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This webpage reproduces an article in the
English Historical Review
Vol. 11 (1896), pp417‑430

The text is in the public domain:
F. J. Haverfield died in 1919.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
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p417​a Early British Christianity

The history of early British Christianity has long been recognised as a subject of wide importance. Even in the seventh century its facts and fictions had power to affect religious beliefs, to decide the choice between rival churches; and those facts and fictions have still their weight. The answers to the historical problems when and how Christianity grew up in Britain still influence practical conduct, and, in such a case, one may be pardoned for trying, now and again, to restate the truth as gradually revealed by research. The following paragraphs contain an attempt to summarise what is now certain or probable respecting British Christianity during the first four centuries of our era — that is, during the Roman occupation of our island. The task is difficult. We do not know much of Roman Britain, and the little which we do know has never been collected into any satisfactory whole; the student has no general conspectus to aid his judgment of details, and more or less mischievous misconceptions are not unnaturally very common. This state of things increases the need of such an attempt as I propose to make, but it also increases its difficulty and renders certain defects in treatment all but inevitable.

During the first three centuries we hear and know very little of Christianity in Britain. One or two passages in Tertullian and Origen may suggest that it was introduced at the beginning of the third century, though the rhetorical colouring of these passages forbids precise conclusions.​1 The full growth of the British church  p418 in the fourth century is additional testimony to its existence in the third century, but we know nothing of its origin. We may conjecture, from the silence of ancient writers, that Christianity reached Britain by natural expansion rather than by conscious missionary effort. We may conjecture further from geography that this expansion was Gaulish or German, from the Roman provinces of Gaul and Germany — that is, from what is now France, Belgium, and most of the Rhine valley. The communication between Britain and Gaul was easy and abundant, that between Britain and Roman Germany was hardly less so. In the second and third centuries we find the armies of Britain and the Rhine exchanging recruits; in the fourth century, as Ammianus (18.2) tells us, the British corn ships were accustomed to sail up the Rhine. When or whence Christianity reached Gaul we do not know, but Otto Hirschfeld may be right in thinking that it came from the East to Marseilles and the Rhône valley and was established in Lyons not long before 150 A.D. Arguing from these premises, we may state the following hypothetical origin for British Christianity: that during the third century (and perhaps earlier) individual Christians on individual errands reached Britain, most of them from Roman Gaul and Germany — some, perhaps, from other parts of the empire, for the freedom of movement was very great — and that thus gradually congregations were formed and in time bishoprics established, presumably by the aid of Gallican bishops. But this origin must be recognised as hypothetical: Christianity in Britain, like the university life of later England, sprang from a source which we cannot adequately trace.2

This uncertainty has naturally provoked ecclesiastical historians. No less than six apostles have been supposed to have preached in Britain, and the suppositions, so far from being patriotic inventions of Englishmen, are due mainly to continental writers of the sixth and four following centuries; they are all, of course, guesses unsupported by any sort of evidence. In the seventh century a  p419 more astonishing story appears. Lucius, king of Britain, we read, sent to Pope Eleutherius (about A.D. 174‑189) and requested conversion: whether his request was granted, is not stated. The story is certainly untrue: it is wholly irreconcilable with general history and is rejected by historians of all creeds and schools — by Duchesne, Stubbs, Mommsen — but its history is worth sketching.​b It appears first in the biographical list of popes known as the 'Liber Pontificalis,' and in such a way that we may be sure it was inserted in that list at some time before A.D. 700.​3 From the 'Liber Pontificalis' it was copied inaccurately into the 'Historia Brittonum,' often ascribed to Nennius, and more accurately into Bede's 'Ecclesiastical History;' thence it has spread abroad, and it is still occasionally quoted by ignorant or unscrupulous controversialists. Its origin can hardly be doubtful. Through the seventh century, from Augustine's landing in 597 to the Whitby conference in 664 and Aldhelm's letter to Geraint in 704, a violent controversy raged between the British and Roman bishops, and the arguments used on both sides — for instance, at Whitby — were largely historical. Religious controversies have in all ages been fertile in conscious or unconscious forgeries; the appearance of the Lucius legend at Rome, at the end of the Romano-British dispute, may well be due to that dispute itself. Such an invention need not disturb our conclusions as to British Christianity in the second and third centuries.

