Chapter 19 The Irish and Anglo Saxons Words, Terms and People to Know

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Chapter 19 The Irish and Anglo Saxons Words, Terms and People to Know

  • Shrines
  • Alfred
  • Sheriffs
  • Witenagemot
  • Bede
  • Beowulf
  • Columba
  • Wessex
  • Celts
  • Patrick
  • Iona
  • Gregory
  • Angles, Saxons and Jutes
  • Monasteries
  • Coracles
  • Danelaw
  • And, of course,…the most important thing to remember about all things Irish is …
  • Music D
  • Music B
  • Music C

At one time the Celts lived over a good portion of Northern and Central Europe.

  • Prior to Rome’s domination Europe was a Celtic continent. St. Brenden the Navigator
  • The Romans never invaded Ireland and so the cult of Greek logos (Logos is appeal based on logic or reason. ) which they had spread through much of Western Europe did not take root there.
  • By the time the first Christian missionaries arrived from Britain the Roman Empire had collapsed and the tide of logos had temporarily ebbed. Thus the fledgling Christian Church in Ireland faced a community untouched by logos, united by an enthusiasm for myth and led by a powerful body of literati-poet-priests. For us, written history does not begin in Ireland until the 5th century when Patrick came and introduced literacy.
  • Mythic Ireland p. 13
  • Music D
  • Celtic culture
  • The Hill of Tara, known as Temair in gaeilge, was once the ancient seat of power in Ireland – 142 kings are said to have reigned there in prehistoric and historic times. In ancient Irish religion and mythology Temair was the sacred place of dwelling for the gods, and was the entrance to the otherworld. Saint Patrick is said to have come to Tara to confront the ancient religion of the pagans at its most powerful site.
  • One interpretation of the name Tara says that it means a "place of great prospect" and indeed on a clear day it is claimed that features in half the counties of Ireland can be seen from atop Tara. In the distance to the northwest can be seen the brilliant white quartz front of Newgrange and further north lies the Hill of Slane, where according to legend St. Patrick lit his Pascal fire prior to his visit to Tara in 433 AD.
  • Early in the 20th century a group of Israelites came to Tara with the conviction that the Arc of the Covenant was buried in on the famous hill. They dug the Mound of the Synods in search of the Arc but found only some Roman coins. Official excavation in the 1950s revealed circles of post holes, indicating the construction of substantial buildings here.
  • Sacred Heart of
  • A Sacred Place
  • Music D

The Stone Ruling Deity = Fal Ruling Element = Earth Direction = North Magical City of Origin = Falias Magical Properties and Description = The Stone who knows the heart of man. As we might expect, Fal's stone (aka The Stone of Destiny, or Lia Fail), is the grounding agent in the realm Celtic symbols. It has feminine qualities based on legend stating various goddesses were purported to live in the stone. One such legend tells us the High Kings of Ireland were ritually married to the goddess living in the Stone of Destiny which stood at Tara. But, before the nuptials, the High King was summed up by the goddess. If his measure was lacking, the goddess embodying the stone would scream her displeasure. A contender for the kingship could then present himself for scrutiny.

