Lothian is a region of the Scottish Lowlands, lying between the southern shore of the Firth of Forth and the Lammermuir Hills. The principal settlement is the Scottish capital, while other significant towns include Livingston, Bathgate, Dalkeith, Prestonpans, North Berwick and Haddington; the term Lothian referred to a province encompassing most of what is now southeastern Scotland. In the 7th century it came under the control of the Anglian kingdom of Bernicia, the northern part of the kingdom of Northumbria, but the Angles' grip on Lothian was weakened following the Battle of Nechtansmere in which they were defeated by the Picts. Lothian was annexed to the Kingdom of Scotland around the 10th century. Subsequent Scottish history saw the region subdivided into three shires—Mid and West Lothian—leading to the popular designation of "the Lothians"; the origin of the name is debated. It comes from the British *Lugudūniānā meaning "country of the fort of Lugus", the latter being a Celtic god of commerce.
Alternatively it may take its name from a watercourse which flows through the region, now known as the Lothian Burn, the name of which comes from either the British lutna meaning "dark or muddy stream", *lǭd, with a meaning associated with flooding, or lǖch, meaning "bright, shining". A popular legend is that the name comes from King Lot, king of Lothian in the Arthurian legend; the usual Latin form of the name is Laudonia. Lothian was settled by Angles at an early stage and formed part of the Kingdom of Bernicia, which extended south into present-day Northumberland. Many place names in the Lothians and Scottish Borders demonstrate that the English language became established in the region from the sixth century onwards. In due course Bernicia united with Deira to form the Kingdom of Northumbria. Important Anglo Saxon structural remains have been found in Aberlady along with various artefacts such as an early 9th century Anglo Saxon coin. Little is recorded of Lothian's history in this time. After the Norse settled in what is now Yorkshire, Northumbria was cut in two.
How much Norse influence spread to the English north of the River Tees is uncertain. Bernicia continued as a distinct territory, sometimes described as having a king, at other times an ealdorman. Bernicia became distinct from other English territories at this time due to its links with the other Christian kingdoms in what is present-day Scotland and seems to have little to do with the Norse-controlled areas to the south. Roger of Wendover wrote that Edgar, King of the English granted Laudian to the King of Scots in 973 on condition that he come to court whenever the English king or his successors wore his crown, it is accepted by medieval historians that this marks the point at which Lothian came under Scottish control. The River Tweed became the de facto Anglo-Scottish border following the Battle of Carham in 1018. William the Conqueror did not re-annex it. At this time Lothian appears in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as Loþen; as late as 1091, the Chronicle describes how the Scottish king, Malcolm, "went with his army out of Scotland into Lothian", in the reign of King David, the people living in Lothian are described as "English" subjects of the king.
In the post-Roman period, Lothian was dominated by British-speakers whose language is called Cumbric and was related to Welsh. In Welsh tradition Lothian is part of the "Old North". Reminders exist in British place-names like Tranent and Penicuik. Although one of the few areas of mainland Scotland where the Gaelic language was never dominant, the presence of some Gaelic place-names, e.g. Dalry, Currie and Cockenzie, has been attributed to the "temporary occupation... the presence of a landowning Gaelic-speaking aristocracy and their followers for something like 150–200 years."Over time and due to various factors, the language of Lothian and Northumbria, a northern variety of Middle English, came to displace Gaelic as the language of the Lowlands. The dialects of the modern Lothians are sometimes considered to be part of Central Scots; the Local Government Act 1973 abolished the county councils and burgh corporations, replacing them with regions and districts. Lothian Regional Council formally took over responsibility from the old county councils in May 1975.
