Nec silentio praetereundum : the significance of the miraculous in the Anglo-Saxon church in the time of Bede
This thesis is based on a study of miracle stories recorded by Anglo-Saxon ecclesiastical writers in the early part of the eighth century. It responds to a number of previous works which have concentrated solely on the miracle stories told by Bede, and argues that the stories of all the writers are the product of the historical situation. The idea that such stories were produced in order to respond to claims made in Irish or Continental hagiography, or by Anglo-Saxon paganism, is rejected; instead, we need to accept the assertion of the authors that these events were recorded because they were believed to have happened and to be of historical importance. Therefore, they provide an insight into the way that these authors approached the writing of history; an analysis of those involved in the stories, of the circumstances of the events, and of the likely transmission, suggests a close-knit circle of mainly noble monastics on whom the writers depended for information, and for whom they wrote. The miracle stories disclose that this approach to history was heavily informed by theological ideas, and by the bias of the author and his/her community. Precisely because the miracle material is to modern eyes unusual (if not incredible), these stories enable us better to understand the mind and methods of the writers on whom much of our knowledge early Anglo-Saxon history depends.