The Return of the King

The irony of Christian restoration in Northumbria lay in its vehicle. A young man named Oswald. As a boy of 12, Oswald had had to flee into exile when his Uncle Edwin killed his father, King Æthelfrith, at the Battle of the River Idle. Despite his mother, Acha, being Edwin’s sister, maternal prudence dictated that she should take her children far from her brother’s reach. They went to the sea-spanning kingdom of Dal Riada, which ran from the north-western province of Ireland to the islands and long peninsulas of south-western Scotland, what is today Argyll.

The kingdom of Dal Riada was also the centre of a rising influence in the world of Irish monasticism: the monastery at Iona, which had been founded in AD 563 by a young Irish exile named Columba. It was there, at some point during their exile, that Acha and her children, including Oswald, converted to Christianity.

Unlike for Edwin, these were not conversions bred as much from political reckoning as from faith: this family had come to truly believe in the new god and his religion.

 So when Oswald, by this time a man in his late 20s, heard of Edwin’s fall and the way that Cadwallon was ravaging his father’s kingdom, he decided to return (and yes, there are many similarities between Oswald and Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings; JRR Tolkien was the pre-eminent scholar of Old English in his time).


Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>