2023 marks 1350 years since St Etheldreda first established a monastery in Ely in AD 673. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims have flocked to Ely Cathedral in her name and churches across the country have been named in her honour.
By any standards, Etheldreda was a remarkable woman in a time of remarkable women. Far from being the wishy washy figure of so much stained glass, she was – had to be – a tough operator.
Great saints are not pushovers. She got her way. She changed the map in the Not-Yet-England of her time (c. 636 AD-679 AD).
What was it like to be a Princess then, an Abbess in a land where the old gods were still honoured by many? What power did women in her position wield? What did it mean to be revered as a Saint?
Charles Moseley's lively account puts Etheldreda in context, painting a vivid picture which reveals what it was like to be a nun in those days, how marriage was viewed, what the countryside which these intrepid people crisscrossed looked like.
Dr Charles Moseley is a local historian and academic, and the author of To Everything A Season. His varied career includes being a printer, a publisher and a peasant, but has mainly been teaching literature in Cambridge and attempting to persuade his victims to take this pursuit seriously. He has lived in a little Fenland village for a very long time.