  • The Stone Ruling Deity = Fal Ruling Element = Earth Direction = North Magical City of Origin = Falias Magical Properties and Description = The Stone who knows the heart of man. As we might expect, Fal's stone (aka The Stone of Destiny, or Lia Fail), is the grounding agent in the realm Celtic symbols. It has feminine qualities based on legend stating various goddesses were purported to live in the stone. One such legend tells us the High Kings of Ireland were ritually married to the goddess living in the Stone of Destiny which stood at Tara. But, before the nuptials, the High King was summed up by the goddess. If his measure was lacking, the goddess embodying the stone would scream her displeasure. A contender for the kingship could then present himself for scrutiny.
  • The Spear Ruling Deity = Lugh Ruling Element = Fire Direction = South Magical City of Origin = Gorias Magical Properties and Description = The Spear that never misses the mark. The spear of Lugh carries far more symbolic weight than just the implications of battle, hunting and the victory to (hopefully) ensue. For example, observing the spear we get the idea of laser-like focus. The spear is a symbol of single-minded aim. Direct action. Channeled attention. Tunneled vision with a goal to hit the target. Further, as Celtic symbols, spears conjure images of beginnings. We can infer the message of "number one" (the spear simulating the downward stroke of the first mark in a precession of other marks, indicating the first in a series of counts).
  • The Sword Ruling Deity = Nuada Ruling Element = Air Direction = East Magical City of Origin = Findias Magical Properties and Description = All are subject to the will of the Sword. Nuada was the king of the Tuatha de Danann, and so, his sword (claideb) among Celtic symbols is big-time powerful. It's not necessarily the sword itself that holds the power. More aptly, it is the element, and concept it represents that sings with power. Battle was a common factor among the Celts. Indeed, the Celt is the poster-child-hero-archetype. Undeniable. Mettle was tested under duress of conflict. Youth became adult on the fields of battle. Stories told, hero's made, ballads sung - all in the name of the warrior. And so, the sword is a symbol of victory, conquer, gain, and effective rulership
  • The Cauldron Ruling Deity = Dagda Ruling Element = Water Direction = West Magical City of Origin = Murias Magical Properties and Description = A Cauldron with endless supply. Cauldrons are typically Celtic symbols representing femininity. Indeed, cauldrons are associated with the moon, water, the womb - all female attributes. However, Dagda is a god. Very male. Yet, Dagda sports the cauldron as his talisman as he stealthily made his way upon the shores of Ireland with intent to reclaim the lands. Nevertheless, Dagda has rightful ownership of the cauldron because he is a Good God, and a god of fertility and abundance to boot.
  • In fact, his cauldron never ran dry. It never ceased its supply of food and sustenance. Here we see qualities of nurturing and nourishment - replenishment too. We don't have to drop the feminine qualities of the Cauldron of Dagda altogether, because we see in this object themes of renewal and rebirth. In fact, legend tells us Dagda would revive wounded (even deceased) warriors slain on the battlefields by dunking them in his magic cauldron - essentially reanimating them completely. Further, the cauldron is naturally associated with the water element, which fits nicely with the concept of cleansing, healing, rebirthing and resurrection. Again, all traditionally feminine qualities (even though the Celts weren't very hung up on gender labels).
  • The Dagda
  • Name:  Eochaid Ollathair /'All Father'  /The Dagda ('Good God') 
  • Properties:  God of Magic, God of Time, Protector of Crops
  • Title:  Ruadh Rofhessa (The Mighty Red One of Great Knowledge)
  • Race:  Tuatha Dé Danann / Fomorian
  • The Dagda was the father God of the Celts they called him the Good God because he protected their crops.  He was king of the Tuatha Dé Danann and ruled over Uisnech in Co. Meath.  He had a cauldron called the Undry which supplied unlimited food and was one of the magical items the Tuatha brought with them when they first landed on Ireland.  He also had a living oak harp called Uaithne which caused the seasons to change in their order and also played three types of music, the music of sorrow, the music of joy and the music of dreaming. 
  •  He was portrayed as wearing a brown low-necked tunic which just reached his hips and a hooded cape that barely covered his shoulders.  On his feet were horse-hide boots.  Behind him he pulled his eight pronged war club on a wheel, one end of the club killed the living and the other end revived the dead, and when it was dragged behind him it left a track as deep as the boundary ditch between two provinces.
  • There are many humorous tales about him, about his appetites both for food and other gratification.  In these stories he never seems to get enough of either!
  • This scheme of things is common. In classical thought, the four elements Earth, Water, Air, and Fire frequently occur; sometimes including a fifth element or quintessence (after "quint" meaning "fifth") called Aether in ancient Greece.
  • The Celtic Sword 3:58 min.

Did the Irish Discover America?

  • The legend of the Voyage of St. Brendan, (b. 489- 577d. ) an Irish voyage story, other culture’s have versions of the same tale. The story describes St. Brendan’s search for the Garden of Eden as he travels across the Atlantic Ocean to the The Isle of the Blessed. From this story, St. Brendan as “the Navigator” or “the Voyager” emerged and has led some to speculate that The Isle of the Blessed was in fact America.
  • Tim Severin was a devotee of Kon Tiki–esque adventures. In the mid-1970s he fashioned a curragh that was probably like Saint Brendan’s. on June 26, 1977, on the shore of Peckford Island in the Outer Wadham Group some 150 miles northwest of St. John’s, Newfoundland. She had been at sea for fifty days. The exact spot of her landfall has no particular significance to the story of the early Irish voyages into the Atlantic. It was merely the place where the wind and current had brought a twentieth-century replica of the original Irish skin vessel
  • Others point to the success of Tim Severin’s voyage,:
  • 1. His boat, constructed on the same lines, successfully crossed the Atlantic.
  • 2. He witnessed similar sights:
  • whales swam around and even under their boat – they could have been even friendlier in Brendan’s time, before motorized
  • ships would make them wary of man, so friendly that they may well have lifted the monks’ boat in a playful gesture;
  • island of Mykines, one of the Danish Faroe islands, with its thousands of seabirds – Brendan’s ‘The Paradise of Birds’;
  • ‘Island of Sheep’, the larger of the Danish Faroe islands - the word Faroe itself means Island of Sheep;
  • Labrador-Greenland iceberg belt (‘The Crystal Pillar’) - the monks had never seen icebergs before, so their description
  • of them as ‘towering crystals’ would make sense;
  • Iceland, with Icelandic volcanoes - the ‘Island of Smiths’ and the ‘Fiery Mountain’ - the volcanoes, active for many
  • centuries, might well have been erupting when the monks stayed there, pelting the monks 'with flaming, foul
  • smelling rocks’; and
  • landed on the island of Newfoundland - might well have been Brendan’s ‘Land promised to the Saints’.
  • Severin’s journey did not prove that Brendan and his monks landed on North America. However it did prove that a leather currach could have made a voyage such as that mapped out in medieval accounts.
  • Other Possible “first” discovers of America
  • The First Native Americans
  • The Egyptian Pyramid Builders
  • The Lost Tribe of Israel
  • The Carthaginians
  • St Brendan the Navigator
  • Eirík the Red
  • Leif Eiríksson
  • Junk Theory - The Chinese
  • Amerigo Vespucci
  • Christopher Columbus
  • Giovanni Caboto / John Cabot
  • Music B
  • Music C
  • Music D

