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Saint Eanswythe bones found(?) and Kentish history

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  • Saint Eanswythe bones found(?) and Kentish history

    On holiday at present - if two small people can be called that (work is easier) - so noticed this.

    In the 're-christianisation' of England following the 'English invasion' St Augustine of Canterbury (not to be confused with St Augustine of Hippo) is renowned (and Sainted) as it's head sent by the then Pope Gregory in 596AD. They got to what was then the Kingdom of Kent, said to have been the first of 'English' Kingdoms though most say the migrants were Jutes, in 596. There St Augustine met King Æthelberht (or Ethelbert in modern speech) who's wife, Bertha, was the daughter of the King of Frankish King Charibert I (in so far as we can speak of modern nations relative to their origins) and so already Christian. St Augustine (of Canterbury) landed in Thanet it is said which was then an island in itself but the rivers were slow running through a largely flat ground. St Augustine managed to persuade the Kentish King to convert to Christianity and was given permission to stay and spread the word.

    Well now they have found perhaps the bones of Æthelberht/Ethelbert's grand daughter St Eanswith (or Eanswythe in the older form) in Folkestone, Kent where she is said in history to have founded a Monastery. See; Why is it important? Well no bones of old Kentish royal family - who by myth are descended from an archetypal 'divine twins' of Indo European myth - all of whom have names related to horses so in this case 'Hengist' meaning 'stallion' and 'Horsa' which actually means 'little horse' as in 'konik' (foal) as opposed to 'konya' (horse) in Polish: to this day the Kentish flag carries a white horse on a red backgroung. Whether these legendary 'horse Lords' ever existed nobody can say but the bones of St Eanswythe, who is supposedly a descendant of the original may perhaps yield some evidence of their origin.

    On a different track but related is the 'legend of Minster Abbey' which is in Thanet, where St Augustine is said to landed. In those days the river Stour that flows through Eastern Kent was wider and perhaps deeper or the ships had less draught (below the water line). The Romans had built a fort, the walls of which remain and St Augustine is said to sailed up this river to a place which to this day is called Minster on the northern side of the river and in the south west of then island of Thanet. There is a memorial to place where he and his deputation is said to have landed.

    The legend (and truth) of Minster Abbey, near where St Augustine landed, concerns early Kentish politics (so far as the histories tell us). So Eormenred was a Kentish King and he had a couple of sons and at least one daughter - known in history as 'Domne Eafe'' (probably real name was Eormenburg) where 'Domne' is title of respect such as one address a female today as "Lady Helena". The children's father died while they were young and they brothers ended up in the custody of their nephew after their Uncle died. The nephew of course had them 'dispatched' to the afterlife so that he inherited the throne and the bodies hidden. Some accounts say a 'heavenly light' shone of the burial places of the sons but however it happened the murder got revealed. The murders revealed the new King, the murderer, offered to pay 'weregild' or financial compensation to the families relatives for killing their kin - in this case that being the remaining sister.

    According to the tradition of the Abbey Eormenburg/'Domne Eafe' had a pet stag and as weregild she required that this stag be allowed to roam over the isle of Thanet until it reached the sea and all land south be given to her. This then being the law the cousin King agreed and the stag having roamed the aggrieved sister was given the land on which she founded the Abbey.

    What is known is that the third Abbess, Edburga was in contact with St Boniface who at that time was trying to bring Christianity to the German peoples. Some Nuns from the Abbey went to what is now Germany it said. After Henry Vlll and his 'nationalisation' of Church property (and history) in the 16th century it ended up in private hands - a property just like all others. In 1937 however a Bavarian who had a very long name but begins with Benedicta von Spiegel of St Walburga's in Bavaria got an edict requisitioning her Sisters Monastery. On some accounts the St Walburga in Bavaria is sister or daughter (presumably before she took the vows) of Eormenburg/'Domne Eafe'. However these Bavarian Nuns, who were shortly to be dis-homed anyway, decided to purchase the old premises in Kent from which their origins are said to have derived. In my life but still young (about 9) I recall meeting the last of these German Nuns at the Abbey and she told me her story - she was ancient. When I was older I donated to them after their wooden chapel burnt down. It's a peaceful place and they are good people - or were last time I was in the UK.

    So Kentish myth starts with the divine horse twins (Romulus and Remus of Rome) and due to their relatively early adoption of Christianity the myths - or supposed myths - continued into Christian cannon. An example of Christianity not 'killing' (though admittedly it did in places) earlier traditions but absorbing them.

  • #2
    Originally posted by snapper View Post
    Saint Eanswythe bones found
    You didn't mention much about her bones. Can the genetics be extracted or has the genetic connections already been confirmed and decided in the genetic tree?
    Hit the grape lethally.


    • #3
      The bones, as far as I know (which is not much as I no longer live in England), are being sent for further analysis but they date from the Saint's time and of a well nourished female of aprox 21. It is hoped that DNA may be extracted which might gives clues as to the origins of the ancient Kentish royal family's origins, they are said to have 'migrated' from lower Jutland originally as mercenaries to help a 'King Vortigern' of Britainno Roman heritage but who subsequently fell out with their employer and grabbed Kent, the first 'English' Kingdom.

      Later the Oiscingas (where 'ingas' means 'family of' or 'ancestors of' Oisc who was in such records that remain supposedly the Grandson of Hengist) married into the royal families of Mercia and Wessex (the 'Cerdicingas') and became entwined with the greater fate of England.


      • #4
        That is great. With a well preserved sample they can precisely place lineage and trace her path to the present, effectively finding closest relations.
        Hit the grape lethally.


        • #5
          More general genealogical surveys of modern English origins actually suggest that there was probably no massacre of the Romano British population by the migrating Angles, Jutes and Saxon that came to comprise the 'English Kingdoms'. That the closest relatives on the continent (which is true linguistically also) are in Frisia, in what is now Northern Holland. Indeed the Frisians speak their own language (a dialect of the Dutch Germanic language spoken in Amsterdam etc) which is considered to be a part of an 'Anglo-Frisian language group' of languages. The only other place where this 'group' is identified is on the southwestern coast of the Jutland peninsula just south of the Danish border today in an area known as Nordfriesland or Heligoland which is where the Jutish Kings of Kent are said to have derived.

          Presumably the Western Frisian speakers in what is now Northern Holland and the Northern Frisian speakers who now live just south west of Denmark were once connected, but whether they originally lived on some area of the coast in between are were driven apart to seek refuge where they now reside or whether they were at one connected and the whole coast of what is today northern Germany from Northern Holland and into what was then Denmark spoke a form of Frisian we cannot say.

          There is actually one other area in Germany that speaks a form of this language in Saterland, which is what is today Northern Saxony. This form of Frisian is more like the Northern Frisian spoken today in Heligoland whereas the Western Frisian spoken in Northern Holland is more like old English. The presence of the language in Saterland (where only a few still speak it) might suggest it was once linked along the coast.

          I actually met a couple of Dutch Frisians once in Crete who spoke this strange language. Big guys, blonde and they were insulted when I called them Dutch. Their language was barely comprehensible to me but while I can just about read Chaucer type old English the earlier stuff such as Beowulf etc I have never studied. I dare say someone like Tolkien could have made sense of them but he was a Professor of old English languages and some Welsh too.
          Last edited by snapper; 12 Mar 20,, 09:45.