Frequently television amazes with its panoramic views of the beautiful world that we live in: the fields and hedges, rivers and coastline, beautiful buildings photographed from a helicopter by a cameraman with a precisian made camera. I find these precise and vividly coloured moving pictures both familiar and unfamiliar, I can see more of this beautiful England than I would be able to see if I were standing on my own two feet on a pathway leading through green fields and walking towards magnificent trees stretching up into the blue sky so high above me.
To be strictly accurate I don’t walk very far nowadays, my bones are arthritic and my joints telling me its time to be motorised. I want to imagine that I’m still part of this awesome, amazing world. It would probably be true to say I’m a slow learner, in earlier years I experienced life through books, looked at rationally this would seem to be to be the wrong way round. I should have been out experiencing life face to face, but a book was much more under my control, I could shut it whenever I felt like it.
On Saturday night it gave me a thrill of recognition to see my own district featured in a television programme. The programme was called Saints and Sinners: Britain’s Millennium of Monasteries, Dr Janina Ramirez linked the stories of the first Roman monasteries in England. In the North-east in the seventh century Egfrid, King of Northumbria gave land to set up monasteries based on the Roman traditions separate from the Celtic traditions of Lindisfarne. The first monastery was established at St. Peter’s, Monkwearmouth on the north bank of the River Wear in 674 by Benedict Biscop. This was so successful that in 682 a second monastery, St Paul’s was established on the river Tyne at Jarrow. Benedict made clear that the two sites should function as one monastery in two places. The most striking remains are in the name of the parish and in St Peter’s church which is one of the oldest churches in Great Britain. In Jarrow the ruins of the monastery is marked out with stone slabs, the Saxon chancel survives with the oldest stained glass window in the world.
Benedict created a great library in the monastery and made it the cradle of not only English art but also of English literature. A great bible was written in the monastery by a monk encouraged by Abbot Ceolfrith, his name was Bede. Bede established himself as England’s leading scriptural and historical authority. Bede’s writings, most importantly his “Historia-ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum” became so popular in the 8th century, not only assured the reputation of the monastery, but influenced the development of Monkwearmouth-Jarrow’s distinctive insular minuscule script, developed to increase the speed of book production.
Monkwearmouth- Jarrow was attacked by the Vikings at the end of the 8th century and was destroyed by the Danes in about 860 and finally abandoned in the late 9th century.
I have been a teacher and a lecturer for a number of years. I am married with two sons. I'm interested drama, films, TV, books, society in general, poverty and riches and political systems.
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