The Lothian region was split into four districts: East and West Lothian, the City of Edinburgh. The former had more or less identical boundaries to the county council it replaced, but West and Mid Lothian had large amounts of land taken from them to form the City of Edinburgh district; the council was responsible for education, social work, water and transport. The two-tier system was ended by the Local Government etc. Act 1994. Lothian Regional Council was replaced by four unitary councils based on the former districts. Herman Moll's map of the Lothian shires Lothian Buses NHS Lothian
Mercia was one of the kingdoms of the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy. The name is a Latinisation of the Old English Mierce or Myrce, meaning "border people". Mercia dominated what would become England for three centuries, subsequently going into a gradual decline while Wessex conquered and united all the kingdoms into Kingdom of England; the kingdom was centred on the valley of the River Trent and its tributaries, in the region now known as the English Midlands. The kingdom did not have a single capital as such. In times before a sizable civil service the'capital' was wherever the king was at any given time. Early in its existence Repton seems to have been the location of an important royal estate. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, it was from Repton in 873-4 that the Great Heathen Army deposed the King of Mercia. Earlier, King Offa seems to have favoured Tamworth, it was there where he was spent many a Christmas. For 300 years, having annexed or gained submissions from five of the other six kingdoms of the Heptarchy, Mercia dominated England south of the River Humber: this period is known as the Mercian Supremacy.
The reign of King Offa, best remembered for his Dyke that designated the boundary between Mercia and the Welsh kingdoms, is sometimes known as the "Golden Age of Mercia". Nicholas Brooks noted that "the Mercians stand out as by far the most successful of the various early Anglo-Saxon peoples until the ninth century", some historians, such as Sir Frank Stenton, believe the unification of England south of the Humber estuary was achieved during the reign of Offa. Mercia was a pagan kingdom; the Diocese of Mercia was founded in 656, with the first bishop, based at Repton. After 13 years at Repton, in 669 the fifth bishop, Saint Chad, moved the bishopric to Lichfield, where it has been based since. In 691, the Diocese of Mercia became the Diocese of Lichfield. For a brief period between 787 and 799 the diocese was an archbishopric, although it was dissolved in 803; the current bishop, Michael Ipgrave, is the 99th. At the end of the 9th century, following the invasions of the Vikings and their Great Heathen Army, much of the former Mercian territory was absorbed into the Danelaw.
At its height, the Danelaw included all of East Anglia and most of the North of England. The final Mercian king, Ceolwulf II, died in 879, it was ruled by a lord or ealdorman under the overlordship of Alfred the Great, who styled himself "King of the Anglo-Saxons". The kingdom had a brief period of independence in the mid-10th century, again briefly in 1016. Mercia is still used as a geographic designation, the name is used by a wide range of organisations, including military units, public and voluntary bodies. Mercia's exact evolution at the start of the Anglo-Saxon era remains more obscure than that of Northumbria, Kent, or Wessex. Mercia developed an effective political structure and adopted Christianity than the other kingdoms. Archaeological surveys show that Angles settled the lands north of the River Thames by the 6th century; the name "Mercia" is Old English for "boundary folk", the traditional interpretation is that the kingdom originated along the frontier between the native Welsh and the Anglo-Saxon invaders.
However, P. Hunter Blair argued an alternative interpretation: that they emerged along the frontier between Northumbria and the inhabitants of the Trent river valley. While its earliest boundaries will never be known, there is general agreement that the territory, called "the first of the Mercians" in the Tribal Hidage covered much of south Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire and northern Warwickshire; the earliest person named in any records as a king of Mercia is Creoda, said to have been the great-grandson of Icel. Coming to power around 584, he built a fortress at Tamworth, his son Pybba succeeded him in 593. Cearl, a kinsman of Creoda, followed Pybba in 606; the Mercian kings were the only Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy ruling house known to claim a direct family link with a pre-migration Continental Germanic monarchy. The next Mercian king, ruled from about 626 or 633 until 655; some of what is known about Penda comes from the hostile account of Bede, who disliked him – both as an enemy to Bede's own Northumbria and as a pagan.
