Cynethryth

8 Sep 2021

The big news of the month is the discovery of earthquake damage at Jerusalem which has been provisionally dated to the 8th century BC, mainly because Amos records a raash [in the reign of Uzziah] that rent the Temple and city. See https://phys.org/news/2021-08-evidence-ancient-earthquake-jerusalem.html ... and various other media links such as the Jerusalem Post. We are promised further details later in the month.

 

Elsewhere, we have some archaeology concerning Cynethryth. She was the wife, and later, widow of King Offa, king of Mercia, and a contemporary of Charlemagne in France. Offa modeled some of his activities, especially when it involved the Church, to Charlemagne. This close connection came about when Offa gained control of the Kingdom of Kent, which had close links to France, and later, Sussex. Offa was a nominally Christian king - yet came into conflict with Canterbury [and its archbishop]. In spite of that Offa carried on meddling in church affairs - at St Albans for example [subsumed into the Mercian kingdom], and his wife became abbess of a monastery situated on the border with Wessex, at Cookham in Berkshire. There is no evidence of hostilities between the two kingdoms and the monastery was already well established, it is thought. In fact, the River Thames was the border between Mercia and Wessex and a Roman road crossed the river at some point in Cookham, that was still in use in the time of King Alfred and the Viking invasions. Alfred established a fort to control the crossing point at Sashes Island. As the river approaches the chalk escarpment above Cookham it becomes shallow and was diverted into a number of streams between Cookham and Maidenhead. Some of these still exist but have mostly been drained. However, prolonged rainfall can bring them back to life. It is not certain the crossing point was near where the modern lock exists, below Cliveden, but a river portage continued to exist on the island into the medieval period. Cookham was an area of importance, therefore, for a long time, now languishing as an upmarket dormitory of London. At https://phys.org/news/2021-08-archaeologists-lost-monastery-queen-mercia... ... we learn that the lost monastery of a queen of Mercia, CXynethryth, has been found after excavations in the churchyard of Holy Trinity Church in Cookham. The Normans built in stone and the Anglo Saxons mainly in wood [with some flint, possibly sourced from an ex Roman building]. This whole region is now being opened up as a major A/S area of settlement - and no doubt other discoveries will occur in the future.

At https://phys.org/news/2021-08-genetic-histories-social-organisation-neol... ... we have a spot of genetic research conducted via archaeological discoveries in Croatia - at two sites. The first one goes deep into the Neolithic period, dates are gived as 4700-4300BC. It belongs to the so called Sopot culture, which is presumably intrusive. Genetic analysis of skeletal material shows a high degree of haplotype diversity. People seem to have mated outside their kin group. The other site is denoted as Middle Bronze Age, 1800-1600BC. Here, individuals were found to have significantly more western European hunter-gatherer related ancestry, a somewhat surprising finding. Biological kinship was a major factor at this site, as opposed to the earlier Neolithic site.

At www.heritagedaily.com/2021/08/archaeologists-unearth-alignment-of-menhir... ... an alignment of menhirs has been found at what is now Saint Leonard in Switzerland. The date has yet to be worked out.