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King Athelstan

William Marshal

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Timeline of Orthodox Christianity in the British Isles

(c) = circa
(d) = disputed date


Rome acknowledges Cymbeline, King of the Catuvellauni, as king of Britain.

30 (c)

Crucifixion and Resurrection of our Lord, God and Saviour Jesus Christ. The Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost marks birth of the Church.


Claudius's invasion of Britain. Caratacus leads British resistance, but is finally defeated in 51.


Caratacus, British general, is captured and taken to Rome.


Writing of the 'Memoirs of the Apostles' (the New Testament).


Boudicca, queen of the Iceni, leads uprising against the Roman occupiers of Britain, but is defeated and killed by the Roman governor, Suetonius Paulinus.


St Joseph of Arimathea comes to Glastonbury on the first Christian mission to Britain.


Martyrdom of the Apostles Peter and Paul at Rome.


Destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by the Romans.


The Roman conquest of Britain; Julius Agricola is imperial governor (to 84).


Construction of Hadrian's Wall ordered along the northern frontier, for the purpose of hindering incursions of the aggressive tribes there into Britannia.


Julius Severus, governor of Britain, is sent to Palestine to crush the revolt.


Antoninus Pius erects another wall, north of Hadrian's.


At the request of King Lucius, the missionaries, Phagan and Deruvian, are sent by Pope Eleutherius to convert the Britons to Christianity.


Clodius Albinus, governor of Britain, another claimant to the Imperial throne, is killed by Severus at the battle of Lyon.


Severus goes to defend Britain, and repairs Hadrian's Wall.

208 (c)

Tertullian of Carthage writes concerning "districts of the Britons, unreached by Romans, but subdued to Christ." (He was probably referring to Wales.)

209 (d)

St Alban, first British martyr, is killed for his faith at Verumalium (now St Albans, Hertfordshire), in one of the few persecutions of Christians ever to take place in Britain, during the governorship of Gaius Junius Faustinus Postumianus. (There is controversy about the date of St Alban's martyrdom. Some believe it occurred during the persecution of Decius around 254; Gildas and Bede both date it around 305, under Diocletian.)

270 (c)

Beginning of the "Saxon Shore" fort system, a chain of coastal forts in the south and east of Britain, listed in a document known as "Notitia Dignitatum."


Revolt by Carausius, commander of the Roman British fleet, who rules Britain as emperor until murdered by Allectus, a fellow rebel, in 293.


Emperor Diocletian orders a general persecution of the Christians.


Constantine (later to be known as "the Great") is proclaimed Emperor at York.


Persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire ends.


Constantine defeats and kills Maxentius at battle of Milvian Bridge. Constantine converts to Christianity.


Edict of Toleration proclaimed at Milan, in which Christianity is made legal throughout the empire.


Three Romano-British bishops (of London, Lincoln, and York), for the first time, attend a continental church gathering, the Council of Arles.


Constantine finally achieves full control over an undivided empire.


Emperor Constantine convokes the First Oecumenical Council at Nicaea (Nicaea I). This synod declares the Son to be "one in essence" with the Father, condemning Arius and his teaching, and writes the first draft of the Symbol of Faith (Creed).


Emperor Constantine receives baptism on his deathbed. Joint rule of Constantine's three sons: Constantine II (to 340); Constans (to 350); Constantius (to 361).


St Martin founds first Gallic monastery near Tours. (The monastic movement began in the Egyptian desert, but is now spreading to Gaul. St Martin is the founder of the particularly "Celtic" form of monasticism in which the monastery becomes a tool of evangelistic outreach among the pagani, or country folk — an ideal approach for the Celts, who do not have cities and whose territorial boundaries are always somewhat fluid.)

In the same year, three Romano-British bishops attend the Council of Ariminum.


Celtic pagan revival in Britain about this time (Lydney, etc.).


Series of attacks on Britain from the north by the Picts and the Irish (Scots), and from the North Sea by the Saxons, requiring the intervention of Roman generals leading special legions.


Roman general Theodosius drives the Picts and Scots out of Roman Britain. Imperial rule is restored, but henceforth there is a rapid decline of towns and villa economy.


