Talk:Aldfrith of Northumbria

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Featured article Aldfrith of Northumbria is a featured article; it (or a previous version of it) has been identified as one of the best articles produced by the Wikipedia community. Even so, if you can update or improve it, please do so.
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September 4, 2007 Good article nominee Listed
February 11, 2008 Featured article candidate Promoted
Current status: Featured article


This sentence in the article surprised me: "Aldfrith was the first king to rule both parts of Northumbria, northern Bernicia and southern Deira, throughout his reign"; was Oswald not king of both throughout his reign? I am not very familiar with Northumbrian history so pardon my ignorance if the answer is well known.

I'm also not sure that this fact is really worth mentioning. It seems an oddity, rather than a fundamental statement about stability of the kingdom. *Mike Christie (talk) 02:01, 16 August 2007 (UTC)


I notice this is up for GA. There are a couple of paragraphs that aren't cited, so it's likely to fail quickly. I am willing to help find citations, but I suggest withdrawing it till they're done. Then I think it could go straight to FA; it's in pretty good shape. Mike Christie (talk) 02:23, 16 August 2007 (UTC)


According to the 5 criteria for B- class...

  • B-Class-1 -Yes– Is the article suitably referenced, and are all major points appropriately cited?
  • B-Class-2 – Does the article reasonably cover the topic, and not contain major omissions or inaccuracies?
  • B-Class-3 -Yes– Does the article have a defined structure, including a lead section and one or more sections of content?
  • B-Class-4 – Is the article free from major grammatical errors?
  • B-Class-5 –No infobox template, yes to images- Does the article contain appropriate supporting materials, such as an infobox, images, or diagrams?
  • According to the Template:Biography substitution template...many of the requested sections have been included in the main article. There could be an See also section which would include some links from the What links here page.
  • Lead seems to follow all guidelines... Subject's popular name (birthdate – death) can be a lead-in to the subject's real, formal, or extended name. Describe the subject's nationality and profession(s) in which the subject is most notable. Provide a description of the subject's major contributions in the immediately relevant field(s) of notable expertise.
  • 1. Context -Subject's popular name describing the category or field in which the idea belongs.
  • 2. Characterization - appearance, age, gender, educational level, vocation or occupation, financial status, marital status, social status, cultural background, hobbies, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, ambitions, motivations, personality, what the term refers to as used in the given context.
  • 3. Explanation - deeper meaning and background.
  • 4. Compare and contrast - how it relates to other topics, if appropriate.
  • 5. Criticism - include criticism if there has been significant, notable criticism. need to compare to other Northumbria royalty or other royalty

I hope this is of some help. SriMesh | talk 02:26, 26 August 2007 (UTC)

GA hold[edit]

This is a very solid page on a figure for whom there is obviously not all that much information available. I do think that several things would make it even better:

  • Many of the sentences in the lead are a bit stubby - could you combine some of them?
  • Most of the sentences in the lead use the same structure "main noun + main verb". This leads to a feeling of repetition even when the information is not repetitious. Perhaps you could vary the sentence structure a bit?
  • After the defeat of Penda of Mercia, Aldfrith's father ruled the largest and most powerful kingdom in Britain. - Could you offer some some dates for events such as the defeat of Penda of Mercia at the beginning of the article so that readers unfamiliar with the history can situtate themselves? Is it correct to call the area "Britain" at this point in time?
  • His general Berht led an army to Ireland in 684, ravaging Mag Breg, the plain of Brega, heartland of Fínsnechta Fledach, the High King of Ireland, destroying churches and taking hostages. - This sentence is a little hard to follow.
  • Are there no pictures of any kind that could be used to brighten up the article a bit, especially at the beginning? (They tend to draw readers in.)
  • Might you think about staggering the maps and quotes left and right, so that the page is more aesthetically pleasing?
  • I see you use Bede as a source in your notes. It would probably be best to make it absolutely clear that modern scholars concur with Bede's account on these points, otherwise the article has a tinge of original research about it.