With the fourth century we find a fully grown British church. The Diocletianic persecution of A.D. 304 reached Britain, though not, perhaps, in its full fury, and later ages ascribed to it the martyrdom of Alban of Verulamium.​4 In 314 three British bishops from York, London, and Lincoln — Eborius de civitate Eboracensi, Restitutus de civitate Londinensi, and Adelfius de civitate colonia Londinensium (probably an error for Lindensium)​5 — with a presbyter,  p420 Sacerdos, and a deacon, Arminius, attended the council of Arles, in the south of Gaul, and British bishops were present, if not at Nicaea (325) and at Sardica (343), yet certainly at Ariminum (359). Bede refers to churches at Canterbury built during the rule of the Romans — to which I shall return later on. Near the end of the century Victricius of Rouen came over to mediate in a dispute, doubtless about ecclesiastical matters. Our other literary references to Christianity in fourth-century Britain are vague and plainly prompted by the fact that Britain, the remotest west of the empire, was suited to rhetorical antitheses. By the end of the century it is able to produce men like Pelagius the heretic, and Faustus, abbot of Lérins in 434 and bishop of Riez in 461. Early in the fifth century (A.D. 429) the British church was visited by Lupus and Germanus; and perhaps about the same time Fastidius Priscus, Britannorum episcopus, wrote his tract on the Christian life. It is plain that by 400 or 420 Christianity had made vast progress in Britain.

To our literary proofs we may add much archaeological evidence, hitherto somewhat neglected. 1. The Christian monogram and formulae have been found in many parts of Britain. The Cherish-Rho occurs in three villas. At Frampton, in Dorsetshire, it has been set (as it seems) into a fourth-century mosaic, adorned with a head of Neptune and some verses relating thereto; at Chedworth, just north of Cirencester, it has been cut on four building stones; at Harpole, in Northamptonshire, it seems to occur in a pavement. It occurs, further, on many small objects — on a silver cup found at Corbridge, near Hadrian's Wall; on two silver rings from the Roman villa at Fifehead Neville, in Dorsetshire; on a bronze object from York; on a tin vessel from the south, and occasionally on lamps. The formula Vivas in Deo occurs on gold rings from the fortress at Brancaster and the town of Silchester; and the Thames near Battersea has yielded, at different times, no less than eight similar blocks of pewter (tin and lead) stamped with the name Syagrius, the Cherish-Rho, and either the words Spes in Deo or the letters A‑Ω. The name Syagrius first appears prominently in the fourth century, and to that date we may assign the blocks found in the Thames.6

2. Inscriptions in stone are scarcer. None has yet been found in Britain which can be certainly ascribed to a fourth-century  p423 Christian, and few which can plausibly be so ascribed. The phrase plus minus, however, which is often used of a man's length of life on Christian tombstones abroad, appears on the fourth-century tombstone of Flavius Antigonus Papias, recently dug up at Carlisle, and on one (or two) tombstones found at Brougham, in Cumberland.​7 Inscriptions contribute also three curious pieces of negative evidence respecting the growth of Christianity, which deserve attention, although two of them are perhaps only probable. (i) The most important of the three is comprised in an inscription found recently at Cirencester. A square 'basis' or pedestal is inscribed on three panels (the fourth is lost), as follows:—

1. Iovi Optimo maximo L. Sept [imius . . .] vir perfectissimus praeses prov[inciae . . .] restituit CIVS?

2. Septimius renovat, Primae provinciae rector.

3. [Sig]num et erectam prisca religione columnam.

[image ALT: Three small, roughly square stones each inscribed with five lines of Latin in an attractive regular monumental capital script. They are three parts of a Roman inscription found in Silchester, in England, which is transcribed, translated and commented in the text of this webpage.]

Roman inscription found at Cirencester, 1891

That is, L. Septimius, governor of Britannia Prima, restored a column and figure of Jupiter, which had been erected by older piety and had fallen into ruin. The original column and figure was probably set up about A.D. 150‑250: the restoration, beyond question, dates from the fourth century, and there can be little doubt that it is due to some pagan revival, perhaps that of Julian, called the Apostate. The spread of Christianity had caused the monument to fall into ruin: some governor, zealous for the 'old faith,' restored it.​8 (ii) Another example of the same fortune is supplied by a Bath inscription:—

Locum religiosum per insolentiam dirutum Virtuti et Numini Aug. repurgatum reddidit C. Severius emeritus centurio REG?

