Miraculous Soil: Anglo-Saxon Soil Veneration in the Early Medieval Period
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The purpose of this thesis is to understand why Anglo-Saxons venerated soil relics in the early medieval period. Soil was collected from locations which were connected to the cult of a saint, to serve as relics. These relics were then often utilised for their miraculous healing or protective properties, which were described in detail by Bede. The soil relics of saint Oswald have been thoroughly described in Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People, more so than any other source. As a result of this, it remains the main case study of this thesis. Researching this phenomenon has shown that soil relics were revered because soil acted as an excellent medium to hold the essence of a saint. Soil relics could cure rural people, who struggled more than elite people to access successful healing through conventional methods. Roman customs of soil veneration certainly affected Anglo-Saxon soil tradition, as many of their soil veneration practices are shared by both cultures.