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Anglo Saxon name stone

In Anglo Saxon times, Hartlepool was among the most important religious sites of the North of England. A double monastery – with both nuns and monks – was built there in the seventh century, with a village around it. The monastery was run by the first woman to ever rule such an institution – the famous St Hild who was also in charge of the monastery at Whitby.

Anglo Saxon namestone 650AD to 750AD

Anglo Saxon namestones were used to mark graves. They were engraved with a large cross and one or two personal names. This one was found in 1833 in an Anglo Saxon cemetery near the site of the Hartlepool monastery. The stone is inscribed with letters, words and images. The central image is of a Christian cross. The letters ‘…bba’ are inscribed on the stone – the name could be ‘Abba’ or ‘Ebba’ which were both common female names of the time.

Anglo Saxon namestones are very rare, which suggests they were only used for the most important people. Most of the namestones found in Hartlepool had female names on them. Findings like this are vital to our understanding of how the Anglo Saxons lived and shaped early Britain.

Image courtesy of Hartlepool Borough Council