By the start of the Middle Ages Celts had been struck by two very powerful cultures, Rome in the south and the Germans, who were possibly derived from Celtic culture, from the north.

  • Most of what we know about Celtic life comes from Ireland. Other Celtic cultures we know about only through Greek and Roman sources—sources decidedly unfriendly to the Celts (Gauls).
  • Early Celtic societies were organized around warfare. Classical Greek and Roman writers considered the Celts to be violently insane, as their warfare was not an organized process, but more along the lines of raids and hunting.
  • Music D

Celtic society was hierarchical and class-based

  • According to both Roman and Irish sources Celtic society was divided into three groups
    • Warrior aristocracy Ard Ri— high king
    • Intellectual class that included druids, poets, and jurists Flaith
    • Everyone else Ceile—free clansman
  • Society was tribal and one’s ethnic identity was largely derived from the larger tribal group called the tuath (“people”) but ultimately based on the smallest kinship unit called the cenedl (ke-na-dl) or “kindred”.
  • Music D
  • Early Ireland was not urban and whatever trade took place was largely in the form of barter. Ireland’s basic economic principle was reciprocity (as was the case with most tribal economies).
  • Reciprocity as the Basis of Early Economic Systems
  • Reciprocity
  • 2. A mutual or cooperative interchange of favors or privileges, especially the exchange of rights or privileges of trade between nations.
  • Gift giving creates an obligation to return similar gifts
  • Feasting improves relations, prevents hostility, is an excellent way to “store” food
  • Reciprocity leads to intermarriage
  • Villages are connected by multiple ties of kinship
  • Reciprocity results in food security, balances inequities
  • Political leadership is bestowed on those that give the most

Chapter 19 The Irish and the Anglo-Saxons

  • By the 2nd century B.C. Celts had established themselves in Ireland assimilating an earlier Bronze Age population.
  • By the 5th century the heroic age of Irish culture was over—but it left a wonderful legacy of myth and legend
  • The Dying Gaul exemplifies the traditional image of the courageous but doomed Celtic warrior.
    • "The Insubres and the Boii wore trousers and light cloaks, but the Gaesatae, in their love of glory and defiant spirit, had thrown off their garments and taken up their position in front of the whole army naked and wearing nothing but their arms... The appearance of these naked warriors was a terrifying spectacle, for they were all men of splendid physique and in the prime of life."
    • Polybius: Greek historian wrote account of Gaulish tactics against a Roman army at the Battle of Telamon of 225 BC: Continental Celts 8:31 Min.

Section One: describes the development of an independent Celtic culture in Ireland

  • I Celtic Ireland
    • A. After 410 Great Britain was overrun by Germanic tribes from Germany and Denmark after Germanic tribes capture Rome
      • Around 410 A.D. the British Isles were overrun by Anglos, Saxons and Jutes. (Group of Germanic people who migrated to Britain) Celts fled to Ireland where they resisted Roman rule
    • B. Ireland, becomes the center of Celtic culture interactive map
    • C. People divided into clans, lived in small villages thatched roofs and were farmers
    • D. Wealth determined by number of cattle owned and Celtic society was almost entirely based on pastoralism. Stealing another groups cattle was a proving point. One of the greatest surviving Irish myths is the Tain Bo Cualingne, “The Cattle Raid of Cooley.”
    • E. Seafaring people who made boats of stretched cow hides called coracles
  • Ancient Celtic fields can be seen in the bottom left corner of this photograph. They appear to be quite small compared with the modern fields which surround them.
  • Reconstruction of ancient Irish round house
  • Coracles on the River Teifi, Wales 1972
  • Music D
  • pas·tor·al·ism  (pstr--lzm, pästr-)
  • n.
  • 1. The quality or state of being pastoral. Used especially of a literary work.
  • 2. A social and economic system based on the raising and herding of livestock.
  • 1. Here Beginneth The Cualnge Cattle-raid
  • ONCE of a time, that Ailill and Medb had spread their royal bed in Cruachan, the stronghold of Connacht, such was the pillow-talk that befell betwixt them:…

Ancient Gods of Ireland Celtic religion was polytheistic and probably derived from Indo-European sources. Romans trying to understand this Romanized their gods so we really have no idea as to the Celtic character of these gods and their functions other than that Celtic gods tended to come in threes.