Eastern Emperor Theodosius the Great convokes Second Oecumenical Council at Constantinople (Constantinople I). This synod confirms the Council of Nicaea, completes the Symbol of Faith (Creed), and ends the Trinitarian controversy, affirming the divinity of the Holy Spirit. It also establishes the "Pentarchy" of the Church: the five Patriarchates of Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem; though all bishops remain equal, the patriarchs preside in love.


Magnus Maximus (the 'Prince Macsen' of Welsh and Cornish legend), a Spaniard, is proclaimed Emperor in Britain by the island's Roman garrison. With an army of British volunteers, he conquers Gaul and, in 388, occupies Rome itself. However, Eastern Emperor Theodosius defeats and beheads him in July, 388. The net result to Britain is the loss of many valuable troops needed for the island's defence.


Emperor Theodosius captures Magnus Maximus (Macsen) and executes him. Following his defeat, Macsen's widow, Helena, and her sons return to her native Wales, establishing monasticism there according to the pattern of St Martin of Tours.


Theodosius, the last emperor to rule an undivided empire, dies, leaving his one son, Arcadius, emperor in the East and his other son, the young Honorius, emperor in the West. At this point the office of Roman Emperor changes from a position of absolute power to one of being merely a head of state.

395 (c)

Niall, High King of Ireland, sacks cities of western Britain.


The Roman general, Stilicho, acting as regent in the western empire during Honorius's minority, reorganises British defences decimated by the Magnus Maximus debacle. Begins transfer of military authority from Roman commanders to local British chieftains.


Stilicho clears Britain of barbarians (the first 'rescue' described by Gildas?).

First half
of 5th c.

Cunedda, from the north, takes over a large part of Wales. Other chieftains in western and northern Britain claim succession to imperial power.


During the same period, there is much missionary and literary activity by British Christians. St Ninian converts some of the Picts. Pelagius teaches in Rome. Possible settlement of monks or hermits in Glastonbury.


Patricius (St Pádraig) is taken into slavery in Ireland.


Troops again moved from Britain, this time by Stilicho for the defence of Italy from Alaric and the Goths.

405 (c)

Niall, High King of Ireland, is killed at sea. Irish threat to Britain is henceforth much reduced, though some Irish settlers remain, e.g. in south Wales.


Encouraged by weakening British defences, Pictish incursions increase in frequency and intensity. Threat of Saxon raids cause increased worry among Britons.


Constantine III (the 'Bendigeit Custennin' of Welsh legend, and king of Britain in Geoffrey of Monmouth) proclaimed new emperor by Roman garrison in Britain. He goes to Gaul taking most of the remaining regular forces.


The Great Saxon attack on Britain. The regional councils or civitates rebel against Constantine. Britain autonomous within the Empire; provisional de facto recognition by Emperor Honorius. The Goths, under Alaric, sack Rome.


The preaching of the heresy of Pelagianism is outlawed in Rome.

418 (c)

Possible imperial expedition to Britain and partial re-occuption (the second 'rescue' described by Gildas?).


Emperor Honorius issues a decree forbidding any Pelagians to come nearer to Rome than the one-hundredth mile marker. In the same year, Agricola introduces Pelagian doctrine into Britain.

425 (c)

No imperial forces or administration in Britain after this date. Vortigern is probably beginning to rise to prominence, possibly as "high-king." Saxons in Cambridgeshire.

428 (d)

Vortigern authorises the use of Saxon mercenaries for the defence of Britain against barbarian attack. This time is known in Latin as the "adventus Saxonum" or the coming of the Saxons. It is also sometimes dated at around 447-449.


Prominent Gallo-Roman Bishops Germanus of Auxerre and Lupus of Troyes are dispatched to Britain to combat the Pelagian heresy, which is apparently favoured by Vortigern's 'Celtic' party.


Emperor Theodosius II convokes Third Oecumenical Council at Ephesos. This synod condemns Nestorianism (the belief that Christ is actually two persons), affirming the unity of Christ as perfect God and perfect man. It also affirms the title "Theotokos" for the Virgin Mary because Christ is truly God.


In the same year, Pope Celestine of Rome sends Palladius to Ireland.

432 (c)

Death of St Ninian, Apostle to the Picts. In the same year, St Pádraig begins his mission to Ireland.


