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Beornwald (Berenwald, Byrnwold) of Bampton


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(8th century (?),

priest and possibly founder of this large Mercian minster church. His existence is proved by his presence in Latin and French versions of R.P.S., in Winchester litanies of the 11th century and in Martyrologies of the 12th century (Exeter) and of the 15th (Syon Abbey), in which last he is described, probably wrongly, as martyr. There are references in an early 12th-century charter to his feast at Bampton; which the chaplain of the daughter church at Alvescot had to visit, and to his shrine, for whose repair the Dean and Chapter of Exeter assigned money. He was also mentioned in a will of 1516 in which William Wode, a Bampton clerk, bequeathed his soul ‘to God, to our Lady, Sent Barnwald and all the seintes of hevyn’. The shrine was probably situated in the north transept of the church, where some remains survive; it was marked by a brass whose indent depicts a figure clothed in vestments, with a crozier but no mitre.

Bampton was not a monastic church and it seems likely that Beornwald was the ruler of an old-style secular minster. Little is known of his life or even his date, yet his memory lived on until the Reformation. Feast: 21 December.

John Blair, ‘Saint Beornwald of Bampton’, Oxoniensia, xlix (1984), 47–55.


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