  • Celtic Ireland - Gods and Goddesses Aine | goddess of love Banbha | one of the trio of goddesses who lent their name to Ireland Boann | goddess of water and fertility; bore Oenghus to the Daghda Brigit (Brighid) | goddess of fertility, healing, and poetry Cian | the father of Lugh Cliodna | goddess of beauty and the Otherworld Creidhne | god of metalworking; one of the trio of craft-gods of the Tuatha De Danaan Daghda | god of the earth; leader of the Tuatha De Danaan Danu | goddess who is a version of the Great Mother; mother of the Tuatha De Danaan Dian Cecht | god of crafts and healing Donn | god of the dead; the "dark one" Eriu | another of the three goddesses after which Ireland was named Fodla | third of the trinity of goddesses of Ireland
  • Boann created the River Boyne. Though forbidden to by her husband, Nechtan, Boann approached the magical well of Segais (also known as the Well of Wisdom) and challenged the power of the well by walking around it counter-clockwise; this caused the waters to surge up violently and rush down to the sea, creating the River Boyne. In this catastrophe, she was swept along in the rushing waters, and lost an arm, leg and eye, and ultimately her life, in the flood.
  • Celtic logic of divinity almost always centered on triads. This triadic logic no doubt had tremendous significance in the translation of Christianity.
  • Music D

More gods: Certain areas were considered more charged with divinity than others, especially pools, lakes and small groves which were sites of ritual activities of Celtic life. gods

  • Goibhniu | god of the smith; one of three craft-gods of the Tuatha De Danaan Luchta | god of wrights; one of the triad of craft-gods of the Tuatha De Danaan Lugh | god whose name means "shining one“ god of harvest, arts and crafts.
  • Morrigan | goddess of war and death; had a triple aspect; wife of the Daghda Nechtan | water-god whose sacred well was a source of knowledge Néit | god of war; husband of Nemhain Nemhain | goddess of war and battle Nuada | one of the kings of the Tuatha De Danaan Oenghus | god of youth and love Ogma | god of eloquence and language Tuatha De Danaan | the Irish race of gods who descended from the goddess Danu; patrons of magic and arts
  • Lugh's spear Millar