Increasing Saxon settlement in Britain. Raids on British towns and cities by Saxons becoming more frequent.


Second visit of St Germanus to Britain. Britons appeal unsuccessfully to Aëtius, Roman governor of Gaul, for military assistance.


The Jutes under Hengest and Horsa conquer Kent, in southern Britain.


Emperor Marcian convokes the Fourth Oecumenical Council at Chalcedon. This synod condemns monophysitism (the belief that Christ has only one nature), affirming that Christ is two natures (divine and human) united in one person ("hypostatic" union).

457 (c)

Full-scale Anglo-Saxon revolt about this time and sacking of lowland Britain. Saxon control spreading westward.

460 (c)

Mass migration of British refugees across Channel to Armorica (later named Brittany) and to Spain. Collapse of British economy.


Death of St Pádraig.

461 (c)

Death of Vortigern. Ambrosius Aurelianus assumes command of British forces, and there is a gradual British recovery under the remnant of the Romanised citizenry.


Seaborne British army joins Armorica settlers in campaign to restore authority of Emperor Anthemius in Gaul. Ambrosius's counter-offensive against Anglo-Saxons (driving them back to settlements and containing them) beginning now or a little later.


At this time also, Faustus, a British bishop, perhaps a son of Vortigern, becomes prominent in Gaul. British Church now virtually cut off but regaining vigour.


The last Western Roman Emperor, Romulus Augustulus, is deposed by the barbarian Odoacer, ending the Roman Empire in the West.

477 (c)

Aelle, the South Saxon leader, lands near Selsey.


Probable lull; St Germanus's biographer speaks of Britain as prosperous.

495 (c)

Cerdic, the West Saxon leader, lands from Southampton Water.


Angles and Saxons on Humber, in north Lincolnshire, in East Anglia, Essex, Middlesex, Sussex, Hampshire, and advancing from the Wash toward the upper Thames; Jutes in Kent and New Forest. British migration to Armorica continuing (and throughout this century), but some success at home in containing the invasion. Arthur is among the British leaders.


St Illtud is at Llantwit Major during the first quarter of the 6th century. He has many disciples and there is a strong forward movement of the Church in west Britain.

500 (c)

St Brigid founds monastery at Kildare.


Spread of Celtic monasticism throughout Europe.

508 (c)

Cerdic defeats Britons in Netley Marsh.

516 or 518

Britons under Arthur win great victory at 'Mount Badon', probably regaining lost ground in Thames valley and north-west of London. After this, there is a phase of British ascendancy and comparative peace, with some Saxons returning to the continent. This peaceful period allows for considerable Church growth. Gildas, St Cadoc, St David and other important ecclesiastical figures will be active in Britain during the next half-century. The Britons also assist the Church in Ireland.


Birth of St Columcille (Columba).


Death of St Dyfrig, Archbishop of Caerleon, Wales, "in King Arthur's Day."

525 (c)

Death of St Brigid (Brid).

537 or 539

Battle of Camlann and death of Arthur.


The five kings denounced by Gildas are ruling over western Britain about this time, Maelgwn of Gwynedd being the most important.


St Ciarán founds monastery at Clonmacnois. He dies later the same year.

547 (c)

Yellow Plague. Death of Maelgwn.

550 (c)

St David takes Christianity to Wales. St Finian founds monastery at Magh Bile (Moville).


West Saxons resume their advance. British defeat at Salisbury.


Emperor Justinian convokes the Fifth Oecumenical Council at Constantinople (Constantinople II). This synod reaffirms the Chalcedonian teaching about Christ, and condemns various heretics.


St Comgall founds monastery at Bangor.


St Breandán founds monastery at Clonfert.

560-580 (c)

North Atlantic voyages of St Breandán and St Cormac.


After the Battle of Culdrevny, St Columcille exiles himself from Ireland, and goes to the island of Iona.

563 or 565

St Columcille founds a monastery on Iona and begins conversion of the Picts to Christianity.


Oldest surviving Welsh poetry: Taliesin, Aneirin, Llywarch Hen, Myrddin ('Merlin'). Urbgen of Rheged drives back the northern Angles.

571 (c)

Saxons overrun British enclave in Buckinghamshire.

