On the Resting-Places of the Saints is a heading given to two early medieval pieces of writing, also known as Þá hálgan and the Secgan, which exist in various manuscript forms in both Old English and Latin, the earliest surviving manuscripts of which date to the mid-11th century. Secgan is so named from its Old English incipit, Secgan be þam Godes sanctum þe on Engla lande aerost reston "Tale of God's saints who first rested in England"), and is a list of fifty places which had shrines and remains of Anglo-Saxon saints. Þá hálgan (pronounced thar halgan) is a version of the so-called Kentish Royal Legend (its incipit Her cyð ymbe þa halgan þe on Angelcynne restað "Here [follows] a relation on the saints who rest in the English nation") is a heading which appears to be for both texts, as the Kentish legend, which comes first, is actually an account of how various members of the royal family of Kent, descendants of Aethelbert of Kent, founded monasteries and came to be regarded as saints. As such it is closer to other hagiographical texts than to the list of burial sites that follows it. The texts describe people living from the 7th to 10th centuries, and they exist in both Old English and Latin versions, but both have their earliest known manuscripts dating from the 11th century.

The Manuscripts

The two texts now known as 'Þá hálgan' and 'Secgan' are known from two extant manuscripts written in Old English, that were transcribed in the 11th century. The manuscript known as Stowe MS 944, (folia 29v-39r), the older of the two, is thought to have been written shortly after 1031. Rollason (1978) argues that the scribe was including material dating to as early as the mid 9th century (for example the reference to Ubbanford).[1]

Stowe MS 944 is a bound volume now in the British Library, the full scanned images of which are at British Library Online.[2] It begins with a history of Hyde Abbey, Winchester, written in 1771, followed by a wide collection of much older original source documents. A selection of medieval drawings, is followed by a Liber vitae, written in 1031 consisting of lists of names of brethren and benefactors of the New Minster, also at Winchester, and substantially annotated. Other historiographical texts follow, including the will of King Ælfred.[3] The two documents being considered here, originally composed entirely separately, were then written into the same Old English manuscript, under a combined heading of 'On the Resting-Places of the Saints'. However, it is the second document ('Secgan') which provided the list of saints. The first, ('Þá hálgan') includes mention of many saints, particularly those relating to Kent, but written as part of a narrative of the Kentish Royal Legend.

Her Cyðymbe þa halgan þe on Angel cynne restað: a treatise on the family of the Kentish kings, their holy character and works (ff. 34v-36v).
Her onygynð secgean be þam Godes s[an]c[tu]m þe on engla lande ærest reston: a treatise, in continuation of the preceding, showing the places, with their adjacent waters, in England, and one place in Ireland, where the Saints' remains are deposited (ff. 36v-39r).

CCCC 201: The two documents are found in substantially the same (but not identical) form in the Parker Library, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge (CCCC 201, pp. 149–151). CCCC 201 is a substantial 3-volume set of manuscripts, with 96 constituent pieces of writing, in various 'hands' (different people's handwriting). Mostly written in Old English, it begins with Homilies of St Wolfstan.[4]

Vitellius D: A third OE version was in the Cotton library's Vitellius D. xvii. Unfortunately this volume was destroyed in the fire of 1731.

Vitellius A3: This is one of several Latin translations of the Old English texts. It survived the 1731 fire and is now in the British Library's Cotton Vitellius A 3 ff3-5. Both extant OE texts and this Latin version were published by Felix Liebermann as Die Heiligen Englands: Angelsächsisch unt Lateinisch, a German volume published in 1889,[5] which is still the only scholarly published version of these texts.[6]

Þá hálgan

Þá hálgan (ˈθɑː ˈhɑːlgɑn) is a version of a wider group of texts on the Kentish Royal Legend, and deals with the earliest Christian kings of Kent and their families, and their pious acts, starting with the baptism of king Æthelberht of Kent by Augustine in AD 597.[7] The text traces four generations after Æthelberht, spanning the 7th century and thus the entire period of the Christianization of England. In addition to the extensive genealogy, (in which members of the family marry into the royal families of Mercia, Northumbria and East Anglia) it has an account of the foundation of the Abbey at Minster-in-Thanet, bound up with the lives of two murdered brothers Æthelred and Æthelberht, the founding Abbess at Thanet, Domne Eafe, and her daughter saint Mildthryth.[8]

