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Saint Cuthburh or Cuthburg (Old English: Cūþburh; died c. 718) was the first Abbess of Wimborne Minster. She was the sister of Ine, King of Wessex and was married to the Northumbrian king Aldfrith.

Saint Cuthburh
Abbess, Queen
Diedc. 718
Venerated inRoman Catholic Church
Anglican Communion
Feast31 August
Wimborne Minster.jpg
Her Abbey, now Wimborne Minster
Queen consort of Northumbria
Abbess of Wimborne Minster
Diedc. 718
SpouseAldfrith of Northumbria
IssueOsred I of Northumbria
HouseHouse of Wessex (by birth)
FatherCenred of Wessex


Cuthburh was the daughter of Cenred of Wessex. Her marriage to Aldfrith allied him with Ine, one of the most powerful kings in Anglo-Saxon England. Aldfrith had at least two sons, but whether Cuthburh was their mother is not recorded.[1]

According to a report by Florence of Worcester, written long afterwards, at some time before Aldfrith's death in 705 he and Cuthburh "renounced connubial intercourse for the love of God". Following this, Cuthburh entered Abbess Hildelith's nunnery at Barking Abbey.[2] Cuthburh is traditionally associated with the "Cuthburh" mentioned in the dedication of Aldhelm's treatise De virginitate.[3] It is thought that she was in some way related to Aldhelm.[2] After Aldfrith's death, around 705, Cuthburh and Cwenburh established a double-monastery in her brother's kingdom of Wessex, at Wimborne, Dorset.[2]

She is described as austere, and she communicated with prelates through a little hatch in the nunnery at Wimborne. Among Saint Boniface's surviving letters is an anonymous account of a vision of Abbess Cuthburh in Hell.

In 1558, Wimborne Minster being in need of repair, the guardians of the church wrote Thomas Cromwell for permission to melt down the silver reliquary containing Cuthburh's head. As a few years later, the tower collapsed, it is surmised that the reliquary was confiscated to the King's use. It is not mentioned what then happened to her head.[4]

The feast day associated with her is 31 August.[2]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Kirby, D. P. The Earliest English Kings. London: Unwin Hyman, 1991. ISBN 0-04-445691-3, p. 145.
  2. ^ a b c d Mayo, 1860
  3. ^ Dockray-Miller, Mary. Motherhood and Mothering in Anglo-Saxon England, Springer, 2000, ISBN 9780312299637, p. 29
  4. ^ "Wimborne Minster", The Saturday Review, October 1, 1881, p. 415, John W. Parker and Son


  • Farmer, D. H. (1987). The Oxford Dictionary of Saints, (pp. 96). Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  • Lapidge, Michael, "Cuthburg", in M. Lapidge et al., The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Anglo-Saxon England. (Oxford: Blackwell, 1999)
  • Mayo, C.H. (1860). History of Wimborne Minster: The Collegiate Church of Saint Cuthberga and King's Free Chapel at Wimborne, (pp. 4–6). London: Bell and Daldy.

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