574-578 (c)

Sometime when Benedict I was Pope of Rome, the future Pope Gregory meets some Anglo-Saxons from Deira (the southern part of Northumbria) in Rome (St Bede writes that they were exposed for sale in the Roman slave market). Greatly struck by their appearance and troubled that such men should be ignorant of the word of God, Gregory asks leave of Benedict to go and preach Christianity in their country. Gregory sets out, but is called back to Rome by messengers after only three days.


Death of St Breandán of Clonfert, the Navigator.

577 (c)

British are defeated at Dyrham by Ceawlin, King of Wessex, and lose Bath, Cirencester and Gloucester to the Saxons. This forms a landmark in the history of the invasions, since it brings Anglo-Saxon rule to the western sea for the first time, and thereby cuts land communications between the Welsh of Wales and the midlands and their kinsmen of the south-western peninsula.


Death of St Finian of Magh Bile (Moville).


Foundation of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia in England.


St Columbanus leaves from Bangor for Gaul.


Aethelfrith of Bernicia (northern Northumbria) gaining ground in the north. British defeat at Catterick (Gododin).


Death of St Columcille of Iona, the Enlightener of Scotland.


In the same year, the Roman form of Christianity is brought to Britain for the first time by St Augustine, the former papal librarian who is made a missionary by Pope Gregory the Great to convert the Saxons. Augustine founds a monastery and the first church at Canterbury. He baptises King Aethelbert of Kent at Canterbury.


Death of St Comgall of Bangor. In the same year, the Pope sends Paulinus to reinforce the Kentish mission. He bears with him letters from the Pope and a pallium for Augustine, who is consecrated archbishop and establishes his seat in Canterbury.


Aethelfrith, King of Bernicia, routs Aedan, King of the Scots of Dalriada. Soonafter, Aethelfrith wins control of the Kingdom of Deira, and creates the Kingdom of Northumbria.


In the same year, Welsh bishops refuse to co-operate with Augustine.

613 (c)

King Aethelfrith of Northumbria defeats the Welsh near Chester, cutting off Wales from the north.


St Columbanus dies at his monastery in Bobbio, Italy.


Aethelfrith dies, and the Kingdom of Northumbria is secured by Edwin of Deira (to 632). During Edwin's reign, the sons of Aethelfrith and the rest of the Bernician royal family, with many of the nobility, find refuge in the remoter north, some with the Picts and some with the Scots. Both these peoples have long been Christian and several of the Northumbrian exiles, including Oswald, are baptised. (This exile will have profound implications for the history of Christianity in England — see 633.)


In the same year, St Aethelbert, King of Kent, dies.


Martyrdom of St Donnan, Abbot, and 52 monks with him on the Isle of Eigg, Scotland. Death of St Coemgen (Kevin) of Glendalough.


St Ethelburga, daughter of King St Aethelbert of Kent, marries Edwin, the pagan King of Northumbria. Paulinus is consecrated a bishop and travels north with her.


King Edwin of Northumbria and his chiefs accept the Christian Faith and are baptised at York on the Sunday of Pascha by Bishop Paulinus. (Note that one Welsh source claims it was a Welshman who baptised King Edwin.)


Cadwallon, Christian King of Gwynedd, joining the Welsh with the Mercians under the heathen King Penda, defeats the Northumbrians and kills their king, St Edwin, in Hatfield Chase on the borderland between Mercia and Northumbria. Queen St Ethelburga flees to Kent with Bishop Paulinus, who becomes the Bishop of Rochester.


After a year of two apostate kings in Bernicia and Deira, St Oswald assumes the throne of Northumbria (to 641), restoring the Bernician line. St Oswald promptly turns to Iona for help in re-establishing Christianity in Northumbria. A small company of monks led by St Aidan comes from Iona and establishes a monastery (in 635) on the Island of Lindisfarne (Holy Island) whence there was access at low tide. As time went by many more Scottish monks come from Iona and elsewhere to build churches, establish monasteries and give instruction in the discipline and observance of monastic life. During the next twenty years Christianity is firmly established throughout Northumbria.


Later that year, King Oswald of Northumbria defeats Cadwallon and the Welsh invaders near the Roman Wall north of Hexham. Cadwallon dies. This marks the end of effective British challenge to the Anglo-Saxons. After this date, Celtic missionaries, following their work with the fervour characteristic of Celtic Christianity at this time, are active in most of the Anglo-Saxon territory.


