Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding.
I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... It was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.
Thinking of visiting Oxford?
Allow me to be your guide... and discover the history of Oxford with an Oxford historian.
I offer a wide range of guided walks around the city and university. These can be a general introduction to the history and architecture or looking at specific themes and subjects.
I am a Catholic and a historian based in Oxford, where I am a member of Oriel College. My research, for a long delayed D.Phil., is a study of Richard Fleming, Bishop of Lincoln in the second decade of the fifteenth century. I also work as a freelance tutor in History and as an independent tour guide.
I was received into the Church in 2005 and am a Brother of the External Oratory of St Philip Neri at the Oxford Oratory.
Since I posted about the Anglo-Saxon discoveries at Trumpington in Anglo-Saxon Christian burial discovery there have been further links provided through the Medieval Religion discussion group
A report from last year can be read here, and now the parallel with the contemporary grave of a young girl at Ely who is thought to have been associated with the monastery there, as explained here, suggests a monastic origin.
An article in Friday's Independent [Ugh!] has a clearer indication of the archaeologists' rationale for thinking the site at Trumpington to be monastic, and can be read here. In particular the article says that the bodies "were interred adjacent to a high status settlement consisting of a 12 metre long timber hall and at least half a dozen other buildings with substantial semi-subterranean storage cellars" and that the finds included " fragments of posh French-originating shiny black ceramic wine jugs - in England a type of pottery previously found mainly on monastic sites."
In summary "The female graves, the high status nature of the site and the Christian burial rite all combine to suggest that the princess and her companions may well have been nuns – and that the settlement may have been part of a nunnery. It’s known that the various newly Christianized Anglo-Saxon monarchs of the time competed with each other to establish monasteries and nunneries as a proof of their Christian piety. Indeed it’s conceivable that the princess’s parents enrolled their daughter in such a nunnery to further demonstrate their commitment to their new faith (a common practice at the time)."
A reader's query about the future of the bones is one I cannot answer. These days archaeologists are sensitive to the fact that these are human remains, and indeed the law takes note of the fact of a dead body being discovered. Whether there will be eventual reburial or possibly preservation in an ossuary to enable future study I would not know. If a site is clearly a Christian burial local churchers sometimes provide a new burial place.