If you have any questions about this review, drop me a line on my talk. Otherwise, I will check back in a week and re-review the article. Awadewit | talk 05:09, 27 August 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for the comments. I think that most of these points should be resolved. As far as Bede, Eddi, etc, are concerned, these sources should only be being used to support the claim that they say whatever it is they say. Novel synthesis would be an argument drawing conclusions from these sources, and I don't think there is anything like that here. As for Britain, or Great Britain as Wikipedia has it, it is a geographical term: a large island off the coast of north-west Europe.
The balance of the article needs fixing. There is too much background and not enough on Aldfrith. I have some material that could be added on the Bewcastle Cross, but not enough. The section on the church needs more context. More could be said on Aldfrith's relations with Aldhelm and Adomnán. Looking at the general balance of opinion, the article probably overstates the case for Aldfrith being middle-aged in 685, rather than in his late 20s or middle 30s. That's Cramp's opinion in the ODNB piece, and I think we have to give that proper weight. Not enough on Mrs Aldfrith either. And the maps are not ideal. In short, there is a lot to do before the article is as comprehensive and balanced as it could be. Angus McLellan (Talk) 09:09, 2 September 2007 (UTC)
  • I should have been clearer. When I asked that you include modern sources along with Bede, I did so because, in our role as wikipedia editors, we are not in a position to judge the reliability of Bede. Clearly, some of what Bede wrote was reliable, but some is not. We need to find out what scholars have said is reliable from Bede's work. That is why I asked you to supplement the Bede citations with secondary works. Awadewit | talk 02:30, 4 September 2007 (UTC)
  • Perhaps Britain could be referred to as "the island of Britain", to be as clear as possible? Awadewit | talk 02:30, 4 September 2007 (UTC)
  • Per Angus McLellan's comments regarding balance, I had assumed that the reason for the imbalance between background and biography was lack of available information - is this correct? Awadewit | talk 02:30, 4 September 2007 (UTC)
  • But if all the featured articles jumped off bridges, would you, too? :) It is always best to support primary sources which are at times unreliable with reliable secondary sources. Awadewit | talk 02:22, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
  • I've changed the first appearance of "Britain" in the text to "island of [[Great Britain|Britain]]" as suggested.
  • Is the balance right? I'm not sure. The page is under 30k in size, so there's space to grow into before it becomes too large. The biographical material can be expanded by including more minority opinions - attributing them to the appropriate source - or more minor detail, but there is nothing of significance which is not mentioned in the article (so I believe, but I could be wrong). Aldfrith may not be as written-about as his father or his uncle Oswald, but there has been a great deal published on Northumbria in his time. Thanks again for the comments. Angus McLellan (Talk) 08:07, 4 September 2007 (UTC)
  • Perhaps someone with more knowledge of this period could better address the balance issue. Nice work on the article. Awadewit | talk 02:22, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
Thanks again for taking the time to look it over. Much appreciated! Angus McLellan (Talk) 18:56, 5 September 2007 (UTC)

New map[edit]

I put a new map up for the bishoprics and monasteries; the old one was impossible to read without clicking on it. I am starting to think that a map should be comprehensible in thumbnail, where possible, so I had a go. This map background is more coloured than the previous one was, so I used underlines rather than colours to distinguish the bishoprics from the monasteries. Please revert if this doesn't look good. Mike Christie (talk) 10:47, 8 January 2008 (UTC)

I'm not sure about the inclusion of Abercorn though... --MacRusgail (talk) 13:34, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
Well, Trumwise was expelled from Abercorn after Nechtansmere, so I guess the bishopric can be said to have existed at least a short time into Aldfrith's reign. I think it's OK to leave it there. Mike Christie (talk) 02:10, 11 January 2008 (UTC)

Reorganizing early life section[edit]

I'd like to add this family tree to the article, but it's going to have to go into the early life section. I'll move that quote box into the main text to make room. If anyone has a better idea of how to organize the section, let me know . . . . Mike Christie (talk) 02:12, 11 January 2008 (UTC)

I've added the family tree, but I now see the spelling Fín in Kirby. I took the spelling "Fína" from this source, used in the article. Any advice on which is preferable would be appreciated; I don't have a lot of sources that mention her so I can't easily do a source count. Any other comments on the tree appreciated too, of course. Mike Christie (talk) 13:40, 11 January 2008 (UTC)
Fína is a genitive, and is okay in certain positions. --MacRusgail (talk) 17:00, 11 January 2008 (UTC)
OK -- I assume I want Fín in that case, and have changed the tree accordingly. Mike Christie (talk) 01:59, 12 January 2008 (UTC)