Around this time, a third, and this time successful, attempt is made to convert the East Angles. Sigeberht, the brother of Eorpwald, has been converted in Gaul, where he has been living in exile during his brother's reign. On his return to England, he seeks help from Archbishop Honorius who sends him a Burgundian called St Felix, already consecrated a bishop in Gaul. An episcopal seat is established for him at Dunwich on the Suffolk coast, and during his long episcopate of seventeen years the conversion of the East Angles is completed. (St Felix is known as the "Apostle of East Anglia.")

634 (c)

St Cuthbert is born.


In the same year, St Birinus (the "Enlightener of Wessex") leads King Cynegils of Wessex and many of his people to conversion, and establishes a bishopric at Dorchester-on-Thames. (With the introduction of Christianity into Wessex in this way, only Sussex and the Isle of Wight remain of the southern Anglo-Saxon lands which had not been visited by a missionary.)


Death of St Molios (Molaise, Laisren), Abbot of Leighlin, who brought southern Ireland to keep the Orthodox Pascha (at a synod in 631).


King Penda of Mercia defeats and kills St Oswald, King of Northumbria. Oswy becomes King of Northumbria (to 670).


Death of St Ethelburga, Widow of St Edwin the King of Northumbria, and Abbess of Lyminge, Kent.


Death of St Aidan, founder and first Abbot-Bishop of Lindisfarne, and Enlightener of Northumbria. In the same year, St Cuthbert enters the monastery of Maelros (Melrose).


Peada, the son of King Penda of Mercia, marries into the Northumbrian royal family and receives baptism at the hands of St Finan, St Aidan's successor at Lindisfarne. While Penda himself remains heathen, he allows a small mission, part Anglo-Saxon and part Celtic, to work in Mercia.


In the greatest of all the battles between the northern and southern Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, Oswy, King of Northumbria, defeats and kills Penda of Mercia.


Soon after Penda's death, one of the missionaries working in Mercia, an Irishman called Diuma, is consecrated bishop among the Mercians. Shortly afterwards, another of the band, an Englishman, St Cedd, is sent by King Oswy of Northumbria to the East Saxons whose bishop he becomes. Despite his race, the Christianity practised by St Cedd is wholly Celtic in form.


St Hild (Hilda) founds monastery at Whitby.


Synod of Whitby; King Oswy abandons Celtic Christian traditions and accepts Anglo-Roman usage in Northumbria.


St Colman founds monastery at Inishbofin.


Death of King Oswy of Northumbria. He is succeeded by his son Ecgfrith (to 685).


St Maelrubai founds monastery at Applecross, on the Isle of Skye, Scotland.


St Etheldreda founds monastery at Ely.


St Benedict Biscop founds monastery at Wearmouth.


Death of St Etheldreda. From this year, St Adamnan is Abbot of Iona (to 704).


Death of St Hild of Whitby. In this year, St Bede enters the monastery of Wearmouth.


Emperor Constantine IV convokes the Sixth Oecumenical Council at Constantinople (Constantinople III). This synod condemns monothelitism (the belief that Christ has only one (divine) will) as an impairment of Christ's fully humanity. It affirms that Christ has two wills, the human will being subject always to the divine will.


Foundation of monastery at Jarrow.


St Cuthbert, Bishop of Lindisfarne.


St Adamnan visists Northumbria.


Death of St Cuthbert, Bishop of Lindisfarne and Wonderworker of Britain.


The Cain Adomnain ('Law of Adamnan') proclaimed at Birr.


The Lindisfarne Gospels are made.


Death of St Adamnan, Abbot of Iona.


Islamic invasion of Spain.


The expulsion of monks of Iona from the land of the Picts.


Death of St Maelrubai, Abbot of Applecross.


Venerable St Bede completes his Historia Ecclesiastica — the "Ecclesiastical History of the English People."


Death of St Bede.


Offa, King of Mercia: he builds Offa's Dyke to keep out the Welsh.


The Church of Wales adopts the Orthodox calculation of Pascha.


Bresal, Abbot of Iona.


First reign of Aethelred Moll in Northumbria.


Offa, King of Mercia, becomes King of all England.