However, Bede admits that Penda allowed Christian missionaries from Lindisfarne into Mercia, did not restrain them from preaching. In 633 Penda and his ally Cadwallon of Gwynedd defeated and killed Edwin, who had become not only ruler of the newly unified Northumbria, but bretwalda, or high king, over the southern kingdoms; when another Northumbrian king, Oswald and again claimed overlordship of the south, he suffered defeat and death at the hands of Penda and his allies – in 642 at the Battle of Maserfield. In 655, after a period of confusion in Northumbria, Penda brought 30 sub-kings to fight the new Northumbrian king Oswiu at the Battle of Winwaed, in which Penda in turn lost the battle and his life; the battle led to a temporary collapse of Mercian power. Penda's son Peada, who had converted to Christianity a
Penda of Mercia
Penda was a 7th-century King of Mercia, the Anglo-Saxon kingdom in what is today the English Midlands. A pagan at a time when Christianity was taking hold in many of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, Penda took over the Severn Valley in 628 following the Battle of Cirencester before participating in the defeat of the powerful Northumbrian king Edwin at the Battle of Hatfield Chase in 633. Nine years he defeated and killed Edwin's eventual successor, Oswald, at the Battle of Maserfield, he defeated the East Angles and drove Cenwalh the king of Wessex into exile for three years. He continued to wage war against the Bernicians of Northumbria. Thirteen years after Maserfield, he suffered a crushing defeat by Oswald's successor and brother Oswiu, was killed at the Battle of the Winwaed in the course of a final campaign against the Bernicians; the etymology of the name Penda is unknown. Penda of Mercia is the only monarch with this name, but a number of Mercian commoners with the same name are on record. Suggestions for etymologies of the name are divided between a Celtic and a Germanic origin.
The names of members of a Northumbrian brotherhood are recorded in the ninth century Liber vitae Dunelmensis, the name Penda occurs in this list and is categorised as a British name. John T. Koch noted that, "Penda and a number of other royal names from early Anglian Mercia have more obvious Brythonic than German explanations, though they do not correspond to known Welsh names." These royal names include those of Penda's father Pybba, of his son Peada. It has been suggested that the firm alliance between Penda and various British princes might be the result of a "racial cause."Continental Germanic comparanda for the name include a feminine Penta and a toponym Penti-lingen, suggesting an underlying personal name Pendi. Penda was a son of Pybba of Mercia and said to be an Icling, with a lineage purportedly extending back to Wōden; the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle gives his descent as follows: Penda was Pybba's offspring, Pybba was Cryda's offspring, Cryda Cynewald's offspring, Cynewald Cnebba's offspring, Cnebba Icel's offspring, Icel Eomer's offspring, Eomer Angeltheow's offspring, Angeltheow Offa's offspring, Offa Wermund's offspring, Wermund Wihtlæg's offspring, Wihtlæg Woden's offspring.
The Historia Brittonum says that Pybba had 12 sons, including Penda, but that Penda and Eowa of Mercia were those best known to its author. Besides Eowa, the pedigrees give Penda a brother named Coenwalh from whom two kings were said to descend, although this may instead represent his brother-in-law Cenwalh of Wessex; the time at which Penda became king is uncertain. Another Mercian king, Cearl, is mentioned by Bede as ruling at the same time as the Northumbrian king Æthelfrith, in the early part of the 7th century. Whether Penda succeeded Cearl is unknown, it is unclear whether they were related, if so how closely, it is possible that Cearl and Penda were dynastic rivals. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Penda became king in 626, ruled for 30 years, was 50 years old at the time of his accession; that he ruled for 30 years should not be taken as an exact figure, since the same source says he died in 655, which would not correspond to the year given for the beginning of his reign unless he died in the thirtieth year of his reign.
Furthermore, that Penda was 50 years old at the beginning of his reign is doubted by historians because of the ages of his children. The idea that Penda, at about 80 years of age, would have left behind children who were still young has been considered implausible; the possibility has been suggested that the Chronicle meant to say that Penda was 50 years old at the time of his death, therefore about 20 in 626. Bede, in his Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, says of Penda that he was "a most warlike man of the royal race of the Mercians" and that, following Edwin of Northumbria's defeat in 633, he ruled the Mercians for 22 years with varying fortune; the noted 20th-century historian Frank Stenton was of the opinion that the language used by Bede "leaves no doubt that... Penda, though descended from the royal family of the Mercians, only became their king after Edwin's defeat"; the Historia Brittonum accords Penda a reign of only ten years dating it from the time of the Battle of Maserfield around 642, although according to the accepted chronology this would still be more than ten years.