  • The bean-sidhe (woman of the fairy) may be an ancestral spirit appointed to forewarn members of certain ancient Irish families of their time of death. According to tradition, the banshee can only cry for five major Irish families: the O'Neills, the O'Briens, the O'Connors, the O'Gradys and the Kavanaghs. Intermarriage has since extended this select list. Whatever her origins, the banshee chiefly appears in one of three guises: a young woman, a stately matron or a raddled old hag. These represent the triple aspects of the Celtic goddess of war and death, namely Badhbh, Macha and Mor-Rioghain. She usually wears either a grey, hooded cloak or the winding sheet or grave robe of the unshriven dead. She may also appear as a washer-woman, and is seen apparently washing the blood stained clothes of those who are about to die. In this guise she is known as the bean-nighe (washing woman). Although not always seen, her mourning call is heard, usually at night when someone is about to die.
  • Music D
  • Contrary to the movie Harvey and the portral of Elwood P. Dowd’s friendly, likeable six foot three and a half inch invisible white rabbit who was a pooka- they are often malevolent. Dowd’s friend Harvey is a pooka, which is described in the movie as, "From old Celtic mythology, a fairy spirit in animal form, always very large. The pooka appears here and there, now and then, to this one and that one. A benign but mischievous creature very fond of rumpots, crackpots, and...."
  • Pookas were not normally viewed as benign and mischieveous but creatures to be feared!
  • Music D
  • No fairy is more feared in Ireland than the pooka. This may be because it is always out and about after nightfall, creating harm and mischief, and because it can assume a variety of terrifying forms. The guise in which it most often appears, however, is that of a sleek, dark horse with sulphurous yellow eyes and a long wild mane. In this form, it roams large areas of countryside at night, tearing down fences and gates, scattering livestock in terror, trampling crops and generally doing damage around remote farms.
  • In remote areas of County Down, the pooka becomes a small, deformed goblin who demands a share of the crop at the end of the harvest: for this reason several strands, known as the 'pooka's share', are left behind by the reapers. In parts of County Laois, the pooka becomes a huge, hairy bogeyman who terrifies those abroad at night; in Waterford and Wexford, it appears as an eagle with a massive wingspan; and in Roscommon, as a black goat with curling horns. The mere sight of it may prevent hens laying their eggs or cows giving milk, and it is the curse of all late night travellers as it is known to swoop them up on to its back and then throw them into muddy ditches or bogholes.
  • There is a waterfall formed by the river Liffey in the Wicklow mountains known as the Poula Phouk (the pooka's hole), and Binlaughlin Mountain in County Fermanagh is also known as the 'peak of the speaking horse'. In some areas of the country, the pooka is rather more mysterious than dangerous, provided it is treated with proper respect. The pooka may even be helpful on occasion, issuing prophecies and warnings where appropriate. For example, the folklorist Douglas Hyde referred to a 'plump, sleek, terrible steed' which emerged from a hill in Leinster and which spoke in a human voice to the people there on the first day of November. It was accustomed to give "intelligent and proper answers to those who consulted it concerning all that would befall them until November the next year. And the people used to leave gifts and presents at the hill..."
  • Only one man has ever managed to ride the pooka and that was Brian Boru, the High King of Ireland. Using a special bridle containing three hairs from the pooka's tail, Brian managed to control the magic horse and stay on its back until, exhausted, it surrendered to his will. The king extracted two promises from it; firstly, that it would no longer torment Christian people and ruin their property and secondly, that it would never again attack an Irishman (all other nationalities are exempt) except those who are drunk or abroad with an evil intent. The latter it could attack with greater ferocity than before. The pooka agreed to these conditions. However, over the intervening years, it seems to have forgotten its bargain and attacks on property and sober travellers on their way home continue to this day.
  • The name leprechaun may have derived from the Irish leath bhrogan (shoemaker), although its origins may lie in luacharma'n (Irish for pygmy). These apparently aged, diminutive men are frequently to be found in an intoxicated state, caused by home-brew poteen. However they never become so drunk that the hand which holds the hammer becomes unsteady and their shoemaker's work affected.
  • Music D
  • Leprechauns have also become self-appointed guardians of ancient treasure (left by the Danes when they marauded through Ireland), burying it in crocks or pots. This may be one reason why leprechauns tend to avoid contact with humans whom they regard as foolish, flighty (and greedy?) creatures. If caught by a mortal, he will promise great wealth if allowed to go free. He carries two leather pouches. In one there is a silver shilling, a magical coin that returns to the purse each time it is paid out. In the other he carries a gold coin which he uses to try and bribe his way out of difficult situations. This coin usually turns to leaves or ashes once the leprechaun has parted with it.
  • However, you must never take your eye off him, for he can vanish in an instant. The leprechaun 'family' appears split into two distinct groups - leprechaun and cluricaun. Cluricauns may steal or borrow almost anything, creating mayhem in houses during the hours of darkness, raiding wine cellars and larders. They will also harness sheep, goats, dogs and even domestic fowl and ride them throughout the country at night. Although the leprechaun has been described as Ireland's national fairy, this name was originally only used in the north Leinster area.
  • Darby O'Gill and the Little People is a 1959 Walt Disney Pictures



Druids and DRUIDISM

  • Religious faith of ancient Celtic inhabitants of Gaul and the British Isles from the 2d century bc until the 2d century ad. In parts of Britain that the Romans did not invade, Druidism survived until it was supplanted by Christianity two or three centuries later. This religion included belief in the immortality of the soul, which at death was believed to pass into the body of a newborn child.
  • According to Julius Caesar, drawing on a biased account of the cult written by Posidonius (c. 135-51 bc), a Stoic philosopher and historian, the Druids performed “barbaric” or “horrid” rituals at lakes and groves and the Romans believed these rituals involved human sacrifice. Druids believed that they were descended from a supreme being. The ancient accounts assert that the functions of priests, religious teachers, judges, and civil administrators were performed by Druids, with supreme power being vested in an arch druid. Three classes of Druids existed: prophets, bards, and priests. They were assisted by female prophets or sorcerers, who did not enjoy the powers and privileges of the Druids.
  • Two druids, from an 1845 publication, based on a bas-relief found at Autun, France.
  • Only Caesar mentions the wicker man as one of many ways the Druids of Gaul performed sacrifices. Not having witnessed the ritual himself, Caesar reports that some of the Gauls built the effigies out of sticks and placed living men inside, then set them on fire to pay tribute to the gods.