Higbald, Bishop of Lindisfarne.


Charlemagne summons the monk and scholar Alcuin of York to head the palace school at Aachen: revival of learning in Europe.


Emperor Constantine VI convokes the Seventh Oecumenical Council at Nicaea (Nicaea II). This synod condemns ikonoclasm (the rejection of ikons) as a denial of the Incarnation, affirming the Incarnational basis of ikons and their legitimacy in the Church. It also confirms the teaching of the first six Oecumenical Councils.


In the same year, two Church Councils are held in England, one in the north at Pincanhale, and the other in the south at Chelsea. For the first time, papal legates are present at Councils of the English Church, and this marks the beginning of closer relations between the Church in the British Isles and the Patriarchate of the West. The synods reaffirm the Faith of the first Six Oecumenical Councils (the decrees of the Seventh having not yet been received), and establish a third archbishopric at Lichfield (fulfilling the great desire of King Offa of Mercia that he have an archbishopric within the boundaries of his own kingdom).


Second reign of Aethelred Moll in Northumbria.


The Frankish King Charlemagne sends a faulty Latin translation of the acts of the Seventh Oecumenical Council to the kings and bishops of Britain.


Vikings invade Britain for the first time in a surprise attack on the monastic community at Lindisfarne (Holy Island).


First Viking raids in the Hebrides. Raid on Wearmouth and Jarrow.


In the same year, Charlemagne convenes a council in Frankfurt-in-Main, attended by clergy from Britain and envoys of Pope Hadrian. This council marks the beginning of the alienation of Frankish Christianity from the Apostolic and Patristic Tradition of Orthodox Christianity, by rejecting the decrees of the Seventh Oecumenical Council (largely based on a faulty Latin translation) and inserting the Filioque into the Symbol of Faith (Creed).


Viking raids on Iona, Inishbofin, Inishmurray, Skye and Rathlin.


Death of Offa, King of Mercia, and end of Mercian supremacy in England.


Viking raid on Inis Patraic.


Danish raiding on the Frankish coast.


Viking raids on Tynemouth and Hertenes.


In the same year, on Christmas Day, Charlemagne is crowned "Holy Roman Emperor" by the Pope of Rome. This event marks the break of Frankish civilisation away from a united Romania — the Orthodox Christian Roman Empire, whose capital was at the New Rome of Constantinople.


Connachtach, Abbot of Iona. During this time, the Book of Kells is made.


Burning of Iona.


Cellach, Abbot of Iona.


Egbert, King of Wessex.


The Council of Clovesho abolishes the archbishopric of Lichfield, restoring the pattern of the two metropolitan archbishoprics (Canterbury and York) which had prevailed before 787.


Grant of Kells to the community of Iona.


Viking raid on Iona, and martyrdom of 68 monks.


Transfer of Iona community to Kells.


Charlemagne's Council of Aachen declares the Filioque necessary for salvation. In response, Pope Leo III has the original Creed without the Filioque engraved in Latin and Greek on silver shields and placed at the doors of St Peter's in Rome.


Death of Cellach on Iona. In the same year, Frankish "Emperor" Charlemagne dies.

820 (c)

Foundation of Dunkeld in Scotland.


First Viking raid on Bangor.


Second Viking raid on Bangor. Raid on Skellig Michael.


Raids on Magh Bile (Moville) and Down. Martyrdom of St Blaithmac, Abbot, and many monks with him, on Iona. In the same year, the Irish monk Dicuil, who fled from Iona, completes his cosmography, Libera de Mensura Orbis Terrae, in a continental monastery.


Egbert of Wessex is recognised as overlord of other English kings.


Viking raids on Armagh, "thrice in one month."


Viking raids on Glendalough and Clonmacnois.


Burning of Clonmacnois. Danish raid on Sheppey.


Viking raid on Kildare.


Viking seizure of Dublin.


Viking massacre of Picts at Forteviot.


AEthelwulf, son of Egbert, King of Wessex.


Kenneth mac-Alpin becomes King of Dalriada. In the same year, Armagh is burned by the Vikings.


Viking sack of Nantes.


Kenneth mac-Alpin conquers the Picts and founds a unified Alba (Scotland). He reigns until his death in 858.


