We are completely in the dark about what happened to Bede’s body after his death around which we have come to estimate to have been May 25, 735. There are currently no know records of how monks were buried at that time in St. Peter’s monastery or even where the monks’ cemetery was in it’s grounds.

After formative years in St. Peter’s, Monkwearmouth it is reputed that St. Bede moved to the newly built twin monastery in Jarrow. However although he is believed to regularly visit Jarrow, probably to teach monks, he is known to have travelled very little. There is no supporting evidence that he ever left the large St. Peter’s monastery which was comprised of a significant priesthood (believed to over 400), enormous scriptorium, invaluable library of world-wide importance, extensive farms and gardens that had been built at the Sunderland site. It is doubly of doubt that a further hugely expensive scriptorium would have been created at Jarrow for Bede to work in when there was already a thriving one at Sunderland. Even with such incredible royal patronage as that which set up these tow monasteries the staff of newly trained monks, ink production, paper-making, book-binding and curing of leathers to produce bindings would have been a cost too far to be created yet again in Jarrow. So it seems infeasible that Bede would have wanted to be very far night or day from the books in Monkwearmouth he so cherished and studied intensely. When some reference or other came to mind he would have wanted to be near to the books for him to refer to. After such a consultation he no doubt would then have dictated to a novice the work he had in mind. He would never have countenance giving this up and claims that he did so to move to Jarrow seem disingenuous, politically motivated and in complete disregard of what the man himself would have done. It needs to be remembered that Bede was famous in his own lifetime and consulted by leading figures throughout Christendom, he would not have been forced to move easily or without impunity despite his humility. Even more importantly although he stated he lived in Sunderland (Sonderlonde) he himself never described being in Jarrow or stated that he now lived in Jarrow, which speaks volumes in itself for such a meticulous and detailed scholar of history.

Bede kept on creating and producing books until shortly before his death, indeed Cuthbert’s Letter gives us written evidence that Bede was continuing to work on his cherished books right to the very final moments of his days, “Then the boy of whom I spoke, whose name was Wilberht, said once again: “There is still one sentence, dear master, that we have not written down.’ And he [Bede] said: ‘Write it.’. Until new evidence is found huge doubt remains around this whole area.

At a much later date bones reputed to be Bede’s were taken from the Jarrow site. These bones were then moved to Durham Cathedral. A tomb was created in Durham Cathedral but sadly this tomb was destroyed in the Reformation. The present tomb, built in 1831 is inscribed with Bede’s own words:

“Christ is the morning star,
who when the night
Of this world is past

brings to his saints
The promise of the light of life

& opens everlasting day”

A service is held each year in Durham Cathedral on the feast day of Saint Bede for which you are very welcome to attend. More details will be made available each year on the Durham Cathedral website.

There is usually a service held at St. Peter’s, Monkwearmouth where Bede grew up. Details will be available on the parish website.