Dál Riata question[edit]

I'm working on a new version of this in a sandbox, and have a question about this: Oswiu "accompanied his brothers and supporters into exile in Dál Riata and Ireland". My knowledge of this period is weak outside the Anglo-Saxons, so I apologize for asking obvious questions. I was under the impression that Dál Riata by this date referred primarily to what is now western Scotland. So does the quoted phrase mean that we know Oswiu spent time both in Dál Riata and in Ireland, as two places? Or does it mean that Dál Riata was in Ireland, and Oswiu would have been elsewhere in Ireland other than just whatever the domain of Dál Riata was? I was originally inclined to cut "and Ireland" on the grounds that this article is about Aldfrith, but of course wherever we can deduce Oswiu was, there Aldfrith probably went too, at least some of the time, so it is directly relevant to Aldfrith. Mike Christie (talk) 14:41, 12 January 2008 (UTC)

Dalriada (whichever spelling!) spanned the Straits of Moyle, and there was actually a "Dalriada" on either side. --MacRusgail (talk) 17:23, 12 January 2008 (UTC)
I think I intended it to mean "in Dál Riata (Argyll and the Antrim Glens) and (perhaps) in (other parts of) Ireland". Dál Riata would be fine, although it would be reasonable to think that Aldfrith may have visited his mother's king in Tyrone. The only rather tenuous evidence for Bernician exiles anywhere other than Dál Riata and Pictland I know of is the appearance of the name Conaing (from OE cyning) among the Síl nÁedo Sláine of the Irish east midlands during the first half of the C7th, but that could have arrived in other ways. Angus McLellan (Talk) 01:06, 13 January 2008 (UTC)

First pass done[edit]

OK, I've done a first pass through. I'm going to go back through all my refs next and see if there's anything else I can add, but I doubt there will be -- this is a thorough job. Deacon made a comment on Image talk:Aldfrith British Isles.gif that the map should show Fortriu. Actually those refs I have that talk about Scotland refer to it as Pictland or just Picts (or Northern and Southern Picts) but I'll take Deacon's word for it if that's that the usual name for this period. I also want to add Driffield to the other map. Any other locations? Mike Christie (talk) 23:55, 13 January 2008 (UTC)

Well, Fortriu is the name of the dominant Pictish sub-kingdom (see ... I dunno... Woolf, "The Verturian Hegemony: A Mirror in the North"; Mercia: an Anglo-Saxon Kingdom in Europe, "Dun Nechtain, Fortriu and the Geography of the Picts", SHR, Pictland to Alba, etc.), located around the Moray Firth. Probably a good parallel is Bernicia/Northumbria. It's no big deal whether it's called "Fortriu" or "the Picts" in Aldfrith's period though. Deacon of Pndapetzim (Talk) 01:34, 15 January 2008 (UTC)
OK, I used "Picts", since we don't mention Fortriu by that name in the article. I've uploaded the new version and also added "Driffield" to the other map. Mike Christie (talk) 02:22, 15 January 2008 (UTC)

Letter from Aldhelm question[edit]

"He was the recipient of Aldhelm's treatise on the numerology of the number seven, the Epistola ad Acircium." Kirby p. 143 calls it "a treatise on metre". Perhaps it's both? Mike Christie (talk) 01:22, 15 January 2008 (UTC)

Looking in Lapidge's "Aldhelm" article in the Blackwell Encyclopedia, I see Aldhelm also wrote a De Metris on metre. I suspect Kirby nodded here; I'll leave this as is. Mike Christie (talk) 01:48, 15 January 2008 (UTC)

Ready for FA[edit]

I think this is now ready for FAC. I've got a couple at FAC right now, so I'll wait till Offa of Mercia is promoted or archived, and then put this up as a conomination with Angus. I'll give it one more copyedit read but I think it's clean. Mike Christie (talk) 02:24, 15 January 2008 (UTC)

Minor things[edit]

In the article, the names Alhfrith and Alchfrith appear to refer to the same person and both are wikilinked to article Alhfrith of Deira via redirection from Alchfrith of Deira. To make things less confusing perhaps the spelling should be made consistent within the article. The wikilinked article itself uses three different spellings so I'll leave the change, if needed, to someone who knows more on the subject.

The quote "to wave and slip backward ever lower" reads a bit off. Google book search does not return hits for the phrase with wave, but does show the phrase with waver in two books, including Bede/Farmer's "Ecclesiastical History of the English People". Since book preview is restricted there, I cannot verify use of waver at the original source and leave any necessary correction for someone with access to the book content. (Book search does fully preview the book "Scotland: The Story of a Nation" using the same Bede quote with waver, though using the plural backwards.) -- Michael Devore (talk) 04:16, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

Alhfrith's article was recently moved from Alchfrith and I forgot to ensure consistency so thanks for catching that. Good catch on the quote too; I checked my copy and it's "waver", just as you say. It's "backward" in my copy so I left it that way; translator's licence from the original Latin. I fixed it in the article. Thanks. Mike Christie (talk) 10:18, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

Golden Age[edit]

I think the Golden Age stuff belongs either in "Aldfrith's Northumbria", or perhaps in a "Golden Age" section. It feels rather out of place where it is now. Thoughts? Angus McLellan (Talk) 22:00, 31 January 2008 (UTC)

Nice additions on the Golden Age. I agree it unbalanced the article a bit, but I've now split the "Reign" section into a "Golden Age" section and a "Relations with the Church section, and I think that helped. The split seems to solve several problems, but there are now three paragraphs that remain disconnected.
  • The coins. This isn't too bad: coins are an aspect of material culture, and so the Golden Age section isn't unreasonable. Needs an intro sentence, though, I think.
  • The short para mentioning the only battle of the realm. Seems out of place anywhere I put it.
  • The short para saying he was a scholar. Ditto.
I am stumped on these three for now. What do you think of the reorg of the sections? If that's OK, we can focus on those three paragraphs -- Awadewit made comments at the FAC about this disconnectedness; it's changed since then but I don't think the problem's gone away yet.
-- Mike Christie (talk) 02:19, 1 February 2008 (UTC)
I just moved the battle para to the first section, and linked it to Moisl's comments by pointing out that Northumbria fought the Picts. I think that deals with that paragraph well enough. The coins paragraph I think is probably OK. That leaves the scholar paragraph. How about starting it with something like "Aldfrith's interests in the writings of learned men such as Adomnan and Aldhelm led Bede to describe Aldfrith as a scholar" or "Aldfrith differed from the earlier Anglo-Saxon warrior kings, such as Penda, in his interest in learning. He was described by Bede as a scholar"? That latter is better, and I don't think would need a citation. What do you think? Mike Christie (talk) 12:38, 1 February 2008 (UTC)
That would be great. I will add a bit more on scholarship and writing when I get my head round it.
One thing that occurs to me, bearing in mind the comment about it not being clear that Ecgfrith was Aldfrith's half brother, is that the family tree doesn't show Riemmelth/Rhiainfellt. Although table 9 in Yorke, Kings and Kingdoms, doesn't indicate which children she associates with which mother, on p. 79 she refers to Alhfrith as Ecgfrith's half-brother, i.e. son of Riemmelth. I am fairly sure that everyone says Osthryth was Ecgfrith and Ælfwine's full sister, and Ælfflæd certainly was. On onomastic grounds one would take Ælhflæd to be another of Eanflæd's brood, but I believe that someone, somewhere suggested she may have been Alhfrith's sister on chronological grounds. This isn't particularly important here - half-siblings are half-siblings - but if the tree was reused (e.g. in Oswiu and Alhfrith and Ecgfrith) it would be important. Angus McLellan (Talk) 12:54, 1 February 2008 (UTC)
I added a version of the warrior-king sentence; I'll post a note to Awadewit at FAC to take another look and we'll see what she says. I don't have my refs with me so can't check on what you're telling me, above, but I don't recall seeing anything about a Riemmelth or Rhiainfellt. I assume this is another wife of Oswiu's. I'll dig in my refs and get citations and see what I can find -- it's going to be darn hard to fit a third wife into that chart, so I might have to do a bit of surgery. If it's unknown for some of the children whether Rhiainfellt or Eanflaed is the mother, I'm not quite sure how I would best show that on the chart -- maybe just show those children descending directly from Oswiu rather than from the marriage union. Mike Christie (talk) 13:25, 1 February 2008 (UTC)


I hadn't heard of Osana before Yorkshirian added her name to the infobox. I put a question-mark on it; the only good-looking secondary source I can find for this is Coulstock, The Collegiate Church of Wimborne Minster; Coulstock comments that "modern historians seem to know nothing of a sister" of either Osred. I would really like to find a better source than this, but I think this is good enough to mention the rumour. I don't have access to a copy of Giraldus Cambrensis to look up the reference there -- I'd be curious to know exactly what he says and it would be worth adding a footnote. Mike Christie (talk) 12:58, 3 February 2008 (UTC)

And as she says, which Osred? I'd say that an aside in the Osred articles would suffice. Angus McLellan (Talk) 13:27, 3 February 2008 (UTC)
I'd support cutting it again if you feel that's best, but I think a cautious note is probably OK too -- though as I say a better source would be nice. Mike Christie (talk) 13:33, 3 February 2008 (UTC)

Map comments from FAC[edit]

Some notes on how to address qp10qp's comments from FAC. I think the following maps are probably needed:

  • A map of the British Isles, showing Mercia, Wessex, East Anglia and Kent, just because they're the main A-S kingdoms. If we want the map readable without the user having to click on it, then Wales can't have more than one or two names on it -- that in turn implies that Dumnonia and the Welsh kingdoms can't be individually named. Perhaps "Native British kingdoms" in a band across Wales and Cornwall? Then Northumbria in the north, with Bernicia and Deira picked out. Dal Riata and Pictland. No cities marked. What else is needed for Ireland? I can use Image:Dalriada.png to get the location of Dal Riata, and I can mark it with a similar oval. What else is needed for Scotland?
  • A map of Northumbrian territory. I think the one in the article now is probably OK for this purpose, with the addition of Austerfield and whatever should go in Ayrshire ("Strathclyde"?). Possibly add Lindsey, though it would be right on the edge of that map. Anything else needed on this one?
  • A map showing more detail in Scotland, including Forfar, Iona, and key cities of the Scottish kingdoms. What cities and kingdoms should be on this?
  • A map showing more detail in Ireland -- qp suggested the Ui Neill, Tara, Brega, and the relevant kingdoms of the time.

Angus, if you can point me at maps that answer these questions I can use those to create new maps; or if you can send me scans that would work too. Mike Christie (talk) 01:44, 6 February 2008 (UTC)

I'll try and get some pointers for this tomorrow (or rather later today). Apologies for the delay, Angus McLellan (Talk) 23:50, 6 February 2008 (UTC)
I've done some work on the maps and I think they're OK now except that there's no map of Scotland, showing Iona or Forfar. Unfortunately there's no easy way to fit in another map. I think the best thing to do is describe their location in the text and not add a map. I'll do that and post a note at FAC to say so. Mike Christie (talk) 17:51, 9 February 2008 (UTC)

RE: Image:Northern central British Isles c 700.gif. Why does "Strathclyde" have to float over Carrick and Galloway when the actual Strathclyde (meaning "Clyde Valley") is there and available to the west? Deacon of Pndapetzim (Talk) 19:46, 10 February 2008 (UTC)

The location is taken from Blair's map in Roman Britain and Early England. I've moved it a bit; not sure whether you're looking at the most recent version -- try hitting F5 (on a Windows machine) and see if that updates it. Anyway, I am happy to move the location, but I would like to have a reference to a secondary source map that gives the location you're talking about. The Blackwell Encyclopedia, for example, shows Strathclyde running from Dumbarton all the way to the Solway firth (map 9, p. 517, dated c. 700). Can you give me another source to use? Mike Christie (talk) 19:57, 10 February 2008 (UTC)
I think I'm looking at the most recent version. Strath means [river] valley, and this is widely known ... so you'd expect to find a river under the name. But on this map the name is closer to the rivers Cree and Nith (rather than the Clyde), which is kinda off-putting and misleading. The name "Strathclyde" is not attested until the later 9th century; if it is used for an earlier period (which it often is), it applies to the kingdom of Alt Clut (Dumbarton), a long way both physically and culturally from the cowboy country of Carrick. Even if this territory was part of the Alt Clut kingdom (for which there is not one iota of evidence), it certainly isn't the kingdom's heartlead which ... as the name would suggest, would be Strathclyde and more particularly the area we now call Inverclyde ("mouth of the Clyde") around modern Dumbarton, as well as the adjoinging Strathclyde areas around Glasgow and Cadzow (Hamilton). Deacon of Pndapetzim (Talk) 20:09, 10 February 2008 (UTC)
Regarding sources ... though I think the point is common sense ... Smyth's map "Southern Scotland AD 400-850" (Warlords and Holymen, p. 17) has Strathclyde firmly in Strathclyde ... Kyle and Carrick are marked seperately. Deacon of Pndapetzim (Talk) 20:18, 10 February 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for the source. Page 17 isn't visible on Google Books preview so I made a guess based on your description; take a look and tell me if that's close enough. Mike Christie (talk) 20:46, 10 February 2008 (UTC)
Smyth's map has Strathclyde going on top and in line with the river Clyde. Strathclyde after all meant "Clyde Valley" ... it never fossilised beyond that; in the later Middle Ages is called vallis de Clud or (anglice) Cludesdale. Deacon of Pndapetzim (Talk) 20:57, 10 February 2008 (UTC)
OK, I moved it again. Let me know if this is better. Mike Christie (talk) 22:43, 10 February 2008 (UTC)

Automatic peer review suggestions[edit]

The following suggestions were generated by a semi-automatic javascript program, and might not be applicable for the article in question.

  • As done in WP:FOOTNOTE, footnotes usually are located right after a punctuation mark (as recommended by the CMS, but not mandatory), such that there is no space in between. For example, the sun is larger than the moon [2]. is usually written as the sun is larger than the moon.[2][?]
  • Please ensure that the article has gone through a thorough copyediting so that it exemplifies some of Wikipedia's best work. See also User:Tony1/How to satisfy Criterion 1a.[?]

You may wish to browse through User:AndyZ/Suggestions for further ideas. Thanks, Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk 05:02, 7 February 2008 (UTC)

Non automatic note: I have never seen article that would raise so few flags on that script; good job following MoS! --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk 05:03, 7 February 2008 (UTC)

Left over from FAC[edit]

Outstanding points to deal with.

  1. There was a note about Eadfrith having "Irish sympathies"; it was queried at FAC. I assume it refers to Eadfrith having sympathy with the Celtic Church's position on various matters. I couldn't find it in the cited source so I cut it. Angus has commented that he has a source for this and will re-add it.
  2. Dunbar as a royal centre; queried at FAC. The Deacon added a source for it. It would be nice to have a sentence clarifying what "royal centre" means, for those unfamiliar with such terms.
  3. Deacon has asked for more specific discussion of the sources. Angus intends to add a paragraph on sources, probably to the end of the background section.
  4. I will cut the historical background a little; two reviewers commented that it was rather long.
  5. The Deacon wants a coherent discussion of Aldfrith's ties to Iona in one place in the article. I am not sure what he means by this but will think about it some more. Here's an additional comment from the Deacon on my talk page: "I think you could improve it by treating the Iona thing in one place. The church section ... split off the first paragraph Aldfrith the scholar, run it from or into the Iona part and then perhaps into the Golden Age. A few other shifts of text, and the "choppiness" would be mostly gone (it can never really go). E.g. you've got most of the church section in Aldfrith's Northumbria rather than "Relations with the Church", "Aldfrith's Northumbria" section is not clearly distinguishable in content from the rest of the article, etc, etc. If you changed the first, the actual church and Wilfrid section would still be small and not greatly adequate IMHO, but you can put that down to Deacon's idiosyncrasies."
  6. Qp10qp indicated he thinks the discussion of the conflict with Wilfrid could be expanded somewhat, so I will probably have a crack at that.
  7. Qp10qp left a long note about where Aldfrith was when Ecgfrith died, and what the relevant sources are. Angus commented: "I don't think there is anything much. The Anonymous Life of Cuthbert says he was there c. 684. The surmise that he was there in 685 also is based on Simeon of Durham's claim that Ecgfrith was buried on Iona. It's a bizarre thing to make up, or so it seems to me, but Fraser thinks (thought?) that it may be a misunderstanding on Simeon's part, Inchcolm (Columba's other island) in the Forth being intended. Sharp in the Penguin Life of Saint Columba wonders whether the body went to Iona because Aldfrith was there." This could be worked into the article by anyone who has these sources. Mike Christie (talk) 18:31, 11 February 2008 (UTC)
On point 5: I've moved one paragraph from the "Aldfrith's Northumbria" section to the "Relations with the Church" section, which is in line with the Deacon's comments above. I think this is an improvement. However, I'm not clear what the Deacon means by "split off the first paragraph Aldfrith the scholar". The only sourced mention of Iona in the article is that that's where he was before Ecgfrith died; there's some material quoted by Angus above that implies he was there at the time of Ecgfrith's death and the body was brought there, but I don't have those sources at the moment. Is the assumption that Aldfrith spent a lot of time on Iona and was educated or lived there? Is there a source for that? Mike Christie (talk) 16:27, 14 February 2008 (UTC)
I'd planned to cut a little from the additional historical material Angus added. However, with the move of the paragraph about the church I no longer think the Golden Age section needs cutting, so I'm going to leave it, at least until I can understand what the Deacon is suggesting under point 5. After that reorganization it might be beneficial to take another look at cutting. Mike Christie (talk) 00:22, 16 February 2008 (UTC)