The particular version of the Legend that accompanies the list of saints below mentions many Kentish saints and their resting places, and thus complements well the Secgan list, which has very few entries from that area. It is possible that a compiler had access to a specifically Kentish list that he drew on while collating his material.[9] In addition to those mentioned above, Þá hálgan notes Æthelburh of Kent (who rests at Lyminge), Eanswith (Folkestone), Eormengyth (near Thanet), Ermenilda (Ely), Seaxburh (Ely), Æthelthryth (Ely), Werburgh (Hanbury,then Chester), Eorcengota (overseas).[8]


The Secgan (abbreviated R.P.S. in the Oxford Dictionary of Saints[10]) is a list of 54 places in England where saints' remains are deposited, listing a total of 89 saints, of whom 79 were active in England. The list is itemized with a formulaic Ðonne, e.g.

Ðonne resteð sanctus Congarus confessor on Cungresbirig (37b, "then, St Congar the confessor rests in Congresbury")

in many cases the site is further identified by a topographical feature, mostly a river, e.g.

Ðonne resteð sanctus Iohannes biscop on þare stowe Beferlic, neah þare ea Hul (5a, "then, St John the bishop rests at the site Beverley, near the River Hull").[11] In addition to the two Old English versions, there are a larger number of manuscripts with the same, or very similar material in Latin. Some of these appear to be direct translations of these known OE lists, while others are from earlier, or divergent lists as the names and places do not have a match in every instance. The list below summarises the names and places from both the Old English lists, and the Latin Secgan of Liebermann's 'V' manuscript.[12]