Given the apparent problems with the dates given by the Chronicle and the Historia, Bede's account of the length of Penda's reign is considered the most plausible by historians. Nicholas Brooks noted that, since these three accounts of the length of Penda's reign come from three different sources, none of them are Mercian, they may reflect the times at which their respective peoples first had military involvement with Penda; the question of whether or not Penda was king during the late 620s assumes greater significance in light of the Chronicle's record of a battle between Penda and the West Saxons under their kings Cynegils and Cwichelm taking place at Cirencester in 628. If he was not yet king his involvement in this conflict might in
Alhred of Northumbria
Alhred or Alchred was king of Northumbria from 765 to 774. He had married Osgifu, either the daughter of Oswulf, granddaughter of Eadberht Eating, or Eadberht's daughter, was thus related by marriage to Ecgbert, Archbishop of York. A genealogy survives. Æthelwald Moll was deposed in 765 and Alhred became king. Little is said of his reign in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle other than the bare facts that he became king, was deposed and exiled in 774. Symeon of Durham's Historia Regum Anglorum reports that he fled to the kingdom of the Picts, where he was received by King Ciniod. Frank Stenton notes Ahlred's connection to the English missions on the continent; the mission of Saint Willehad, which led to the founding of the Archbishopric of Bremen, was authorised by a religious assembly called by Alhred. A letter from Alhred to Saint Lull, Archbishop of Mainz, a native of Wessex survives. Alhred was succeeded by son of Æthelwald Moll. Alhred's son Osred would be king. A second son, Alhmund would be killed in the reign of Eardwulf and develop a cult as Alcmund of Derby.
Anderson, Alan Orr, Scottish Annals from English Chroniclers A. D. 500 to 1286. David Nutt, London, 1908. Higham, N. J; the Kingdom of Northumbria AD 350-1100. Stroud: Sutton, 1993. ISBN 0-86299-730-5 Kirby, D. P; the Earliest English Kings. London: Unwin, 1991. ISBN 0-04-445692-1 Marsden, J. Northanhymbre Saga: The History of the Anglo-Saxon Kings of Northumbria. London: Cathie, 1992. ISBN 1-85626-055-0 Stenton, Sir Frank M. Anglo-Saxon England. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1971 ISBN 0-19-280139-2 Yorke, Barbara and Kingdoms of early Anglo-Saxon England. London: Seaby, 1990. ISBN 1-85264-027-8 List of monarchs of Northumbria Alhred 1 at Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England
The Angles were one of the main Germanic peoples who settled in Great Britain in the post-Roman period. They founded several of the kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England, their name is the root of the name England; the name comes from Anglia, a peninsula located on the Baltic shore of what is now Schleswig-Holstein. The name of the Angles may have been first recorded in Latinised form, as Anglii, in the Germania of Tacitus, it is thought to derive from the name of the area they inhabited, the Anglia Peninsula. This name has been hypothesised to originate from the Germanic root for "narrow", meaning "the Narrow ", i.e. the Schlei estuary. Another theory is. During the fifth century, all Germanic tribes who invaded Britain were referred to as Englisc, who were speakers of Old English. Englisc and its descendant, English goes back to Proto-Indo-European *h₂enǵʰ-, meaning narrow. In any case, the Angles may have been called such because they were a fishing people or were descended from such, so England would mean "land of the fishermen", English would be "the fishermen's language".
Gregory the Great, in an epistle, simplified the Latinised name Anglii to Angli, the latter form developing into the preferred form of the word. The country remained Anglia in Latin. Alfred the Great's translation of Orosius's history of the world uses Angelcynn to describe the English people; the earliest recorded mention of the Angles may be in chapter 40 of Tacitus's Germania written around AD 98. Tacitus describes the "Anglii" as one of the more remote Suebic tribes compared to the Semnones and Langobardi, who lived on the Elbe and were better known to the Romans, he grouped the Angles with several other tribes in that region, the Reudigni, Varini, Eudoses and Nuitones. These were all living behind ramparts of rivers and woods, therefore inaccessible to attack, he gives no precise indication of their geographical situation, but states that, together with the six other tribes, they worshiped Nerthus, or Mother Earth, whose sanctuary was located on "an island in the Ocean". The Eudoses are the Jutes.
The coast contains sufficient estuaries, rivers, islands and marshes to have been inaccessible to those not familiar with the terrain, such as the Romans, who considered it unknown, with a small population and of little economic interest. The majority of scholars believe that the Anglii lived on the coasts of the Baltic Sea in the southern part of the Jutish peninsula; this view is based on Old English and Danish traditions regarding persons and events of the fourth century, because striking affinities to the cult of Nerthus as described by Tacitus are to be found in pre-Christian Scandinavian religion. Ptolemy, writing in around 150 AD, in his atlas Geography, describes the Sueboi Angeilloi, Latinised to Suevi Angili, further south, living in a stretch of land between the northern Rhine and central Elbe, but not touching either river, with the Suebic Langobardi on the Rhine to their west, the Suebic Semnones on the Elbe stretching to their east; these Suevi Angili would have been in Lower Saxony or near it.
The three Suebic peoples are separated from the coastal Chauci, Saxones, by a series of tribes including, between the Weser and Elbe, the Angrivarii, "Laccobardi", the Dulgubnii. South of the Saxons, east of the Elbe, Ptolemy lists the "Ouirounoi" and Teutonoari, which either denotes "the Teuton men", or else it denotes people living in the area where the Teutons had lived. Ptolemy describes the coast to the east of the Saxons as inhabited by the Farodini, a name not known from any other sources. Owing to the uncertainty of this passage, much speculation existed regarding the original home of the Anglii. One theory is that they or part of them dwelt or moved among other coastal people confederated up to the basin of the Saale on the Unstrut valleys below the Kyffhäuserkreis, from which region the Lex Anglorum et Werinorum hoc est Thuringorum is believed by many to have come; the ethnic names of Frisians and Warines are attested in these Saxon districts. A second possible solution is. According to Julius Pokorny, the Angri- in Angrivarii, the -angr in Hardanger and the Angl- in Anglii all come from the same root meaning "bend", but in different senses.
In other words, the similarity of the names is coincidental and does not reflect any ethnic unity beyond Germanic. However, Gudmund Schütte, in his analysis of Ptolemy, believes that the Angles have been moved by an error coming from Ptolemy's use of imperfect sources, he points out that Angles are placed just to the northeast of the Langobardi, but that these have been duplicated, so that they appear once on the lower Elbe, a second time, inco
Bede known as Saint Bede, Venerable Bede, Bede the Venerable, was an English Benedictine monk at the monastery of St. Peter and its companion monastery of St. Paul in the Kingdom of Northumbria of the Angles. Born on lands belonging to the Monkwearmouth monastery in present-day Sunderland, Bede was sent there at the age of seven and joined Abbot Ceolfrith at the Jarrow monastery, both of whom survived a plague that struck in 686, an outbreak that killed a majority of the population there. While he spent most of his life in the monastery, Bede travelled to several abbeys and monasteries across the British Isles visiting the archbishop of York and King Ceolwulf of Northumbria, he is well known as an author and scholar, his most famous work, Ecclesiastical History of the English People, gained him the title "The Father of English History". His ecumenical writings were extensive and included a number of Biblical commentaries and other theological works of exegetical erudition. Another important area of study for Bede was the academic discipline of computus, otherwise known to his contemporaries as the science of calculating calendar dates.
One of the more important dates Bede tried to compute was Easter, an effort, mired with controversy. He helped establish the practice of dating forward from the birth of Christ, a practice which became commonplace in medieval Europe. Bede was one of the greatest teachers and writers of the Early Middle Ages and is considered by many historians to be the single most important scholar of antiquity for the period between the death of Pope Gregory I in 604 and the coronation of Charlemagne in 800. In 1899, Pope Leo XIII declared him a Doctor of the Church, he is the only native of Great Britain to achieve this designation. Bede was moreover a skilled linguist and translator, his work made the Latin and Greek writings of the early Church Fathers much more accessible to his fellow Anglo-Saxons, which contributed to English Christianity. Bede's monastery had access to an impressive library which included works by Eusebius and many others. Everything, known of Bede's life is contained in the last chapter of his Ecclesiastical History of the English People, a history of the church in England.
It was completed in about 731, Bede implies that he was in his fifty-ninth year, which would give a birth date in 672 or 673. A minor source of information is the letter by his disciple Cuthbert. Bede, in the Historia, gives his birthplace as "on the lands of this monastery", he is referring to the twinned monasteries of Monkwearmouth and Jarrow, in modern-day Wearside and Tyneside respectively. Bede says nothing of his origins, but his connections with men of noble ancestry suggest that his own family was well-to-do. Bede's first abbot was Benedict Biscop, the names "Biscop" and "Beda" both appear in a king list of the kings of Lindsey from around 800, further suggesting that Bede came from a noble family. Bede's name reflects West Saxon Bīeda, it is an Anglo-Saxon short name formed on the root of bēodan "to bid, command". The name occurs in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, s.a. 501, as Bieda, one of the sons of the Saxon founder of Portsmouth. The Liber Vitae of Durham Cathedral names two priests with this name, one of whom is Bede himself.
Some manuscripts of the Life of Cuthbert, one of Bede's works, mention that Cuthbert's own priest was named Bede. At the age of seven, Bede was sent, as a puer oblatus, to the monastery of Monkwearmouth by his family to be educated by Benedict Biscop and by Ceolfrith. Bede does not say whether it was intended at that point that he would be a monk, it was common in Ireland at this time for young boys those of noble birth, to be fostered out as an oblate. Monkwearmouth's sister monastery at Jarrow was founded by Ceolfrith in 682, Bede transferred to Jarrow with Ceolfrith that year; the dedication stone for the church has survived to the present day. In 686, plague broke out at Jarrow; the Life of Ceolfrith, written in about 710, records that only two surviving monks were capable of singing the full offices. The two managed to do the entire service of the liturgy; the young boy was certainly Bede, who would have been about 14. When Bede was about 17 years old, Adomnán, the abbot of Iona Abbey, visited Monkwearmouth and Jarrow.
Bede would have met the abbot during this visit, it may be that Adomnan sparked Bede's interest in the Easter dating controversy. In about 692, in Bede's nineteenth year, Bede was ordained a deacon by his diocesan bishop, bishop of Hexham; the canonical age for the ordination of a deacon was 25.
Aldfrith of Northumbria
Aldfrith was king of Northumbria from 685 until his death. He is described by early writers such as Bede and Stephen of Ripon as a man of great learning; some of his works and some letters written to him survive. His reign was peaceful, marred only by disputes with Bishop Wilfrid, a major figure in the early Northumbrian church. Aldfrith was born on an uncertain date to an Irish princess named Fín. Oswiu became King of Northumbria. Aldfrith became a scholar. However, in 685, when Ecgfrith was killed at the battle of Nechtansmere, Aldfrith was recalled to Northumbria from the Hebridean island of Iona, became king. In his early-8th-century account of Aldfrith's reign, Bede states that he "ably restored the shattered fortunes of the kingdom, though within smaller boundaries", his reign saw the creation of works of Hiberno-Saxon art such as the Lindisfarne Gospels and the Codex Amiatinus, is seen as the start of Northumbria's golden age. By the year 600, most of what is now England had been conquered by invaders from the continent, including Angles and Jutes.