The thing about Dunbar is that, to me, "royal centre" is meaningless in itself. The only source I can find (but there may be others that I haven't come across) is the part in Eddius where he talks of Wilfred being imprisoned at Dunbar. This seems to refer to the reign of Ecgfrith and a sheriff, called Tydlin, of the royal borough of "Broninis" (unidentified): "He [Ecgfrith] sent Wilfred to his town of Dunbar under the supervision of a sherriff called Tydlin . . .". Eddius says that in 681, Abbess Aebbe (Oswiu's sister) convinced Ecgfrith, while he was staying at Coldingham on a progress, to release Wilfred. All this is in the Penguin "Life of Wilfred" (the full details are D. H. Farmer, ed.; J. F. Webb, trans., "Life of Wilfred", by Eddius Stephanus, in The Age of Bede, London: Penguin, 2004, pages 145–48, ISBN 014044727X.)

All this certainly gives a picture of strong royal control on that coast. However, I don't know what words have been translated as "sheriff" and "borough" or what "his town" implies—it could just mean that the town was part of the Northumbrian kingdom. The Alcock ref may cover "presumed royal centre", but in my view it would be enough for the article simply to say "with the town of Dunbar". qp10qp (talk) 20:34, 11 February 2008 (UTC)

Stephen's urbs sua Dynbaer (his town [of] Dunbar), implies royal centre strongly, as there would be no reason to use sua unless royal demesne property were being distinguished. Anglo-Saxon age Dunbar is moreover too large and too good a fortress to have been left in the possession of a subordinate lordship ... evidenced further by Cinaed mac Ailpin's alleged burning of the town. In Alcock, it is discussed explicitly as a royal and administrative centre; it's not like Alcock is some mediocre historian. Why exactly should we depart from this interpretation? For what it's worth, Dunbar was the the centre of the later medieval "earldom of Dunbar", the Scottish protected rump of the post-Norman Bernician lordship. Deacon of Pndapetzim (Talk) 20:56, 11 February 2008 (UTC)
I think you misunderstand my drift, which is only that "royal centre" is meaningless to the reader in itself (whatever it might mean to historians). It cries out for illumination, in the article text, along the lines you have just given. Even if circumstantial, that is very helpful. qp10qp (talk) 21:18, 11 February 2008 (UTC)
I agree that a parenthetical comment would be helpful to the reader here, though I don't feel confident about creating such a comment based on the sources I have. If someone else feels they can add something useful, please do. Mike Christie (talk) 00:19, 16 February 2008 (UTC)

Aldfrith's whereabouts[edit]

I don't think Bede's account should be overlooked in treating this matter. As I mentioned before, Bede says in the Life of Cuthbert, "next year Ecgfrith was slain by the Picts and the throne went to his bastard brother Aldfrith recently returned from his studies in Ireland, where he had willingly exiled himself for the love of learning". This seems to me the clearest indication we have of where Aldfrith was (unless the translation is faulty). qp10qp (talk) 21:19, 11 February 2008 (UTC)


I note that Deacon calls him Stephen, and I wonder whether the time has come for the articles to switch from "Eddius" to "Stephen of Ripon", since scholarship now shows that Eddius's dates are slightly too early for him to have written the Life of Wilfred? "Stephen of Ripon" is therefore more accurate, I suggest. qp10qp (talk) 21:28, 11 February 2008 (UTC)

