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.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Further reflections on the Watlington hoard

Two letters in Monday's Daily Telegraph suggest modifications to the interpretation being given to the coins and treasure found last October in Watlington. Both appear to make good points, worthy of consideration.

The first, from Robin Nonhebel, proceeds from the good point that one should be careful about rewriting history on the basis of one find. Given that the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle was sponsored by the West Saxon dynasty that it describes Coelwulf as a "foolish king's thegn", even though he probably had royal blood, as he had been made a puppet king by the Vikings in Western Mercia, and that inevitably the West Saxon's saw this as collusion with the enemy. He continues:
"However, Alfred was a pragmatist,Ceolwulf was powerful enough to defeat the Welsh, and an alliance of two Christian states against the pagan Vikings is not surprising. Aethelred I, Alfred's brother and predecessor, had allied with Burgred of Mercia and had taken an anrmy to support the Mercians in 867. Alfred would presumably have cultivated friendship with Ceolwulf as it was in his interests, and previous finds have shown similarities between the coins of both kings. Although the Chronicle is critical of Ceolwulf and writes little about him, many historians assumed that Alfred did not share the Chronicle's antipathy. The discovery provides support for this analysis. It does not " rewrite history"."

E.C.Coleman suggests in another letter that the coin "is nothing to do with Ceolwulf II and everything to do with Alfred's Christianity. The scene is boxed in on three sides by beaded lines representing the pearly gates of Heaven. The haloed figures are God the Father and Christ with the Holy Spirit descending from above to complete the Trinity. The disc in the lower centre is the Earth, and the bones above signify death. The image shows the world's dead being judged"

A rare coin showing King Alfred ‘the Great’ of Wessex (r.871-99) and King Ceolwulf II of Mercia (874-79)

Image: Daily Telegraph

No comments: