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Æthelwine of Athelney

Æthelwine of Athelney was a seventh century Catholic saint.
He lived as a Hermit on the Island of Athelney in the marsh country of Somerset,[1] and is known to us through being recorded in the Hagiography of the Secgan Manuscript.[2][3][4]
He was venerated as a saint after his death.

Personal life

Aethelwine was a son of Cynegils, king of the West Saxons from 611-42 AD and the brother of Cenwealh, king of the West Saxons from 642-672AD.

William of Malmesbury[5] says that he had a chronic disease.[6]

Etymology of his Name

His name is two Anglo Saxon words, Aethel (prince) and Wine (friend protector).

King Alfred's Monument
He takes his suffix from Athelney, the island he lived on. Athelney was made falmous as the island fort, in the somerset marshes from where Alfred the Great launched his conquest of the Danes, two centuries after Æthelwine lived there. Translated from Anglo-Saxon the name of Athelney isle is "Æthelinga íeg", thought to mean the "Island of Princes"(æðeling) and as it had this name prior to Alfred it is possible that it derived from Æthelwine, or that it was an established royal residence, fort or refuge of some type. To give thanks for his victory, Alfred founded on the Isle in 888 AD, a monastery, Athelney Abbey.[7]


  1. ^ Lyng and Athelney by Miranda Richardson.
  2. ^ Stowe MS 944, British Library
  3. ^ G. Hickes, Dissertatio Epistolaris in Linguarum veterum septentrionalium thesaurus grammatico-criticus et archeologicus (Oxford, 1703), p115.
  4. ^ The Oxford Dictionary of Saints, Oxford University Press.
  5. ^ William of Malmesbury Gesta Pontificum Anglorum ii.92.3
  6. ^ Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England
  7. ^ 'Houses of Benedictine monks: The abbey of Athelney', A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 2 (1911), pp. 99-103.

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