Burning of Clonmacnois, Clonfert, Terryglass and Lothra by the Vikings.

845 (c)

John Scotus Eriugena arrives at the court of Charles the Bald.


Division of the relics of St Columcille between Kells and Dunkeld.


Danes overwintering on the Isle of Thanet. Raid on Kells.


Attack on Dublin and Anagassan by Danes.


The Danes defeat the Norwegian Vikings at the Battle of Carlingford Lough in Ireland.

852-870 (c)

Sigurd the Mighty, first jarl of Orkney.


Arrival of Olaf in Dublin.


Eardwulf, Bishop of Lindisfarne.


Danes overwintering on Sheppey.


Defeat of Ketil 'Flatnose' by Olaf and Ivar.


Death of Kenneth mac-Alpin.


AEthelbald, eldest son of AEthelwulf, King of Wessex.


Plundering of the tombs of the Boyne by Olaf and Ivar.


AEthelbert, second son of AEthelwulf, King of Wessex.


Invasion of England by Ivar's 'great host'. Overwintering in East Anglia.


AEthelred I, third son of AEthelwulf, King of Wessex.


Invasion of Northumbria and seizure of York by Ivar's 'great host'..


Olaf raiding in Pictland.


Raiding of Whitby and other Northumbrian monasteries. Battle of York. Deaths of Aella and Osberht.


Olaf's return to Ireland. Raid on Armagh.


Martyrdom of St Edmund, King of East Anglia. Raids on Peterborough, Ely and Coldingham.


Siege and sack of Dumbarton by Olaf and Ivar.


The Danes attack Wessex and are defeated by AEthelred at Ashdown.


St Alfred the Great, King of Wessex.


Death of Artgal, King of Strathclyde Britons.


Death of Ivar, 'king of all the gaill of Ireland and Britain'.


Division of the great host at Repton.


Halfdan overwintering on the Tyne. Devastation of Northumbria.


The monks evacuate Lindisfarne for the last time. In the same year, Adrian (Magirdle), Bishop of Saint Andrew's, Stalbrand, Geodianus, Caius, Clodian, and their companions, are martyred on the Isle of May, Scotland. Halfdan's wars on Picts and Strathclyde Britons. Massacre of Picts at Dollar. Death of Eystein of Dublin.

875 (c)

Death of Thorstein the Red. Migration of Aud and Hebridean Norse to Iceland.


Halfdan's 'apportioning' of Northumbria.


Death of Halfdan in the Battle of Strangford Lough.


Halfdan's warband in Scotland. Death of Constantine at Inverdonat.


St Alfred, King of Wessex, decisively defeats the Danes at Ethandune. By the Peace of Wedmore, England is divided between Wessex in the south and the Danes in the north, the Danelaw. The Danish warlord Guthrum is baptised as a condition of the treaty. In the same year, the shrine and relics of St Columcille are transferred to Ireland.


The relics of St Cuthbert are transferred with his community to Crayke.


Guthred, King of York.


The relics of St Cuthbert are transferred with his community to Chester-le-Street.


St Alfred, King of Wessex, captures London from the Danes.


First manuscript of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.


Torf-Einar, jarl of Orkney.


Death of St Alfred the Great.


Edward the Elder, King of Wessex.


Annexation of Strathclyde by the Scots.


Edward the Elder takes the title "King of the Angles and Saxons."


Raid on Dunkeld by the 'grandsons of Ivar'.


Death of Ivar, grandson of Ivar, in battle at Strathearn.


Defeat of the Danish warlords of Jorvik at the Battle of Tettenhall.


King Edward the Elder recaptures Essex from the Danes. Invasion of northern England by Ragnall (from Norse Dublin).


Norse settlement in Cumbria.


Ragnall, King of York.


Submission of northern kings to King Edward the Elder.


Sitric, King of York.


Athelstan, son of Edward the Elder, becomes king of Wessex and effective ruler of most of England.


Athelstan annexes Northumbria, and forces the kings of Wales, Strathclyde, the Picts, and the Scots to submit to him.


Battle of Brunanburh: Athelstan defeats alliance of Scots, Celts, Danes, and Vikings, and takes the title of "King of all Britain."


Edmund, brother of Athelstan, King of England.


