Archaeologists believe that the remains of a monastery founded by Princess Æbbe have finally been located. It was founded near the village of Coldingham in England by the Princess nearly 1,400 years ago. It was destroyed two hundred years by Viking raiders.
Excavations have found traces a large, narrow ditch, which is believed to be the boundary. A pile of animal bones nearby were carbon dated to be from 660 to 860.
“The section of boundary ditch we found links up with two other ditch sections, and together they seem to encircle Coldingham Priory, meaning that the heart of Æbbe’s monastery is somewhere underneath it,” said Manda Forster from DigVentures told BBC News. “Originally built around 640 it is said to have burned down shortly after her death, but was then rebuilt and thrived until it was destroyed once again by Viking raiders 200 years later,” she added.
Previous attempts had been made to find the monastery nearer to the coast. “It is brilliant to finally be able to announce that we’ve found Æbbe’s monastery, and to confirm that part of it is probably underneath Coldingham Priory,” said Manda Forster. “Æbbe is an extraordinary figure – an example of a powerful Anglo Saxon woman who played a big part in establishing Christianity in the region during the 7th Century. Now that we’ve got evidence to pinpoint exactly where her monastery was, we can help bring her story back to life.”
Princess Æbbe was the daughter of Acha of Deira and Æthelfrith, King of Bernicia (lands were approximately equivalent to the modern English counties of Northumberland and Durham, and the Scottish counties of Berwickshire and East Lothian).