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Northumberland - the history, the people and the places
Northumberland is a county in North-East England and is the northernmost county of England, sharing a border with Scotland to the North. It also borders Cumbria to the west; and County Durham, and Tyne and Wear to the south. It is a ceremonial county and the county town is Alnwick; however the County Council is currently based in Morpeth, with a move to nearby Ashington planned to occur by the end of 2018. Northumberland is the most sparsely populated county in England with only 62 people per square kilometre.

Northumberland is often called the "cradle of Christianity" in England, because Christianity flourished on Holy Island, a.k.a. Lindisfarne, an island accessed by a tidal causeway, north of Bamburgh; when King Oswald of Northumbria (reigned 634–642) invited monks from Iona to take residence and convert the English. Lindisfarne is famous for producing the Lindisfarne Gospels in ca. 700 and was the home of St. Cuthbert in circa 634–687 (he was abbot from ca. 665 and died on 20th March, 687AD), who is famously buried in Durham Cathedral, after a revelation to a religious person called Eadmer told monks to take Cuthbert's body to Dunholme (Anglo Saxon for hill-island), thus founding the first settlement on Durham's peninsula

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Titles to Look Out For:
[in alphabetical order, dated to earliest edition. Each listing includes later editions and printings]
1996. Northumbria in the Days of Bede by Peter Hunter Blair

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Blair, Peter Hunter. 'Northumbria in the Days of Bede', published in 1996 by Llanerch publishers as a facsimile reprint, 254pp, ISBN 1861430124. Condition: very good, has some creasing to the front cover near the spine and a slight touch of wear to the cover edges and corners. Price: £14.00, not including post and packing (which is Amazon's standard charge of £2.80 for UK buyers, more for overseas customers)Llanerch Publishers, 1996, pbk
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  • Northumbria in the Days of Bede [top]
    Written by Peter Hunter Blair
    1st published in 1976 in Great Britain in paperback by Peter Hunter Blair
    Reprinted in 1996 in Great Britain by Llanerch Publishers, in paperback, as a facsimile reprint, 254pp, ISBN 1861430124

    Front cover design based on an Eagle of St. John from Corpus Christi College, MS. 197

About this book/synopsis: Northumbria in the days of Bede is that rare phenomenon, a scholar's labour of love designed for the widest possible audience. In this absorbing book, Peter Hunter Blair celebrates the brilliance of seventh and eighth century Northumbria. He defines the geography of this first great Anglo-Saxon kingdom, analyses its place names, details its kings; he recalls the lost Gods the Northumbrians still half-believed in after the momentous advent of Christianity; and he investigates the plethora of Northumbrian hermits, ascetics, virgins, and explains the cult of the saint; he outlines the dispute between the Celtic and Roman churches that culminated in the Synod of Whitby; he describes exactly what went on in the monastery schools and he examines the influence of very great men: Columba who founded the settlement of Iona, and Aidan from Iona who was instrumental in the conversion of Northumbria; Cuthbert for whose uncorrupt body Durham Cathedral was built; Alcuin, teacher of Charlemagne; Caedmon, visionary cowherd-poet; and Bede, greatest of all, first of the modern historians. For more than a century, Northumbria was the centre of European civilisation. Its monasteries were hives, producing brilliant illuminated manuscripts, standing stone crosses, garnet-and-gold metalwork, poems that have weathered the storm of years. In this wide-ranging and penetrating survey, Peter Hunter Blair shows how an entire culture was invigorated by the impact of books, by the desire to learn, by the possibility of enlargement, until the monastery of Lindisfarne was sacked by Vikings in 793 - the beginning of the end


1. To the North of Humber
2. A King must secure his Kingdom
3. The Nature of Things
4. The Wide Expanses of the Sea
5. First Shalt Thou Seek The Kingdom of God
6. Then they washed the Holy Bones
7. A Treasury of Words
8. He could ornament Books with fair Marking
9. The Fortunes of Men
10. A Whirlwind came of the North
--Advice to a Pilgrim
A. Chronology
B. Events
C. Men and Women Prominent in the Church. Index

1. B&W aerial photo. The Road to the North: Dere Street near Piercebridge. Cambridge University Collection
2. B&W photo. Beneath York Minster - a fallen Roman column and a late Saxon tombstone
3. B&W aerial photo. Old Yeavering - in the oat crop can be seen the trace lines of the remains of the Royal township
4. B&W aerial photo. Old Melrose where Cuthbert became a monk and Dryhthelm swam in the ice
5. B&W aerial photo. The Inner Farne where Cuthbert died in his hermitage
6. B&W aerial photo. Holy Island (Lindisfarne) where Cuthbert's monastery may have lain on the Heugh, between the Norman priory and the sea
7. B&W photo of St. Paul's Church, Jarrow: chancel and tower
8. B&W photo showing detail of the South Wall of the Chancel of St. Paul's Church, Jarrow
9. B&W photo of The Bewcastle Cross, showing the South and East faces
10. B&W photo of a stone relief of a group of heads: a fragment from a Northumbrian cross
11. The Stonyhurst Gospel: St. John VII. 24-28
12. Bede's Ecclesiastical History: enlarged detail from the Moore Manuscript
13. Finger Counting: from a manuscript of Bede's De Temporum Ratione
14. B&W image of a detail from the beginning of St. Luke's Gospels from the Lindisfarne Gospels
15. Title page from a Gospel Book (b&w)
16. B&W photo of a carved stone relief from The Franks Casket: Weland in his Smithy; the adoration of the Magi

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