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Aethelwold, Bishop of Winchester [Æthelwold; Ethelwold]locked

  • Janet Backhouse

(b Winchester, c. ad 908; d Beddington, Surrey, 1 Aug 984; fd 1 Aug). Anglo-Saxon saint, Church leader, reformer and patron. With Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury (reg 959–88), and Oswald, Archbishop of York (reg 972–92), he was the moving spirit behind the English monastic revival of the late 10th century.

Aethelwold’s career began at the court of King Athelstan (reg 924–39). After ordination he joined Dunstan’s reformed monastic community at Glastonbury. About 954 he established his own monastic house at Abingdon. According to later tradition, he was a skilled worker in metals and personally contributed to the embellishment of the abbey church. Appointed Bishop of Winchester in 963, he introduced reformed communities into both Old and New Minsters and established a regular monastic life in several other centres, notably Ely, Peterborough and Thorney. He was an enthusiastic patron: the masterpiece of the Winchester School of illumination, the Benedictional of St Aethelwold (London, BL, Add. MS. 49598), was made for his personal use by his chaplain, the monk Godeman, later Abbot of Thorney. He ordered major additions to his cathedral church, consecrated with great splendour in 980. He was also responsible for the translation of the relics of St Swithin to a new shrine within the cathedral in 971.


  • F. Wormald: The Benedictional of St Ethelwold, Faber Library of Illuminated Manuscripts (London, 1959)
  • M. Winterbottom, ed.: Three Lives of English Saints (Toronto, 1972)
  • B. Yorke, ed.: Bishop Æthelwold: His Career and Influence (Woodbridge, 1988)
  • R. Deshman: The Benedictional of Æthelwold (Princeton, 1995)
  • A. Prescott: The Benedictional of St Aethelwold (London, 2002)