List of the Saints and their resting places

"Her onginneð secgan be þam Godes sanctum, þe on Engla lande ærost reston."
(Here begins the account of God's saints who first rested in England)
Saint's name[13] Resting place Notes and Refs
1[a] Modern form Old English Latin Town Church Old English Latin
2 * Saint Alban Sanctus Albanus, Martir Sanctus Albanus, Martyr St Albans St Albans Cathedral Wætlingeceastre Wætlingeceastre On the River Ver (Wærlame)
3 * Saint Columba Columcylle Sanctusque Columkille Dunkeld Dunkeld Cathedral Duncachán Duncabeam On the river Tay (Tau)
4 * Saint Cuthbert Cuthberhtus Beatus Cuthbertus Durham & Northam, Devon Durham Cathedral Dunhólm (Stowe has Ubbanford) Mentions both Dunholm & Ubbanford On the river Tweed (Twiode)
5 * Oswald of Northumbria sancte Oswald sancti Oswaldi regis et martyris Bamburgh,
Durham &
mid sancte Cuðberhte;
beati Cuthberti;
Body, head, and arm were dispursed.
5a * John of Beverley Iohannes, biscop Johannes, episcopus Beverley Beverley Minster Beferlic Beverlic River Hull (Húl)
6 * Ecgberht of Ripon,
* Saint Wilfrid,
* Saint
Ripon Ripon Cathedral Riopum Hryopan River Ure (Earp)
6a * Chad of Mercia
* Cedd
* Ceatta
Lichfield Lichfield Cathedral Licetfeld Licetfeld River Tame (Tamer)
7 * Saint Hybald of Lindsey Higebold on Lindesige Higeboldus apud Lindesige Hibaldstow St Hybald's Church, Hibaldstow Cecesége Cecesege River Ancholme (Oncel)
8 * Æthelred I of East Anglia,
* Osthryth,
* Oswald of Northumbria
Æðælredus Bardney Bardney Abbey Bardanege Bardanig River Witham (Wiðma)
9 * Saint /Repton Eadburh Ædburh Southwell Southwell Minster Suðwillum Suðwillan On the R Trent (Trionte). She was Abbess of Repton and friend of Guthlac
10 * Guthlac of Crowland Guðlac Guthlacus Crowland Crowland Abbey Crúland Cruland Fens (Girwan Fænne)
11 * Alchmund of Derby Ealhmund Ælhmundus Derby St Alkmund's Church, Derby (site of) Norðworþig Norðwerðig On the river Derwent (Deorwentan)
12 * Saint Botulph Botulf Botulphus Peterborough[g] Medeshamstede Medeshamstede On the river Nene (Nén)
13 * Æthelberht II of East Anglia Æþelbriht Æðbertus Hereford Hereford Cathedral Hereforda Hereford On the river Wye (Weæge)
14 * Saint Cett Ceat Oundle Oundle Monastery Undola Undola On the river Nene (Nén)
15 * Mildburh Mildburh Mildburga Much Wenlock Wenlock Priory Wenlocan Winlocan River Severn (Sæfern)
16 * Wigstan (Wistan) Wigstan Wigstanus Repton Repton Priory Hreopedune Reopedune River Trent (Treonte)
17 * Diuma Dioma Dionia Charlbury Church of St Mary the virgin Ceorlingcburh Ceorlingburh River Windrush (Wenrisc)
18 * Edith of Polesworth Eadgið Eadgyð Polesworth, Warwickshire Polesworth Abbey Polleswyrð Polleswyrð River Anker (Oncer)
19 * Rumwold of Buckingham Rumwold Rumwoldus Buckingham Old Parish Church, Buckingham Buccingaham Buckingaham River Ouse (Usan)
19a * Æþelbyrht Æþelbertus Bedford unknown Bydanford Bedanford River Ouse (Usan)
20 * Æþelred Æðelredus Leominster Leominster Abbey Leomynstre Leomenstre River Lugg (Lucge)
21 * Edmund the Martyr Ædmund Ædmundus Bury St Edmunds Bury St Edmunds Abbey Beadriceswyrðe Beadricesweorðe in East Anglia (Eastenglum)
22 * Osgyth Osgið Osgyð St Osyth (Chich), Essex St Osyth's Priory Cicc Cice Near the sea, in St Peter's Monastery
23 * Æthelburh of Barking Æþelburh Æðelburga Barking Barking Abbey Beorcyngan Bercinge River Thames (Tæmese)
23b * Earconwald Erconwald Erconwaldus London Old St Paul's Cathedral Lundenbirig civitate Lundonia
24 * Neot Neót Neot St Neots St Neots Priory Eanulfesbirig Eanulfesberig ('Old friend of Alfred the Great'.[14])
25 * Ivo of Ramsey
* Æthelred and
* Æthelberht
Ivo, sanctique fratres Æðelredus & Æðelbertus Ramsey, Cambridgeshire Ramsey Abbey Ramesige Ramesige in the monastery called Barnesige
26 * Florentius of Peterborough
* Kyneswide,
* Kyneburga
Peterborough Peterborough Abbey Burh Burh And many others in the Monastery.[h]
27 * Botwulf of Thorney,
* Adulf,
* Huna of Thorney,
* Tancred,
* Torthred
* Herefrith of Thorney,
* Cissa of Crowland,
* Benedict Biscop,
* Tova
Peterborough Thorney Abbey þornige þornege
28 * Saint Vincentius Uincentius Abingdon Abingdon Abbey Abbandune Uincentius martir - Not listed in the Latin V version.
29 * Dunstan &
* Augustine of Canterbury
Canterbury St Augustine's Abbey[i] Cantwabyrig Cantuarberig Also in the city is Christ Church (Cathedral) where other saints are buried.
30 * Paulinus of York Paulinus Paulinus Rochester, Kent Rochester Cathedral Rofeceatre Roueceastre
31 * Birinus,
* Hædde,
* Swithun,
* (Æthelwold of Winchester),
* (Ælfheah the Bald),
* (Beornstan of Winchester),
* (Frithestan),
* Justus of Beauvais.
Iustus martyr
Winchester Old Minster, Winchester Winceastre on Ealdan Mynstre Aeldermynster apud civitatem Wintonian [j]
Old and New Minsters dedicated to St Swithun.
32 * Judoc,
* Grimbald
Winchester Winchester Cathedral Niwan mynstre Niwemenster The new minster at Winchester (begun 1079)
33 * Eadburh of Winchester Eadburh Ædburh Winchester St Mary's Abbey nunnan minstre Nunneminster 'in the same city'
34 * Mærwynn,
* (Balthild),
* ()
Merwinna Romsey Romsey Abbey Rumesige Rumesige Latin V adds, 'near the River Test'.
35 * Iwig,
* Edith of Wilton
Wilton Wilton Abbey Wiltune Wiltune
36 * Edward the Martyr,
* Ælfgifu of Shaftesbury
Eadweard cyningc,
Ædwardus rex,
Shaftesbury Shaftesbury Abbey Sceaftesbirig Sceaftesbyrig
37 * Aidan of Lindisfarne,
* Saint Patrick
Glastonbury Glastonbury Abbey Glæstingabirig Glæstingabyrig
37b * Congar of Congresbury Congarus Congarus Congresbury, Somerset Cungresbirig Cungresbyrig 'Congarus confessor'
38 * Sativola (Sidwell) Sidefulla Sydefulla Exeter St Sidwell's Chapel(?) Exanceastre Exanceastre
39 * Rumon of Tavistock Rumonus Romanus Tavistock Tavistock Abbey Tæuistoce Tæfistoce
40 * Saint Petroc Petrocus Petrocus Padstow (Pedrocstowe) Lanwethinoc Monastery Westwealum Westwealum At an Arm of the sea called Eglemouth (Hægelmuða)
41 * Máel Dub,
* Aldhelm,
* Johannes Scotus Eriugena[m]
Iohann se wisa

