“Random encounters with the unusual” is a repository for the oddities that me and Mrs J have encountered on our travels, which we find interesting or amusing in some way. Have a look, maybe you will find something interesting or amusing herein.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

St Cuthbert's Cross

In “The Legend of the Durham Dun Cow” I recounted the tale of how the city of Durham was supposedly founded in 995 AD by a band of wandering monks with some help from a long-dead saint and a lost cow. The saint in question was St Cuthbert, who spent his life as a monk on the island of Lindisfarne. Cuthbert died in 687 AD and 11 years after his death, his corpse was found to be miraculously preserved. His tomb soon became a place of pilgrimage and was linked to a number of further miracles which eventually led to Cuthbert’s canonisation.

The monks of Lindisfarne left the island in 875 AD taking Cuthbert’s remains with them, having been driven out by over 80 years of ongoing Viking raids. The monks, along with Cuthbert’s remains, wandered the north of the country (predominantly Northumbria and Scotland, but also going as far south as Ripon) stopping at a number of temporary homes until 995 AD when they finally settled in what is modern day Durham.

It is because of these wanderings that a number of locations in the north of the country have become linked with the remains of St Cuthbert, and there are a number of churches in the region dedicated to the saint.

Having read about the legend of St Cuthbert and the wanderings of his remains, from their original home on the east coast of England, I was recently surprised to find a memorial to St Cuthbert on the west coast in the Lancashire seaside town of Lytham. On Church Road in front of the playing field there is a stone cross by the side of the road which bears a metal plaque. The plaque reads "According to ancient tradition the body of St Cuthbert about the year 882 once rested here."

Whether St Cuthbert’s remains actually did travel from Lindisfarne to Lytham is unclear, as all of the popular re-tellings of this tale that I have read do not seem to include a visit to the west coast. But the locals of Lytham clearly seem to believe this legend and unsurprisingly the nearby church is also dedicated to St Cuthbert!

St Cuthbert's cross in Lytham; did St Cuthbert's body once stop here in 882 AD on its journey from Lindisfarne to Durham?

Pictures: Lancashire (November 2015).

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