Friday, May 23, 2008

Kings & Saints In A Coastal Fortress - Tynemouth Priory & Castle

As you read the notice board by the railings that surround Tynemouth Priory & Castle, one line leaps out and grabs the attention:

"Burial place for kings and saints"

Quite a statement! How many places in a lifetime does anyone get to visit such a place? Normally one would associate places such as Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's Cathedral in London with such a claim. So to find a medieval priory/castle on the Northumberland coast not far from the city of Newcastle with event a hint of a similar 'provenance' was a wonderful discovery.

Set high up on a headland overlooking the North Sea, the ruins were once home to both a military fortress (playing a role against Napoleon and in both World Wars) as well as a religious site - and for many, many centuries; as a religious site, its history goes back as far as the 7th century.

So who is buried here? The answer ... 3 sainted kings. I must admit to never having heard of any of them before visiting Tynemouth but having read more, I can begin to appreciate why there were 'sainted'. Their names were Oswin, Osred and Malcolm.

Oswin (died AD 651) King of Northumbria
Osred (died AD 792) King of Northumbria
Malcolm (died AD 1093) King of Scotland

There is also a legend that another Northumbrian king, Ceolwolf, had caves carved out of the great rock on which the Priory stands and that he spent his last days there. The caves have become known locally as Jingling Geordie's Hotel.

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