The inscription does not bear on it such obvious marks of date as its Cirencester fellow, but it was (we are told) found with coins of Carausius beneath it, and it has all the marks of being a restoration at the end of the third or beginning of the fourth century. The reason for the ruin is not stated clearly: the words per insolentiam dirutum suggest, however, the explanation which I offer.​9 (iii) The third piece of evidence is provided by the tolerably numerous class of altars erected Deo Veteri or Dibus Viteribusº which occur in the north of England. These altars are small, rudely cut, and often illegible, and belong obviously to a late date; they seem to indicate a worship of the 'old gods' — the prisca religio of Septimius at Cirencester. It is noteworthy that they have been  p424 found mainly or wholly in military posts, where (as we should infer from other evidence) the old religion lingered latest.​10 This evidence of inscriptions — two or three doubtful tombstones and a few negative records — may seem a small matter; but it is really considerable. In many parts of the empire the custom of erecting inscriptions decayed during the fourth century: in Britain that custom was never vigorous, and at the period in question it stopped almost wholly. A few milestones, a military inscription from the Yorkshire coast, and those which have just been mentioned form almost the whole record. Christianity clearly plays a prominent part in our fourth-century epigraphy.

3. Inscriptions do not exhaust our evidence; there are definite remains also of at least one Romano-British church. In 1892 the excavations at Silchester, the Calleva Atrebatum of the Romans, resulted in the discovery of a small building which by its ground plan declared itself to be a fourth-century Christian church. It stood — or stands — east and west. The central portion is thirty feet long and ten feet wide, with a western apse; on either side are aisles five feet wide; at the east end is a porch, or narthex, seven feet deep, extending the whole width of the building. The 'nave' was floored with coarse red-tile tesserae, but in the apse is a panel, five feet square, of finer mosaic work, marking probably the position of the altar. Outside the building eastwards is a small tiled erection, perhaps the cantharus, and traces of a courtyard, perhaps the atrium. The resemblance of the whole to the fourth-century churches discovered in Italy, Africa, Syria is very striking, and, though the first announcement of the discovery was greeted with natural scepticism, there can be little doubt that it is a Christian church.​11 I may allude here to another early church, the famous St. Martin's at Canterbury. The definite testimony of Bede (H. E. I.26) asserts that this church was originally built in Romano-British days, dum Romani incolerent Brittaniam — that is, certainly before A.D. 445 — and recent examination has convinced some good judges that the nave of the present structure is Roman work. More probably, however, the church, as it stands, dates in its oldest portions from very early Saxon times.12

[image ALT: The plan of a building about 43 feet long, consisting of a nave with a rounded apse and a long aisle-like room on either side, but which does not connect with the nave; and a narthex across all three rooms on the side opposite the apse. It is a ground plan of a paleochristian church at Calleva Atrebatum (Silchester, in England).]

Ground plan of a church at Silchester

 p427  The preceding paragraphs have summarised the literary and archaeological evidence which we possess concerning fourth-century Christianity in Britain; it remains to deduce the character of the British church from this evidence. It was a fully organised church, with three or more bishops; it numbered adherents in all parts of the Roman province. The seats of the bishoprics were in three of the largest towns. In Britain, as throughout the western empire, Christianity spread first and fastest in the great centres of city life. It was not, however, confined to the largest towns; we have detected its traces both in the smaller towns and in the villas of southern and central England. How large a proportion of the population accepted it we do not know. The toleration shown by Constantius Chlorus, the direct protection shown by Constantine doubtless favoured its spread in Britain and Gaul at the end of the third century, and the evidence quoted above shows that at least in the latter half of the next century Christians must have been in a majority in some parts of Britain. On the other hand one class seems wholly uninfluenced. We have no clear sign of Christianity in the army. In the great legionary fortresses of Isca (Caerleon) and Deva (Chester), in the huge military frontier which extended from the Humber to Hadrian's Wall, the presence of the new religion is almost imperceptible. In this Britain resembles the rest of the empire.​13 The imperial army, recruited from peasants and barbarians, pagani and gentiles, contained few Christians. Diocletian and Licinius were able to exclude them from military service without sensibly lessening the supply of men. Fifty years later Julian (A.D. 360‑363) wrote with much satisfaction that 'the mass of his army worshipped the gods.' Some of this adherence to the old religion is visible not only in the rank and file, but in the officers and the official class generally. We know the names of few fourth-century officials in Britain, but it is perhaps not an accident that the praeses L. Septimius appears at Cirencester as worshipping Jupiter, and that Magnus Maximus,  p428 who enjoyed high military command in Britain from 368 to 383, was converted only in 382. After the death of Julian Christianity perhaps spread faster in the army; but this cannot have affected Britain. In 383 Maximus struck a blow for empire and took across the Channel the larger part of the Roman forces. For the next thirty years the Roman government in Britain was weak and intermittent; by degrees it was wholly abandoned.

