Showing posts from January, 2012


Ely was as much a holy island as Lindisfarne or Ionain Saxon times. To this day the cathedral stands on its little hill above the flat black fens, but since the meres and marshes were drained, on an island no more!
I had come to Ely in search of St. Withburg.In the 10th century monks stole her body from Dereham churchyard and enshrined her relics in the abbey church next to those of her royal and saintly sisters – Etheldreda and Sexburgh . Etheldreda founded the monastery in the 7th century and when she died Sexburgh became abbess.
The tides of time have washed away most traces of the holy sisters. HenryVIII’s commissioners made a thorough job of destroying their shrines. And, with the passing of the monasteries, the abbey church became the Cathedral for the Diocese of Ely.
I did find one direct link to the foundation years, parts of a memorial that once marked the grave of Ovin, Etheldreda’s steward. Dug up by chance in the 19th century, Ovin’s Stone now stands in the south aisle of th…