This dissertation examines the persistent cult of Anglo-Saxon saints after the Norman Conquest of 1066 in the medieval region of Northumbria; it investigates why the saints from the distant past and from a conquered people were so compelling in this contested border region. Using a thorough examination of a wide variety of sources, it argues that local concerns drove veneration. The saints who were most explicitly linked with specific places in the region, who were connected with other saints, and who had a local tradition for holiness were most likely to be venerated.
Chapter One sets out the parameters of the discussion and evaluates the wealth of surviving source material for the study of saints’ cults in the region. Chapter Two considers the region of Northumbria, setting out the particular geographical, political, and religious realities that defined the area. Political upheaval and dramatic religious change formed the context for the veneration of the saints. Three case studies of cults follow: the cult of Æbbe at Coldingham in Chapter Three, the cult of a group of bishops at Hexham in Chapter Four, and the cult of Oswald at Durham in Chapter Five. The cult of Æbbe reveals how an ancient figure with no particular reputation for holiness was celebrated as a saint long after her death. The cult of the Hexham bishops gives us a glimpse of the way local laity, Augustinian canons, and Cistercian monks all celebrated the local past. The cult of Oswald at Durham demonstrates how a widespread cult could be adapted for a particular local context. There is a wide variety of evidence that reveals diversity of belief and practice in the veneration of saints. Chapter Six returns to the relationship between place and cult and suggests that the concern with place, the connections among saints, and an on-going local tradition of sanctity are the reasons why the cults of these Anglo-Saxon saints were celebrated in the long twelfth century.