If the view here indicated of British Christianity be correct, it follows that another view, lately put forward with some confidence, is wholly inaccurate. It has been argued by Mr. Hugh Williams, in a paper read in 1894 before the Cymmrodorion Society,​14 that the church of fourth-century Britain was 'the church of the resident Roman population, not of the people of Britain.' According to this view the only Christians in fourth-century Britain were Romans, and on their 'final departure,' in 410, the existing church collapsed. Instead a new church arose, the church of the Celts; in 410 they had been mostly heathen, by 450 they were mostly Christian. In support of this opinion Mr. Williams urges four considerations. (1) He emphasises the military character of Roman Britain. Roman civilisation, he says, was a varnish which disappeared from the legions. (2) He cites the names of the British clergy present at Arles as the names of Romans. (3) He brings forward parallels from Gaul; and (4) he notices the absence from Welsh literature or tradition of any reference to fourth-century Christianity. I shall venture a few criticisms on this view.

In the first place Mr. Williams seems to me wholly to overrate the Celtic element in Roman and post-Roman Britain. He does not stand alone in this. It is the present fashion to call the Roman occupation an interlude, after which an unaltered Celtic civilisation resumed its interrupted supremacy. This view is the natural outcome of the most recent political developments; it is naturally dear to Welshmen, and a scholar is perhaps foolish to protest against it. Nevertheless it is quite unhistorical. It is quite true that Roman Britain was a military district. As a frontier province it was strongly garrisoned, and its garrison must always have formed its prominent feature. At first, perhaps, this garrison was the only important thing in the island; but that was not the case in the fourth century. The 'departure of the Romans' in 410 was not a departure of foreign officials and troops taking with them a foreign civilisation. It did not mean what the departure of the French from Algeria or the English from India would mean to‑day. Roman civilisation spread widely during the Roman occupation of  p429 our island, and it lasted one if not two centuries after their final departure. In the fifth century the towns of Britain were inhabited as in the fourth, and were known by the same names. The Britons largely used Roman nomenclature and spoke the Roman tongue. They tilled their fields, probably, on a Roman system of agriculture; they retained parts of the Roman military system, and about 470 A.D. they sent 12,000 men to aid the Romans against the Visigoths in Gaul. Even in the sixth century they called themselves Romani in contrast to the surrounding barbarians.​15 This Roman civilisation was perhaps limited to the nobles, clergy, and better educated persons, and it was naturally not permanent; communication with Rome ceased, while neighbouring Celtic influences encouraged Celtic ways and speech. But there were really romanised Britons; they are not imaginary persons, as Mr. Williams seems to think. And from their ranks came the five British clergy at Arles, only one of whom bears a British name.

In the second place Mr. Williams's view seems to me in direct opposition to the comparatively abundant evidence on the subject which I have mentioned above. Mr. Williams confines his fourth-century Christianity to the actual Romans in Britain. But the facts show that the specially Roman elements of the army and officials were not specially Christian; whatever Christianity existed would be unaffected by their departure. On the other hand this Christianity can be traced in many places where Roman influences were not specially present, in towns like Silchester and Canterbury, which we are accustomed to call Romano-British rather than Roman, and in villas. It seems clear that it was a Romano-British Christianity, such as would not be dependent on the presence of Roman officials and would survive the end of the Roman government. There is, therefore, no need to assume (with Mr. Williams) a general and spontaneous movement resulting in a new and popular Celtic church. We have no evidence of such a movement; we have not even time for it. Mr. Williams allows it thirty years, but the result is too vast for one generation to produce. Mr. Williams's theory has been invented to explain an imaginary difficulty, and it has no proofs to support it. It is doubtful whether it ought to have been put forward.

 p430  The truth appears to be that the church which existed in fourth-century Britain continued without interval or interruption into the following centuries. Changes, of course, came with time. The visit of Germanus in 429, the growth of monasticism, the gradual preponderance of the Celtic element among the Britons, the gradual retreat on Cornwall, Wales, Cumberland, the conversion of Ireland​16 — these and other such facts could not fail to influence British Christianity. But the changes were not changes in kind. The British church which argues with Augustine in 597, with Wilfrid in 664, argues in defence of things which many western Christians must have thought obsolete in the seventh century;​17 it was, perhaps, a more conservative church than those which had come to be united as the church of Rome. We have no reason to doubt the essential continuity of the church in Britain from its foundation somewhere in the dim days of the second or third century till its entry into the full light of medieval history.

