In the 5th century, the spread of Christianity was a growing threat to the pagans’ hold of fear and ignorance over ordinary people. The pagans’ answer was (as always) violence.
EARLY in the 5th century, Christian villagers on the Welsh borders were being harried by pagan Picts and Saxons. And now, just after Easter in the year 429,* the little community learnt that an army was on its way to murder them all.
For help, they turned to a visiting Bishop from Gaul, called Germanus. Taking command, he quickly assembled them in a valley among hills where there was known to be a strange and alarming echo.
When the army of pagan Picts and Saxons came round the corner, the Britons suddenly shouted at the top of their voices, “Alleluia!”. “Praise the Lord!”.
The hills magnified the sound all around, until the startled enemy ran as fast as they could, ‘thinking’ (says the 7th century historian Bede) ‘the very rocks and sky were falling on them’.
And so it was that, quite unexpectedly, the Britons gained the bloodless ‘Alleluia Victory’.
* The year is disputed; it may have been 430.