Language and History English a traditional approach to grammar and composition
Bread from Heaven

Based on The Life of Cuthbert by St Bede of Jarrow (?672-735).

A shieling is a temporary stone hut, built for the summer months when sheep or cattle are taken to higher ground. Bede tells us that a near-contemporary, the seventh-century saint Cuthbert, once had a remarkable experience in one of these huts, as he was journeying across the empty moorland of Northumbria.

AT ten o’clock one morning, Cuthbert stopped off in a village, hoping to find something for his horse to eat; as it was a Friday and Cuthbert liked to fast until three, he declined all offers of food himself, though he had no idea when he might eat again.

He returned to the road until night fell around four (it was the beginning of winter). A derelict shieling out on the moors provided some shelter,* and his horse at once started tugging away at the remaining thatch. Cuthbert contented himself with psalms.

Presently, he noticed something tumble down with the straw: a little cloth bundle. Inside, he found half a loaf of bread, still hot, and some slices of meat. Cuthbert gave half the bread to his horse, and ate the rest himself.

It put him in mind, he later told Ingwald at the monastery in Monkwearmouth, of Elijah, who was fed by ravens;* and Ingwald told Bede, who recorded it all for posterity.

* A shieling (see picture) is a traditional hut in remote parts of Scotland and northern England, built by shepherds and cowherds for the summer months and then abandoned. The word may also be used for the pasture land where the sheep or cattle live.

* See 1 Kings 17:2-6. At the time when the miracle took place, Cuthbert had decided to become a monk but had not actually joined a monastery.

Based on The Life of Cuthbert by St Bede of Jarrow (?672-735).

More like this

Saint Bede of Jarrow (19) Lives of the Saints (93) History (386) St Cuthbert of Lindisfarne (13) Northumbrian Enlightenment (29) Northumberland (26) Bible and Saints (108)

Picture: © Mike Quinn, Geograph. Licence: CC BY-SA 2.0. View original
To the right of Thinhope Burn near Slaggyford, south of Haltwhistle in Northumberland, are the remains of a shieling – a rough, temporary shepherd’s hut built for the summer months and then abandoned until next year. Cuthbert himself had once been a shepherd, so this would have been a familiar environment for him.
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow

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