It’s July 1, 2018, the final day of an archaeological excavation in the village of Coldingham on Scotland’s North Sea coast, just seven miles north of the English border. The diggers have been searching for a site that’s eluded researchers for years: the monastery of Aebbe, a 7th-century Anglo-Saxon princess. But will their hard work pay off?
Arrive in Coldingham today and you’ll find a pretty little Scottish hamlet set back about a mile from a beautiful sandy beach that attracts holidaymakers and surfers. But this area of southern Scotland and the English county of Northumberland just over the border have a rich history. Perhaps most notably, it includes an important episode in the story of Christianity in Britain. And that’s something the Princess Aebbe played a vital part in.
We’ll get back to Aebbe’s role in promoting Christianity and the archaeologists’ hunt for her monastery in Coldingham. But first, let’s find out what we can about this Anglo-Saxon princess’ life. Firstly, some potential confusion should be cleared up. That arises from the fact that there were two Anglo-Saxon Aebbes of Coldingham.