Anglo-Saxon Britain (410-1066)
Crayke Abbey : The long-lost monastery at Crayke in North Yorkshire was home to two saints with different but equally valuable gifts.
Crayke Abbey

Based on Alcuin’s ‘The Bishops, Kings, and Saints of York’; Symeon of Durham’s ‘Of the English Kings’; and Bulmer’s ‘History and Directory of North Yorkshire (1890)’.

Crayke in North Yorkshire was at one time home to a thriving monastic community, founded by St Cuthbert of Lindisfarne (634-687), and blessed with two eighth-century saints, St Echa (or Etha) whose feast is kept on May 5th, and St Ultan, commemorated on August 8th.

WHEN St Cuthbert was consecrated bishop of Lindisfarne in 685, King Ecgfrith of Northumbria gave him an estate at Crayke, some twelve miles north of York, as a place to stay on his journeys to the capital.

Cuthbert at once founded a monastery there, and appointed the first abbot; one monk in the early days was Ultan, an Irishman admired for his beautiful illuminated manuscripts. And in 882, the monks who had been driven out of Lindisfarne by the Viking invasion seven years earlier brought St Cuthbert’s body to Crayke Abbey, for four months of welcome respite.

In 732, Ecgbert became bishop of York, and it was in his time that a monk named Echa retired to the seemingly endless woods surrounding Crayke, and built himself a hermitage.* His contemporary and neighbour Alcuin wrote that Echa lived in the company of the angels rather than men, but that those who visited him found a holy man gifted with prophetic powers. Echa died peacefully in 767.

* Alciun of York (735-804) calls him Echa. Symeon of Durham (1060-1129) calls him Etha. Both wrote in Latin.

Based on Alcuin’s ‘The Bishops, Kings, and Saints of York’; Symeon of Durham’s ‘Of the English Kings’; and Bulmer’s ‘History and Directory of North Yorkshire (1890)’.

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Picture: © Pauline E, Geograph. Licence: CC BY-SA 2.0. View original
The Parish Church of St Cuthbert in Crayke, North Yorkshire, stands on the site of the monastery of St Peter founded here in the 7th century by St Cuthbert himself. The present church dates back to 1490. For the view in the opposite direction, through the gate and over the Vale of York, see this photo.

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