Dr Margaret Coombe

Featured Publication

Saints of North East England 600-1500 (Brepols 2017).

saints of north east england

A collection of essays on saints from the North of England, from 600-1500.

During the seventh and early eighth centuries a number of influential saints’ cults were established within the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria, most notably the cult of St Cuthbert served by the monks of Lindisfarne. Reacting to the Danish incursions of the ninth century, the Lindisfarne community gradually migrated south to Durham, where, in the early eleventh century, the relics of further Northumbrian saints were collected to join those of Cuthbert. Following the re-foundation of the Durham church as a Benedictine house in 1083, the community sought to legitimise itself by stressing its links with an ancient, saintly past. A century later, the cults of new hermit saints such as Godric of Finchale and Bartholomew of Farne, extensively modelled on St Cuthbert’s example, were added to the north-eastern Durham familia.

This volume takes an interdisciplinary approach to these north-eastern saints, offering a comprehensive snapshot of new scholarship within the field. The first section focuses on the most eminent saints and hagiographers of Anglo-Saxon Northumbria: Cuthbert, Wilfrid and Bede. The second section examines their utility for the twelfth-century, Anglo-Norman community at Durham, and surveys the cults which emerged alongside, including the early saint-bishops of Hexham Augustinian priory. The third section reviews the material culture which developed around these saints in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries: their depiction in stained glass, their pilgrimages and processions, and the use of their banners in the Anglo-Scottish wars. A concluding essay re-evaluates the north-eastern cult of saints from post-Reformation perspectives.

  • Medieval Northumbria
  • Hagiography
  • Reginald of Durham

My research focuses on the religious history of the north of England, especially on Latin manuscripts of saints’ lives produced in the twelfth century in Durham and the subsequent dissemination of the cults of those saints. In 2015, I organized a well- attended conference on Northern English Saints, 600-1500 at Lady Margaret Hall in collaboration with colleagues from the departments of English at Warwick and Oxford Universities. The resulting volume, Saints of North East England 600-1500, published by Brepols in 2017, also contained my paper ‘What a Performance: The Songs of St Godric in the Earliest Manuscripts’. I have several research projects in preparation, and my forthcoming publications include Reginald of Durham’s Life of St Godric of Finchale, a text and translation with notes and commentary (with OMT for OUP, due 2019), and a collaborative edition of the French Life of St Godric, edited jointly with Tony Hunt and Anne Mouron, forthcoming 2019.

My Study Skills tutorials are tailored to each individual, covering most disciplines and including such matters as time management, reading skills, essay writing, how to argue your point, tutorial essays, answering the question, note-taking, revision and planning. In 2014 I was awarded the student-led OUSU teaching award for my work in this field, and was nominated again in 2018.

No publications have been listed.

I would like to hear from potential masters and DPhil students regarding Religious or/and Anglo Saxon history, British medieval history, especially hagiography