Northumberland Holidays
Northumberland Holidays
Before 440
440 - 789
789 - 1000
1000 - 1400
1400 - 1700
After 1700
The History of Northumberland 440 - 789

Lindisfarne Castle, Holy Island Anglo-Saxon Northumbria
The story of Northumberland during the early Dark Ages is uncertain. This is largely because the German tribes who invaded Britain in the aftermath of the fall of the Roman Empire were illiterate during their first two centuries in Britain and left no written contemporary records. Our understanding of these Angles, Saxons and Jutes comes largely from archaeology and texts such as The Ecclesiastical History of the English People, written in 731 by the Venerable Bede, a monk who lived in the Northumbrian monastery of Jarrow.

Of these three invading tribes, it was the Angles who settled in in the north-east of England. By the middle of the 6th century, the Kingdom of Bernicia, ruled by Ida, chieftan of the Beornish tribe, was established in Northumberland. Bernicia then joined with Deira at the end of the 6th century to form the Kingdom of Northumbria, which extended from the River Humber to the Firth of Forth. The capital of Northumbria was at Durham, which is now just outside present-day Northumberland in neighbouring County Durham.

The story of the next few hundred years is one of conflict between the many emerging Kingdoms, such as Sussex, Wessex, East Anglia, Essex, Mercia and Northumbria. Bede, though, talks of a series of over-kings who wielded some sort of political authority over all of the Anglo-Saxon peoples. Two of these were Northumbrian kings, Edwin (616-32) and Oswald (633-42), from which may be judged the extent of Northumbria's influence.

Perhaps the chief event of the Anglo-Saxon period was the arrival of Christianity in Northumberland and England when St Aidan established a monastery on Lindisfarne (Holy Island) in AD 635. The community begun there by St Aidan and developed by St Cuthbert became one of the great European centres of religious teaching.

Saturday 25 November 2017