PASE: Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England


[Image: Excerpt from the Domesday Book]
[Image: Durham Liber Vitae, folio 38r (extract)]

Cwenthryth 3 Cwenthryth the nun, fl. 1066

Author: CPL
Editorial Status: 4 of 5

Discussion of the name



Cwenthryth 3 was a nun who had ½ carucate worth 8 shillings in a suburban vill outside Lincoln.

Distribution map of property and lordships associated with this name in DB

List of property and lordships associated with this name in DB


Holder 1066

Shire Phil. ref. Vill Holder 1066 DB Spelling Holder 1066 Lord 1066 Tenant-in-Chief 1086 1086 subtenant Fiscal value 1066 value 1086 value Holder 1066 ID conf. Show on map
Lincolnshire 67,27 Canwick Quendrud Cwenthryth the nun - Colgrim 'of Ewerby' - 0.50 0.40 0.40 A Map
Total               0.50 0.40 0.40  



The name Cwenthryth occurs only once in DB, as that of Cwenthryth the nun (monacha) who held ½ carucate worth 8 shillings at Canwick, immediately south-east of the city of Lincoln. This is DB’s only use of the word monacha for a nun, rather than monialis or nonna, but nothing can be read into the choice of word (Foot 2000: I, 103–4). Canwick probably had ancient connections with Lincoln and its burgesses (Hill 1948: 9, 231 note 1, 344, 354–6) and in 1066 all the rest of it and the linked township of Bracebridge was in the hands of just two prominent burgess families. Walraven the lawman (Walraven 6) and his sons Agemund (Agemund 7) and Skule (Skule 10) had a slightly larger share of the two vills than Ulf the lawman. It is conceivable that Cwenthryth was a member of one or other of those families. Nothing is known of any Anglo-Saxon nunnery in the vicinity to which Cwenthryth may have been attached, apart the statement of John Leland in the earlier sixteenth century that until the transfer of the diocesan seat to Lincoln early in William I’s reign a nunnery had occupied the site of the deanery in the close of Lincoln cathedral (Foot 2000: II, 109). No reliance can be placed on Leland’s assertion, and it is not even clear that it relied on local tradition (which may not have been true anyway). In any case, not all Anglo-Saxon nuns were attached to nunneries, and Cwenthryth may have lived as a solitary in Canwick or Lincoln. It is striking that she had the name of a famous ninth-century Mercian abbess, and she may have taken the name when she was professed a nun, whether in infancy or later.



Foot 2000: Sarah Foot, Veiled Women, 2 vols (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000)

Hill 1948: J. W. F. Hill, Medieval Lincoln (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1948)

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