St Oswald

ST. OSWALD – King of Northumbria and martyr. The son of Ethelfrith, King of Northumbria. Oswald fled to Scotland, when Edwin seized the kingdom in 616, and became a Christian at Iona. On Edwin’s death in 633 he and his family, like other royal exiles, returned to Northumbria. Cadwalla ruled Northumbria for a year before Oswald with a much smaller army defeated and killed him at Hevenfelt near Hexham. Before the battle Oswald had set up a wooden cross and assembled his army to pray for victory around it. Not more than a small proportion would have been Christian. Soon after the battle he sent for a bishop from Iona to preach the Gospel in Northumbria.

First a severe bishop was sent, who met with no success among people whom he considered barbarous and obstinate. He was soon replaced by the kindly Aidan whose sermons Oswald himself interpreted and to whom he gave the island of Lindisfarne for a monastery and Episcopal seat. Aidan met with great success.

[pullquote]Oswald united both parts of Northumbria. His reign did not last long[/pullquote] After eight years he was killed by the pagan king Penda of Mercia at the Battle of Maserfeld at the age of 38 praying with his last breath for the souls of his bodyguard who died with him.

Some historians believe that Maserfeld was in Shropshire and others believe that it was in the Winwick area. In a field opposite Red Bank there is an area called St. Oswald’s Well. His feast day is 5th August.


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