St Dunstan becomes abbot of Glastonbury.


Edred, younger brother of Edmund, King of England; Dunstan is named his chief minister.


First reign of Erik Bloodaxe as King of York.


Second reign of Erik Bloodaxe as King of York. He dies in 954 at the Battle of Stainmore.


Edwy, son of Edmund, King of England.


Dunstan sent into exile by King Edwy.


Mercians and Northumbrians rebel against Edwy.


Edgar the Peaceful, younger brother of Edwy, King of England.


St Edward the Martyr, son of Edgar, King of England.


St Edward the Martyr murdered at Corfe Castle.


AEthelred II, the Unready (ill-counselled), younger brother of St Edward the Martyr, King of England.


The Danes renew their raids on England attacking Chester and Southampton.


Death of Olaf Cuaran on Iona.


Raid on Iona by Danes of Dublin. Erik the Red's voyage to Greenland.


Aldhun, Bishop of Lindisfarne, at Chester-le-Street and Durham.


Battle of Maldon: Byrhtnoth of Essex defeated by Danish invaders; AEthelred II buys off the Danes with 10,000 pounds of silver (Danegeld).


AEthelred makes a truce with Duke Richard I of Normandy.


Danes under Sweyn Forkbeard and Norwegians under Olaf Tryggvasson sail up river Thames and besiege London; bought off by AEthelred.


The relics of St Cuthbert are transferred with his community to Durham.

995 (c)

Baptism of Olaf Tryggvasson. Conversion of jarl of Orkney.


Sweyn Forkbeard and an army of Norsemen land in England and wreak a terrible vengeance.


AEthelred buys two years' peace from the Danes for 36,000 pounds of silver.


The Danes sack Canterbury: bought off for 48,000 pounds of silver.


Sweyn lands in England and is proclaimed king; AEthelred flees to Normandy.


The English recall AEthelred II as King on the death of Sweyn Forkbeard at Gainsborough; Canute retreats to Denmark. In the same year, the Vikings are defeated decisively by the forces of Brian Boru at the Battle of Clontarf. Brian Boru dies in the battle.


Canute again invades England; war between Danes and Saxons.


Edmund Ironside, son of AEthelred II, King of England: he and Canute divide the kingdom, Canute holds the north and Edmund Wessex; Edmund is assassinated.


Canute, King of England.


Canute divides England into four earldoms.


Canute marries Emma of Normandy, widow of AEthelred II.


Death of Canute: his possessions are divided.


Harold I, Harefoot, King of England.


Hardicanute, King of England; he dies of drink.


Edward the Confessor, son of AEthelred II, King of England.


Godwin, Earl of Wessex, exiled: he returns with a fleet and wins back his power.


Edward the Confessor founds Westminster Abbey, near London.


Death of Godwin: his son Harold succeeds him as Earl of Wessex.


The Patriarchate of Rome (and the West) falls into schism from the Church.


Harold's brother Tostig becomes Earl of Northumbria.


Harold and Tostig subdue Wales.


Harold is shipwrecked in Normandy; while there, he swears a solemn oath to support William of Normandy's claim to England.


Northumbria rebels against Tostig, who is exiled.


Battles of Stamford Bridge and Hastings. The Norman Conquest of England. "As the result of one day's fighting (14 October), England received a new royal dynasty, a new aristocracy, a virtually new Church, a new art, a new architecture and new language."


Norman ravaging of Northumbria. Temporary return of St Cuthbert's shrine to Lindisfarne from Durham.


Death of William the Conqueror.


Magnus Olafsson's 'royal cruise' through the Hebrides.


Translation of the relics of St Cuthbert to the Norman cathedral at Durham.


Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland.

14th c.

English Church reformer John Wyclif writes that the true faith is preserved only in the East, "among the Greeks."


Ashe, Geoffrey. The Quest for Arthur's Britain.
Britannia's Timeline of British History
Blair, Peter Hunter. An Introduction to Anglo-Saxon England.
Cahill, Thomas. How the Irish Saved Civilisation.
Duncan, Anthony. The Elements of Celtic Christianity.
Marsden, John. The Fury of the Northmen: Saints, Shrines and Sea-Raiders in the Viking Age.
Moss, Vladimir. The Saints of Anglo-Saxon England.