F. Haverfield.

The Author's Notes:

1 Haddan and Stubbs, Councils and Ecclesiastical Documents relating to Great Britain and Ireland, I.1‑2. Tertullian talks of Britannorum inaccessa Romanis loca, which must be rhetorical and certainly cannot be explained as referring to a revolt in Britain in A.D. 208. I do not think it permissible to argue (as Mr. F. E. Warren does) that, because Christianity in Britain is not mentioned in a treatise written about A.D. 170, and is mentioned about A.D. 200 by Tertullian, therefore Christianity was introduced into the island between those two dates; to argue thus is to force the meaning of words.

2 Mr. F. E. Warren, Liturgy and Ritual of the Celtic Church (Oxford, 1881), pp46‑60, gives four arguments to show that British Christianity was derived from the East through southern France — (1) the smallness and number of Irish churches, (2) Greek elements in Celtic art, (3) legends, (4) liturgical and canonical resemblances between Celtic and eastern churches. The first two arguments are valueless, for (1) the custom of building several small churches appears in western as well as eastern Europe, and (2) the Greek elements in Celtic art, so far as they are really older than A.D. 400, are older than Christianity itself; the third argument proves nothing. The resemblances between the British and Gallican liturgies are hard for a layman to estimate, but if real, and if earlier than A.D. 300, they would of course fit the hypothesis in the text. Duchesne (Origines, pp84‑89), however, suggests that the Gallican liturgy, which seems unquestionably oriental, grew up in the second half of the fourth century; in this case the alleged oriental-Gallican elements in the British liturgy (if they exist) must be much later than the introduction of Christianity into our island. Some of the Greek influences visible in Ireland (e.g. the Greek letters in early Irish manuscripts) are obviously later than 400. But the whole question can hardly be said to be settled.

3 Duchesne, Lib. Pontif. I.136; Mommsen, Hist. Britt. p115. The Liber Pontificalis grew by gradual accretions during the middle ages; the story of Lucius must be as old as A.D. 700, as it appears in a manuscript of about that date. On the other hand it does not appear earlier; it is not quoted by Wilfrid or any such Roman controversialist in Britain and must have come into being just about the end of the seventh century. Mommsen, l.c., makes it tolerably certain that it originated in Rome, not in Britain. Duchesne (I p. ciii) assigns its invention to the fifth century.

4 The connexion of St. Alban with Verulam is as old as A.D. 429, when the saint is first met with; his connexion with Diocletian's persecution first appears in Gildas, a century or more later (Haddan and Stubbs, I.6, note a). Gildas also mentions two other martyrs of this epoch, Aaron and Julius Legionum urbis cives, but their existence is very doubtful.

5 The reading Londinensium is plainly wrong. It is probable that a copyist confused Lindensium with the somewhat similar Londinensi preceding it. Lindum (Lincoln) was a colonia and, as existing remains show, was prosperous in the fourth century. The suggestion Legionensium (Caerleon-on‑Usk) is wholly inadmissible, for (1) Caerleon was from first to last a fortress and never a colonia; (2) there is no proof that its inhabitants were styled Legionenses in the fourth century; (3) the military character of the place renders it a very unlikely centre of Christianity.

6 The list of miscellaneous objects given by Haddan and Stubbs, I.39‑40, requires some correction; Nos. i, ii, vi, viii‑xi should be omitted, and the examples from Fifehead Neville (Ephemeris, VII.1174; Proceedings of the London Soc. of Antiquarians, IX, 1882, 68), York (Hübner, Inscript. Christ. Brit. p218), the south (ibid. p219), the lamps (ibid. p228), and the Brancaster and Silchester rings (Corpus Inscript. Latin. VII.1305, 1307) should be added. For the Battersea blocks see my Roman Inscriptions in Britain, II No. 84; Afranius Syagrius was consul A.D. 382.

7 For the Papias stone see my Rom. Inscr. III No. 157; there are other reasons for thinking it might be Christian. For the Brougham stones see Ephemeris, III.87, 91. CIL VII.1021 may also be a Christian tombstone.

