Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 4186
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Wilkins , Constance L.
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: Textual Production and Reproduction: Hild, Whitby, and the Christianization of the North
  • Source: Old English Newsletter 29, 3 (Spring 1996):
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Conference Paper Abstract
  • Subject (See Also): Archaeology Monasticism Scribes and Scriptoria Whitby, Yorkshire, England- Abbey
  • Geographic Area: British Isles
  • Century: 7-8
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  • Abstract: Bede identifies the monastic site of Whitby as an important educational center, the burial ground of kings, and a cradle of bishops - roles which all suggest that the monastery played a particularly active role in the Christianization of the North of England. Moreover, as the location of the 664 Synod of Whitby, the house, under its influential abbess Hild, was involved in setting the direction for the development of the Church in the Nonh during Nonhumbria's "golden age." The material evidence for Whitby itself is, however, annoyingly ambiguous. Excavations at Whitby have uncovered a significant corpus of sculpture, yet none of it suggests the presence of either a royal cemetery or a panicularly wealthy establishment; we have abundant evidence for textual production (styli, rubbers, book cover mounts) but only one text that is accepted (arguably) as having come from the monastery. The role played by the monastery in the two major historical events with which it is associated, the 664 synod and Cœdmon's miraculous creation of English poetry, is also problematic. While we know the synod took place at Whitby, we do not know what role, if any, the community played in its deliberations; while Bede tells us that Cœdmon's miracle occurred at Whitby. we cannot be cenain that Cœdmon himself ever existed. Perhaps it would be most useful at this point to try to separate what Bede tells us about Whitby from the evidence provided by the site itself. This paper examines the material evidence as it survives, panicularly the evidence for textual production, and compares it with that provided by other early monasteries in the Nonh, in order to locate Whitby within the larger network of productive Christian sites. It then considers the textual reproduction of Whitby by Bede (and later historians), and the ways in which Whitby, Hild, and the role of both in the process of Christianization have been manipulated to suit a variety of political and scholarly agendas [Reproduced by permission of Robert Schicler, the “Abstracts of Papers in Anglo-Saxon Studies” editor, and the editors of the “Old English Newsletter.”].
  • Author's Affiliation: Miami University
  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 1996.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: 00301973
  • Material/Technique :
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