Iohannus sapiens
Malmesbury Malmesbury Abbey Ealdelmesbirig Aldelmesberig
42 * Oswald of Worcester Oswaldus Worcester Worcester Priory Wigeraceastre And many other holy bishops with him. [nb Only the CCCC OE includes this entry. Stowe and Latin V omit it]
43 * Egwin of Evesham Egwinus, bisceop on Eoveshamme Ecgwinus Evesham Evesham Abbey Eoveshamme Efesham On the River Afon (Aféne)
44 * Saint Kenelm Kenelm Kynelmus Winchcombe Winchcombe Abbey Winclescumbe Winclescumbe
45 * Cuthburh Cuðburh Cuðburh Wimborne Wimborne Minster Winburnem Mynstre Winburnem Menster
46 * Frithuswith Fryðesweoð Fryðeswiða Oxford Priory of St Frideswide Oxenaforda Oxnaforda
47 * Branwalator Brangwalatoris Branwalator Milton Abbas Milton Abbey Middeltune Mideltune CCCC says his head only. Also an arm of 'Samsones'.
48 * Cuthmann of Steyning Cuðmann Cuthmannus Steyning, Sussex Church of St Andrew and St Cuthman Stæningum Stæninge Near the river Bramber (Bræmbre/Bremre)
49 * ,
* Edor
Chertsey Chertsey Abbey Cyrtesige Ceortesige And 90 men slain by pagans
50 Si lof and wuldor haelendum Criste his godnessa in eara worulda world on écnysse, amen!
(Praise and honour to the Saviour Christ, his goodness in all the world is forever, amen.)[n]
Final benediction only in CCCC, not in Stowe or Latin V.
51 * Melor Melorius Melorius Amesbury Amesbury Abbey Ambresbyrig Ambresbyrig (In Stowe and Latin V only - This is the only place not present in CCCC)