  • The Druids were well versed in astrology, magic, and the mysterious powers of plants and animals; they held the oak tree and the mistletoe, especially when the latter grew on oak trees, in great reverence, and they customarily conducted their rituals in oak forests. Archaeologists believe that the Druids probably used as altars and temples the stone monuments known as dolmens (see DOLMEN,) that are found throughout the areas where Druidism flourished. STONEHENGE, in England antedates (came before) Druidism by many centuries.
  • The Druids led their people in resisting the Roman invasions, but their power was weakened by the rebelliousness of the Gallic warriors, who were envious of their political authority. The superior military strength of the Romans and the subsequent conversion of many followers of Druidism to Christianity led to the disappearance of the religion.
  • (see Mythology of the Forest United Streaming)
  • A dolmen (also known as cromlech (Welsh), anta, Hünengrab, Hunebed, Goindol, quoit, and portal dolmen) is a type of single-chamber megalithic tomb, usually consisting of three or more upright stones supporting a large flat horizontal capstone (table).
  • prehistoric ritual monument, situated on Salisbury Plain, north of Salisbury, England, and dating from the late Stone and early Bronze ages (c. 3000-1000 bc).
  • HILL OF TARA One of the most famous sites in the
  • Celtic world an important centre of religious ceremony where the
  • Irish ard rí [high king] is said to have had his seat
  • Irish Menhirs
  • Music D

Run Time: [47:35] history of Celtic Ireland and explains the origin and importance of the three pillars of Western society.

  • The Celts
  • 44 minutes

The Megalith Map

  • Music D
  • Run Time: [46:12]
  • For centuries, humans have been fascinated by the
  • Neolithic structures built by the Pagans. This program
  • sheds light on the construction and possible purpose of
  • Silbury Hill, the Ring of Brodgar, and the most famous s
  • uch structure, Stonehenge. Archeological research and
  • computer-generated images offer a glimpse at these
  • structures as they may have looked in the distant past.

I. Cont.

  • F. Isolated on their island the Irish were able to remain free of Germanic influences.
    • 1. scholars, artist, merchants and monks went to Ireland because of its relative peace
  • G. Christian Irish Church was founded by Saint Patrick in 432 Legends of St. Patrick 2:23 min.
  • H. Ireland lost contact with Rome during the Germanic invasions
  • I. Church turns to its abbots to lead
  • People to Know: Saint Patrick
  • Patrick recounts that he had a vision a few years after returning home:
  • I saw a man coming, as it were from Ireland. His name was Victoricus, and he carried many letters, and he gave me one of them. I read the heading: "The Voice of the Irish". As I began the letter, I imagined in that moment that I heard the voice of those very people who were near the wood of Foclut, which is beside the western sea—and they cried out, as with one voice: "We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us.
  • ”. Legend credits Patrick with teaching the Irish about the concept of the Trinity by showing people the shamrock, a 3-leaved clover, using it to highlight the Christian belief of 'three divine persons in the one God' (as opposed to the Arian belief that was popular in Patrick's time). Whether or not these legends are true, the very fact that there are so many legends about Patrick shows how important his ministry was to Ireland.
  • Small monastic buildings erected from rough stones, built to a round floorplan and with a cupola-like roof ... making them look like gigantic beehives. They are typical of Celtic monasteries and may have been used by monks or as visitor's quarters.
  • Whatever the historical background of its origin - the historical development of the unusual cross is even less clear. Unless you subscribe to the outlandish idea that some Irish clerics deliberately chose a "trademark" and consciously designed the Celtic cross. How the ring became part of the cross is totally unclear. And open to interpretation - some scholars went as far as to suggest that the ring represents a halo and thus Christ himself, circumventing any scruples about picturing God's son. These theories are close cousins to those that suggest that the circle should really be a disk, representing sol invictus, the sun-god.

Run Time: [08:56] Examines the introduction of Christianity to Ireland and examines how this influenced the entire British region.

I. cont.

      • (a.) each clan supported its own monastery
      • (b.) monasteries become centers of Irish life
      • (c.) because of their isolation Irish monks began to follow practices different from those of Rome
        • (1.) celebrated Easter on a different day
        • (2.) different rituals (Irish Tonsure)
        • (3.) many monks chose to be hermits
        • (4.) set up schools
        • (5.) become missionaries
  • The "Roman" tonsure, in the shape of a crown, differing from the Irish tradition, where the hair above the forehead was shaved.
  • Music D
  • Christianity in Britain during the seventh century existed in two forms distinguished by differing liturgic traditions, labeled the “Ionan” and “Roman” traditions. The “Ionan” practice was that of the Irish monks who resided in a monastery on the isle of Iona (a tradition within "Celtic Christianity"), whereas the “Roman” tradition kept observances according to the customs of Rome. In the kingdom of Northumbria, these two traditions coexisted, and each had been encouraged by different royal houses. Edwin of Northumbria had converted to Christianity under the influence of missionaries sent from Rome by Pope Gregory the Great and thus had established Roman practice in his realm. However, following his death and a year of political instability, Oswald of Northumbria gained the throne. He had learned Christian practice from the monks of Iona during his stay there (while a political exile in his youth), and had encouraged Ionan missionaries to further the Christianization of Northumbria, especially the famous Bishop Aidan.
  • One of the main differences between the two traditions, and hence a source of controversy, was the proper calculation of Easter.