8 For further details as to this inscription, which is shown on the opposite page, see Archaeologia Oxoniensis, June 1894, and my Romano-British Inscriptions, III No. 123.

9 CIL VII.45; Stukeley, Medallic History of Carausius, I.184.

10 See, e.g., my Romano-British Inscriptions, I Nos. 61, 71, 73. It may be as well to observe here that none of the four inscriptions in Haddan and Stubbs, I.39, has any claim to be considered a Christian monument.

11 See Fox and Hope, Archaeologia, LIII (1893), 563 foll. A plan is given on the opposite page, lent by the Society of Antiquaries. Any work on early Christian basilicas will supply parallels from other provinces; see, for instance, F. X. Kraus, Realencyclopädie, I.109‑145; H. Hübsch, Altchristliche Kirchen nach den Baudenkmälern; G. Dehio and G. von Bezold, Kirchliche Baukunst des Abendlandes, pt. 1.

12 I was able last January to examine St. Martin's with Mr. J. T. Micklethwaite and other archaeologists, and thought that the church contained no Roman work in situ. The walls of the nave are roughly built of old material, some of it Roman brick, which must have been taken from ruins; the style of the work is not really Roman, neither are such ruins likely to have existed till after 405. I believe I may add that this is the view of Mr. Micklethwaite, who is one of the higher authorities available. The Romano-British origin of the other churches named by Haddan and Stubbs, I.37‑39, ought not to be asserted. The cruciform platform at Richborough was in reality probably a platform for a lighthouse or beacon; the churches at Lyminge, Reculver, Brixworth, and Dover Castle are certainly of Saxon date. It is just possible that the cathedral of Christ Church, Canterbury, stands on the site of Romano-British church, but the evidence is slight.

13 See, for instance, O. Seeck, Untergang der antiken Welt, I.57. Domaszewski (Religion d. römischen Heeres, pp63, 67, &c.) points out that even in Valentinian's reign the frontier forces were largely heathen. That Christians served is proved by such evidence as the first paragraphs of Tertullian's De Corona, the story of the 'thundering legion,' and the legends of soldier martyrs, but heathen soldiers were certainly the rule. In the fourth century the army, both legions and auxiliaries, were largely recruited from sources which can hardly have been Christian, and Christian soldiers (except in one or two provinces) were probably rarer than in 200 A.D.

14 Some Aspects of the Christian Church in Wales during the Fifth and Sixth Centuries, by Hugh Williams, M.A., professor of church history at the Theological College, Bala (London, 1895), reprinted from the Transactions of the Society of Cymmrodorion, 1893‑4, pp55‑132.

15 See inter alia for the names of persons the index to Hübner's Inscr. Christ. Brit.; for the names of towns, English Historical Review, 1895, X.710; for the military system, the inscriptions mentioning protector (Archaeologia Cambrensis, 1895), emeritus, tribunus (Inscr. Chr. Brit. 13, 102); for the general state of Britain as a former Roman province, Mommsen's remarks in his preface to Gildas, pp9‑10; for the aid sent in 470, Jordanes, Getica, XLV. I may add, as an argument which will find acceptance with some historians, that several of the most important elements supposed to have been taken by the Saxons from the Britons are elements which must have been first borrowed by the Britons from the Romans, such as the title Bretwealda, the dragon of Wessex, the three-field system, and, as some would add, the serf system.

16 The uncertainty which exists as to the birthplace and date of St. Patrick makes it dangerous to include his activity more directly in the present summary. If he was born about 395 at Dumbarton, if Ninian founded Casa Candida in 401, we must assume a growth of fourth-century Christianity over the Scotch lowlands, of which we have no other traces. It has been conjectured that he was born in the English lowlands, which were certainly in part or wholly converted by 400 (English Historical Review, 1895, X.712); whatever the truth, I have preferred not to use uncertainties for arguments.

17 As, for instance, Easter, Haddan and Stubbs, I.152. The British church appears to have adhered to a cycle which the Roman church abandoned about 458 or earlier.

Thayer's Notes:

a Pages 421 and 426, fa­cing the illustrations, are blank.

b The story is of such antiquity, it is of such general plausibility, and if true or partly true its ramifications are so interesting, that it at least deserves to be read rather than summarily dismissed. See the Gunn translation of Nennius p13, note 48, which lays out all the details.

Page updated: 17 Aug 09