Notes on the list

  1. ^ Liebermann, 1889, numbers the paragraphs of the Secgan, starting with the title as number 1. Some paragraphs have several locations, denoted #b etc. Several of the locations have more than one saint buried at them. Each different saint has an asterisk bullet point at the start.
  2. ^ Body and sword arm at Bamburgh, Head with St Cuthbert, left arm at Gloucester
  3. ^ OE: þonne resteð Sancte Oswald cyningc on Bebbanbyrig wið þa sǣ, and his heafod resteð mid sancte Cuðberhte, and his swyrða earma is nú on Bebbanbyrig and his lichama resteð nu on niwan mynstre on Gleaweceastre.
  4. ^ OE: Sancta Ecgbriht, sancte Wilferð, biscop, sancte Wihtburh. Latin: Sanctusque Ecgbertus, sanctus Wilfridus, episcopus, sanctaque Eihtbuerga
  5. ^ OE: Sancte Ceadda, sancte Cedde, sancte Ceatta. Latin: Sanctusque Ceadda, sanctus Cedde, sanctus Ceatta
  6. ^ Sancte Æþered, se cyningc, Sancte Ostryð, sancte Oswoldes. Latin: sanctus Æðælredus rex
  7. ^ Botolph occurs twice in this list, the other under his well attested location as Botwulf of Thorney. Medeshamstede is a well attested earlier name for Peterborough - which also has entries under its later name of 'Burh'. Thorney is close to, but not the same place as Burh. It is not clear if this entry refers to the same saint using an earlier location name, the same saint divided between two locations, or two different individuals.
  8. ^ OE adds something to the effect that 'Though they are hidden from the people, not all the holy people have works of wonder'(?)
  9. ^ Monastery of the Apostles Peter and Paul
  10. ^ Those in brackets are only listed by the CCCC text. Stowe MS 944 and the Latin V simply allude to 'many others with them'.
  11. ^ CCCC OE includes the two in brackets, and mentions 'and fela oðra helgan' - many other saints.
  12. ^ From here on, the order of the two OE texts diverges. This list follows the CCCC Old English order, as set out by Heilemann, 1889, re-ordering the matching entries from the other texts accordingly.
  13. ^ William of Malmsbury claimed that this referred to Iohannes Erigena; but this is now thought to have been an error by William, and that another saint named John the Wise was being referred to.
  14. ^ Translation needs checking

See also


  1. ^ Rollason 1978, p. 68.
  2. ^ British Library Digitised Manuscript: Stowe MS 944 has the full manuscript pages online.
  3. ^ British Library Catalogue of IlluminatedManuscripts: Detailed record for Stowe MS 944, accessed 6 November 2014
  4. ^ A Descriptive Catalogue of the Manuscripts in the Library of Corpus Christi College, M R James, 1912, Cambridge University Press, vol 1, Nos 1-250. Ms 201 is itemised on pp.485-491. Accessed 7 November 2014
  5. ^ Liebermann 1889, p. XVII.
  6. ^ Rawlinson 1978, p. 61.
  7. ^ The version of Cotton Caligula A. xiv was translated into modern English by Oswald Cockayne, Leechdoms, Wortcunning and Starcraft of Early England, 3 vols, The Rolls Series, 35 (London: Longmans, Green, Reader and Dyer, 1864–68), iii pp. 422–29.
  8. ^ a b Rollason 1982, p. 83-84.
  9. ^ Rollason 1978, p. 73-74.
  10. ^ Farmer 1992.
  11. ^ Rollason 1978, p. 61-6.
  12. ^ Liebermann 1889, p. XVI, Latin V manuscript: Cotton Vitellius A 2, f.3–5
  13. ^ Liebermann 1889, p. 10.
  14. ^ Liebermann 1889, p. 14, note 18


  • G. Hickes, Dissertatio Epistolaris in Linguarum veterum septentrionalium thesaurus grammatico-criticus et archeologicus (Oxford 1703-05), p. 115
  • Liebermann, Felix (1889). Die Heiligen Englands: Angelsächsisch und Lateinisch (in German). Hanover. Retrieved 28 October 2014. (Contains the full text of both Þá hálgan and Secgan in Old English and Latin. Available in various digital formats via archive.org)
  • Susan J. Ridyard, The Royal Saints of Anglo-Saxon England: A Study of West Saxon and East Anglican Cults, Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought: Fourth Series, 1988.
  • Rollason, D. W. (1978). "Lists of saints' resting-places in Anglo-Saxon England". Anglo-Saxon England. 7: 61–93. doi:10.1017/S0263675100002866..
  • David Hugh Farmer, The Oxford Dictionary of Saints, Oxford Paperback Reference, Publisher Oxford University Press, 1992, 2004.

External links