Agreed; I made the change. Mike Christie (talk) 00:18, 16 February 2008 (UTC)

Nico Ditch[edit]

It's now thought that Nico Ditch was a boundary marker rather than a defensive ditch given its shape (a U shape rather than the more common V of a military ditch) and the absence of a bank which would have been very useful for defenders. Also the location suggests a boundary marker as mosslands were pretty much featureless and Nico Ditch could have helped secure a border. I understand that Higham may cite Nico as an example of a defensive earthwork between Mercia and Northumbria, so stating he's wrong may count as original research, but maybe a footnote could be added explaining that the interpretation of Nico Ditch has changed? Nev1 (talk) 23:54, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

Sure, if we have a source for the new interpretation -- do you have a source to hand? Mike Christie (talklibrary) 23:57, 4 December 2010 (UTC)
Page 41 of Nevell, Mike (1998). Lands and Lordships in Tameside. Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council with the University of Manchester Archaeological Unit. ISBN 1-871324-18-1.  should do the trick. It's used in the article on Nico Ditch to support the conclusion; I don't have it to hand to give you a quote, but the article is fully referenced. Nev1 (talk) 00:05, 5 December 2010 (UTC)
If you prefer that I provide a quote from the source rather than cannibalise another FA, that's fine by me and I can provide one in a couple of weeks when I have access to the book. It's not a particularly urgent issue. Nev1 (talk) 00:17, 5 December 2010 (UTC)
I've added something, which could probably be improved; see what you think. Mike Christie (talklibrary) 22:45, 5 December 2010 (UTC)
Sorry for the late reply; it looks fine to me. Nev1 (talk) 22:33, 20 December 2010 (UTC)

Roman Catholic Church vs "Anglican amnesia"?[edit]

I find it odd that an article about a Roman Catholic king, with references to Bede, Alcuin, Bishop Wilfrid, Saint Cuthbert, the Lindisfarne Gospels, the Codex Amiatinus, etc., etc., etc., doesn't use the word Catholic or the phrase Roman Catholic even once. Isn't that sort of like writing an article about Barack Obama without using the words American or United States? Is there anyone who can explain this for me? -- (talk) 05:36, 27 January 2013 (UTC)

Because at this time there wasn't really a "Catholic" church as opposed to other denominations. It was all one "Christian" church. Don't forget that Theodore of Tarsus was from an area that was Greek speaking but still was suitable to become Archbishop of Canterbury. It's anachronistic to speak of "Catholic" in this period - everyone considered themselves part of the same church. Only heretics such as Nestorians or Arians would have been outside the church. Ealdgyth - Talk 13:35, 27 January 2013 (UTC)
The existence of a multitude of heretical "denominations" after 1517 is hardly an argument that it was not the Catholic Church between the years 27 and 1517, and still is today. "Roman Catholic" is simply shorthand for "the universal Christian Church whose earthly leader is the Bishop of Rome".
Regarding Saint Theodore: did he introduce himself to people as "the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury"? No, probably not. But, did he receive his authority as AofC from the Bishop of Rome? Yes. Was he obedient to the Pope? Yes. Did he say the Mass in Latin? Yes (I think). Did he say at the end of the Credo "Et unam, sanctam, catholicam et apostolicam Ecclesiam"? Yes. These actions and beliefs define him as a "Roman Catholic". (You know, "If it walks like a duck . . .").
Regarding "Catholic" as an anachronism, as early as 381 Catholics were professing to believe "in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church . . . ".
Do I dare also point out that the only use of "Christian" on the page is twice in the References section because it happens to be in two book titles? Is "Christian" also an anachronism here? -- (talk) 19:39, 27 January 2013 (UTC)
There's a good deal of coverage of the church in Aldfrith's reign. In fact there's a whole section on it, so I think it's given appropriate emphasis. The article assumes that a reader understands that "church" in the British Isles at that date could only mean Christianity. I think that's appropriate; every article makes assumptions about what its readers know -- we don't explain where England or Ireland are, for example. I agree with Ealdgyth regarding the use of "Catholic"; it would be anachronistic, and worse, it might mislead some readers who don't know the history of the church into thinking the church was already split by this time. In fact it was split, of course, but the contextually relevant split was the one between the British church and the Roman church, and that's largely over with in England by Aldfrith's time. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 14:35, 28 January 2013 (UTC)