The Irish Tonsure

  • 1. Clergy hairstyles may seem like a minor point of contention to us looking back from a contemporary perspective, but in fact it had tremendous spiritual significance. Then, as now, hair was a major signifier of social status. The tonsure issue was not a matter of fashion, but theology.
  • 2. The origin of the tonsure comes from the ancient Roman custom of shaving the head of a male slave as a way of indicating the master’s power—the slave’s forced submission to the master’s will is so complete that he even loses the ability to control the appearance of his own hair. (Forced haircuts are still used today as a visual symbol of an authority figure’s total control over a man’s life, and as a way to denote low hierarchical status, such as when soldiers enter boot camp.)
  • 3. Greeks and Romans alike considered the shaved head to be the badge of the slave. Romans punished Christians by shaving their heads as a sign of contempt and mockery—making them wear their hair like slaves was meant to humiliate them. This eventually backfired, as some monks began to voluntarily shave their heads in the same manner and, when questioned, identified themselves as "slaves of Christ."
  • 4. Various religious orders practiced tonsure among themselves for hundreds of years, and toward the beginning of the sixth century many clerics in the North had revived the custom in a modified form: not shaving the whole head. Some orders left a narrow crown of hair, meant to signify Christ’s crown of thorns; some orders shaved off only a small circular patch on the crown of the head; some kept the entire head shaved above the ears, and some retained a wide band of hair around the head. The Roman Catholic Church abolished the practice of tonsure in 1972, but some orthodox religious orders practice voluntary tonsure even today.
  • 5. The tonsure controversy, therefore, was directly related to the larger issue of whether to follow ancient ways that had been preserved from the earliest Christians or to conform to modern practices being imposed at a distance from Rome. Clergy enjoyed a privileged status in seventh century Rome that was never dreamed of by early followers of Christ. As a result, many clergy there had abandoned the tonsure and began to wear their hair in the same way as the members of the ruling class.
  • 6. Thus they were not visually identified as servants, but masters. Roman clergy felt this was appropriate, as they were educated and well-respected members of society, but the Celts placed a higher value on the virtue of humility and felt the traditional visual image of clergy as servants of Christ should be preserved with the symbolic haircut.
  • 7. So although the Synod of Whitby in 664 is most often remembered for its celebrated argument over whether churches should use the Celtic method or the Roman method of computing the date of Easter, the tonsure issue was also an intensely debated matter on which many Celtic monks and clergy stood in irreconcilable disagreement with Rome.
  • 8. Traditional Celtic tonsure was usually made by shaving only the front part of the head. We can presume that tonsure, rather than age or incipient baldness, is the reason for Colman’s prominent forehead and hairline.

I. cont.

      • (d.) Saint Columba set up monastery on Iona off west coast of Scotland Vita Columbae
      • The main source of information about Columba's life is the Vita Columbae by Adomnán The vita of Columba is also the source of the first known reference to a Loch Ness Monster. 2:10 monster
        • (1.) monks from Iona preach to Anglo-Saxons, go to northern Europe and help spread Christianity throughout Charlemagne’s empire
  • The vita of Columba is also the source of the first known reference to a Loch Ness Monster. According to Adomnan, Columba came across a group of Picts who were burying a "poor little man“ who had been killed by the monster, and saved a swimmer with the sign of the Cross and the imprecation "You will go no further", at which the beast fled terrified, to the amazement of the assembled Picts who glorified Columba's God. Whether or not this incident is true, Adomnan's text specifically states that the monster was swimming in the River Ness -- the river flowing from the loch -- rather than in Loch Ness itself.
  • The Iona monastery (the larger building) seen from the sea. St. Columba (ca. 521-597) established a monastery on the Isle of Iona in 563 which became one of the few havens for Western Christendom in an era of savage invasions. Missionaries from the monastery converted the Picts to Christianity, and established an organization of churches in Ireland, Scotland, and Northern England which was independent of the Roman pope's authority.

Section Two: explains the development of English government and society under the Anglo-Saxon kings

  • II. Christianity
    • A. Pope Gregory I decides to convert Anglo-Saxons to Christianity, (see story on pg. 292) 597 missionaries sent to England under leadership of Augustine. Landed in Kent.
    • B. Kent’s queen Bertha was Christian, her husband Ethelbert was not.
      • 1. allows Augustine to build church at Canterbury
  • Music D


  • (d. 604?) First archbishop of Canterbury, born in Rome. Pope Gregory I, known as The Great, sent him to England from the monastery of Saint Andrew in Rome to convert the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity. When Augustine and his company of monks reached Aix-en-Provence, France, they were so terrified by reports of the savage islanders that Augustine returned to Rome for permission to give up the attempt, but Gregory refused.
  • A favorable circumstance, of which they were ignorant, was that Bertha, the wife of Ethelbert, the Saxon king of Kent, was a Christian. Augustine landed at Thanet in Kent, England, in 597. There Ethelbert received the embassy, listened patiently to Augustine's sermon, and promised the monks shelter and protection at Canterbury, where a residence was assigned to them. On June 2, 597, Ethelbert was baptized, and thereafter the new faith spread rapidly among the Anglo-Saxons. Augustine was made a bishop and given authority over all future English bishops. About 603 he tried, unsuccessfully, to achieve uniformity in liturgy and practices between the Celtic and Roman churches.

