Dr Mike Bintley is Lecturer in Early Medieval Literature and Culture at Birkbeck, University of London, and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He is an interdisciplinary scholar of early medieval England and Scandinavia, whose research covers a wide range of evidence, including literature, history, and archaeology. His publications include Trees in the Religions of Early Medieval England (Boydell, 2015), Settlements and Strongholds in Early Medieval England: Texts, Landscapes, and Material Culture (Brepols, 2019), and Andreas: An Edition (Liverpool University Press, 2016), a major edition and translation of an Old English poem.
Bede’s Ecclesiastical History sees Augustine of Canterbury and his entourage process into Canterbury after meeting Aethelbert of Kent on the Isle of Thanet, singing a litany imploring God to turn aside his anger from the city. This essentially urban act initiated connections between the Church and the idea of the city that is found throughout the literature, historical writing, and material culture of the period. In exploring this evidence, this talk will consider the part that these ideas played in defining the relationship between people and the places they inhabited across four turbulent centuries of religious, political, and cultural change.