Ecgberht (Egbert)

Ecgberht (Egbert) was the son of a Kentish noble Ealhmund who claimed descent form Cerdic (519 – 34) the founder of Wessex. He became King in 802
on the death of Beorhtric of whom very little is known.

Ecgberth was married to Redburh of Francia and together they had four sons, all of whom would take their turn in succession of their father.

During Offa’s reign Ecgberht had lived in exile at the court of Charlemagne but once he returned he made his presence felt. In his time he conquered Kent, Cornwall and Mercia gaining the title of Bretwalda the Saxon term for the ruler with overall superiority over all other rulers and was the first ‘King of all England’.

He led expeditions against the Welsh and the Vikings, the latter had begun their forays onto this island during the reign of the much weaker Beorhtric. A year before his death in 839 he also defeated a combined force of Danes and Cornish at Hingston Down in Cornwall.

Ecgberht had a sister Alburga who was married to Wulfstan Ealdorman of Wiltshire. She founded Wilton; a Benedictine Abbey and on the death of her husband she became a nun and later the Abbess of Wilton. On her death she was declared a saint, in all likelihood for the founding of the Abbey.

Also during Ecgberhts’ reign, though something for which he cannot claim any credit; The glorious Book of Kells (800 A.D) was being written in Ireland.

Ecgberht died in 839 A.D and was buried in Winchester.

Cloutie Wells

Clouties wells are places of pilgrimage in the Celtic areas of Britain, Scotland, Ireland and Cornwall.

They are wells or springs that almost always have a whitethorn tree beside them, or on occasion an ash tree. Strips of cloth are tied to the branches of the tree as part of a healing ritual. Cloutie is a Scottish word for strip of cloth or a rag.

The practice is pre-Christian and the pilgrimages are usually made either on local saints days, or on the quarter or festival days. Imbolc 1st February, Beltane 1st May, Lughnasadh 1st August and Samain 1st November.

In 1581 the Scottish Parliament made pilgrimage to Holy wells illegal as it was seen by the Presbyterians as a heathen practice, but as tends to happen the Celts ignored this law and carried on. The practice still continues today.