II. Cont.

    • 2. by 700 A.D. all England was Christian
    • 3. the monk, Bede, wrote the first history of the English People and brought the Christian way of dating events to England--"I have devoted my energies to a study of the Scriptures, observing monastic discipline, and singing the daily services in church; study, teaching, and writing have always been my delight."
  • 4. Anglo-Saxons keep much of their old culture
        • (a.) legend of Beowulf
          • (1.)first recited around 700
          • (2.) written down in 900s
          • (3.) defeats the monster Grindel
          • (4.) dies fighting a dragon
        • (b.) stories told orally, sung or recited
      • 5. literature reflected the life of the people and their culture The Mead Hall 4:09 min
  • Detail of a manuscript by the 8th
  • century English
  • Benedictine monk and
  • scholar, the Venerable Bede.
  • Tomb of the Venerable Bede © Durham Cathedral
  • Tolkien in 1972
  • Death of Bede
  • Cuthbert, a disciple of Bede's, wrote a letter to a Cuthwin (of whom nothing else is known), describing Bede's last days and his death. According to Cuthbert, Bede fell ill "with frequent attacks of breathlessness but almost without pain", before Easter. On the Tuesday before Acension Day (26 May) his breathing became worse, and his feet swelled. He continued to dictate to a scribe, however, and despite spending the night awake in prayer he dictated again the following day. At three o'clock, according to Cuthbert, he asked for a box of his to be brought, and distributed among the priests of the monastery "a few treasures" of his: "some pepper, and napkins, and some incense". Later that day he dictated a final sentence to the scribe, a boy named Wilberht, and died soon afterwards.
  • Brian Boru successfully drives the Vikings from Ireland in 1014
  • Music D

II. Cont.

  • C. Alfred The Great
    • "Desire for and possession of earthly power never pleased me overmuch, and I did not unduly desire this earthly rule, but that nevertheless I wished for tools and resources for the task that I was commanded to accomplish, which was that I should virtuously and worthily guide and direct the authority which was entrusted to me…”
    • 1. 835 Alfred, king of Wessex leads the kingdoms against the invading Danes 10:05 (Alfred the Great was able to fend off the barbarians from his kingdom by building fortresses that the Vikings were unable to penetrate.)
    • 2. pays the Danes money to leave England alone
    • 3. Unites England against the Danes and defeats them at Battle of Ethandun, May 6, 878
  • (a.) treaty recognized Danes rule of northeast part of England which becomes known as Danelaw
      • (a.) Alfred rebuilds London destroyed by Danes
      • (b,) Alfred set forth new laws based on Old Anglo-Saxon customs
      • (c.) Starts school to educate noble’s sons for government posts.
      • (d.) Alfred has monks begin a record of English history starting in Roman times.
  • Ethandun, Memorial

II. Cont.

  • D. The Government
    • 1. The King was the center of government. The council of lords elects kings from royal family
    • 2. after 700 A.D. Church crowned new rulers
    • 3. Kings sets up local governments divided into districts called Shires 9:48 min.
      • author J.R.R. Tolkien and his works-- makes connections between the Hobbits and their Shire and the English people and their country.
      • (a.) Sheriff local noble chosen by king to run Shire
      • (b.) King and household moved around. Wherever the King was in was under the King’s peace or royal protection
        • (1.) eventually the King’s peace as law spreads to all the kingdom
        • (2.) Witenagemot—nobles and church leaders who gave advice to king—member—witan
  • Anglo-Saxon king with his witan (11th century)

II. Cont.

  • E. The People
    • 1. Two Classes—nobles & peasants
    • 2. nobles received special rewards for service to king
    • 3. gifts of gold, silver, horses and weapons & estates
    • 4. Peasants lived in small villages or on a noble’s estate
      • (a.) worked the fields belonging to the noble
      • (b.) peasants shared tools, oxen and responsibilities
      • (c.) lived in one-room wood and plaster huts.
  • "Cleric, Knight, and Workman“
  • : the three estates in medieval period

Pick one of the essay questions below to prepare for the chapter test.

  • What was the major problem faced by the Irish Church during the Germanic invasions of the Roman Empire? How did the Church address the problem?
  • How did Ireland’s location affect the development of Celtic culture? Explain your answer.
  • What did Alfred, king of England from 871 to 899, do to deserve to be the only king in English history known by the appellation the Great?

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