New Book on St Wilfrid

Back in 2009, it was the 1300th anniversary of the death of St Wilfrid. Or the 1299th. But still. There were two conferences held, one in Manchester and one York, and the combined proceedings are now out as N. J. Higham (ed.), Wilfrid: Abbot, Bishop, Saint (Donington, 2013). It is available direct from Shaun Tyas.

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Wilfrid: Abbot, Bishop, Saint

I won’t review the book as I did Guy Halsall’s earlier this year, mainly because I’m in it with a short piece on hagiographical constructs (“Wilfrid and the Frisians”). Still, it needs some mention because Wilfrid was a character who crossed through many of the worlds of the Merovingians and beyond. He spent time in Lindisfarne, Lyon and Rome in his youth, is famous for his ecclesiastical empire-building and multiple times in exile from Northumbria, and he seems to have had a particular interest in promoting the unity of a Rome-centred Church culture which went beyond what many people had sought to establish. And, as Martin Ryan pointed out at the Manchester conference, how no one ever just murdered Wilfrid is quite astonishing considering how unpopular he seemed to be with kings and others across Western Europe. (The man-hunt in Austrasia for him after the murder of Dagobert II in 679 is a real ‘highlight’ for a Northumbrian bishop…).

Anyway, the book is almost a who’s-who of Wilfrid studies with essays by (in order): Alan Thacker, Clare Stancliffe, Sarah Foot, Fran Lopez, Nick Higham, Mark Laynesmith, Sandra Duncan, Chris Grocock, Richard Bailey, Jane Hawkes, Eric Cambridge, Paul Bidwell, Jesse Billett, Paul Fouracre, Ian Wood, Eamonn O Carragain & Alan Thacker, me, Thomas Charles-Edwards, Morn Capper, Damian Tyler, Alaric Trousdale, Trent Foley and Katy Cubitt.

Sadly Richard Hall, one of the principal architects of the York conference and the volume, died in 2011 before seeing the volume’s appearance. Nick Higham’s preface provides a nice tribute to him, which includes a full bibliography of Richard’s work 1972-2011.

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