independent.academia.edu/SamNewton. He has lectured widely around the country and contributed to many radio and television programmes, especially Time Team, for whom he worked from 2005 to 2012. He is a tutor for Cambridge University’s Institute of Continuing Education, an accredited Arts’ Society lecturer, and a Director of Wuffing Education at Sutton Hoo.
On a previous Study Day given by Sam when asked ‘What was best about the day?‘ people said:
- Sam’s dynamic presentation – authoritative and witty
- Inspiring lecturer
- Amount of historical information given by Sam
- Hearing Sam’s criticisms of the venomous Bede
- Delivery and depth
- Excellent speaker and slides. The handouts were extremely helpful
- Everything! Excellent day ,thank you
- All of it
Some Suggestions for Optional Background Reading
- 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)
- Hoggett, R., The Archaeology of the East Anglian Conversion (Boydell 2010).
- Kirby, D.P., The Earliest English Kings (London 1991)
- Newton, S., The Reckoning of King Rædwald (Redbird 2003)
- Plunkett, S., Suffolk in Anglo-Saxon Times (Stroud 2005)
- Scarfe, N., The Suffolk Landscape (Hodder & Stoughton 1972, Alastair 1986)
- Warner, P., The Origins of Suffolk (Manchester 1996)
- Whitelock, D., “The Pre-Viking Age Church in East Anglia”, Anglo-Saxon England, I (1972), pp. 1-22.
Venue: The Court, Sutton Hoo