Bernicia and Deira, the two Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in the north of England, were first united under a single ruler in about 605 when Æthelfrith, king of Bernicia, extended his rule over Deira. Over the course of the 7th century, the two kingdoms were sometimes ruled by a single king, sometimes separately; the combined kingdom became known as the kingdom of Northumbria: it stretched from the River Humber in the south to the River Forth in the north. In 616, Æthelfrith was succeeded by Edwin of a Deiran. Edwin banished Æthelfrith's sons, including both Oswiu of Northumbria. Both spent their exile in Dál Riata, a kingdom spanning parts of northeastern Ireland and western Scotland. Oswiu was a child when he came to Dál Riata, grew up in an Irish milieu, he became a fluent speaker of Old Irish, may have married a princess of the Uí Néill dynasty Fín the daughter of Colmán Rímid. Aldfrith was a child of this marriage, he was thus a cousin or nephew of the noted scholar Cenn Fáelad mac Aillila, a nephew of Bishop Finan of Lindisfarne.
Irish law made Fín's kin, the Cenél nEógain of the northern Uí Néill, responsible for his upbringing. The relationship between Aldfrith's father and mother was not considered a lawful marriage by Northumbrian churchmen of his day, he is described as the son of a concubine in early sources. Oswald and Oswiu returned to Northumbria after Edwin's death in 633, between them they ruled for much of the middle of the 7th century; the 8th-century monk and chronicler Bede lists both Oswald and Oswiu as having held imperium, or overlordship, over the other Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. Oswiu's overlordship was ended in 658 by the rise of Wulfhere of Mercia, but his reign continued until his death in 670, when Ecgfrith, one of his sons by his second wife, Eanflæd, succeeded him. Ecgfrith was unable to recover Oswiu's position in Mercia and the southern kingdoms, was defeated by Wulfhere's brother Æthelred in a battle on the River Trent in 679. Ecgfrith sent an army under his general, Berht, to Ireland in 684 where he ravaged the plain of Brega, destroying churches and taking hostages.
The raid may have been intended to discourage support for any claim Aldfrith might have to the throne, though other motives are possible. Ecgfrith's two marriages—the first to the saintly virgin Æthelthryth, the second to Eormenburh—produced no children, he had two full brothers: Alhfrith, not mentioned after 664, Ælfwine, killed at the battle on the Trent in 679. Hence the succession in Northumbria was unclear for some years before Ecgfrith's death. Bede's Life of Cuthbert recounts a conversation between Cuthbert and Abbess Ælfflæd of Whitby, daughter of Oswiu, in which Cuthbert foresaw Ecgfrith's death; when Ælfflæd asked about his successor, she was told she would love him as a brother: "But," said she, "I beseech you to tell me where he may be found." He answered, "You behold this spacious sea, how it aboundeth in islands. It is easy for God out of some of these to provide a person to reign over England." She therefore understood him to speak of, said to be the son of her father, was on account of his love of literature, exiled to the Scottish islands.
Cuthbert considered a saint, was a second cousin of Aldfrith, which may have been the reason for his proposal as monarch. Ecgfrith was killed during a campaign against his cousin, the King of the Picts Bridei map Beli, at a battle known as Nechtansmere to the Northumbrians, in Pictish territory north of the Firth of Forth. Bede recounts that Queen Eormenburh and Cuthbert were visiting Carlisle that day, that Cuthbert had a premonition of the defeat. Ecgfrith's death threatened to break the hold of the descendants of Æthelfrith on Northumbria, but the scholar Aldfrith became king and the thrones of Bernicia and Deira remained united. Although rival claimants of royal descent must have existed, there is no recorded resistance to Aldfrith's accession, it has been suggested that Aldfrith's ascent was eased by support from Dál Riata, the Uí Néill, the Picts, all of whom might have preferred the mature, known quantity of Aldfrith to an unknown an