Oswine of Deira

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Oswine of Deira
Saint Oswine.jpg
King, Martyr
Born Unknown
Died 20 August, 651

Gilling, Yorkshire, England
Venerated in Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Anglican Communion
Major shrine Tynemouth, England
Feast 20 August

Oswine, Oswin or Osuine (died 20 August 651) was a King of Deira in northern England.


Oswine succeeded King Oswald of Northumbria, probably around the year 644, after Oswald's death at the Battle of Maserfield.[1] Oswine was the son of Osric. His succession, perhaps the choice of the people of Deira,[2] split the Kingdom of Northumbria. Oswiu was the successor of Bernicia to the north.[3]

After seven years of peaceful rule, Oswiu declared war on Oswine. Oswine refused to engage in battle, instead retreating to Gilling and the home of his friend, Earl Humwald.[4] Humwald betrayed Oswine, delivering him to Oswiu's soldiers by whom Oswine was put to death.[5]


In Anglo-Saxon culture, it was assumed that the nearest kinsmen to a murdered person would seek to avenge the death or require some other kind of justice on account of it (such as the payment of wergild: a sum of money paid to the relatives of a slain man on account of the killing). However, Oswine's nearest kinsman was Oswiu's own wife. Oswiu was also related to the slain. In order to confront the justice that was seen to be owed for the murder, Oswiu founded a monastery partly staffed by the relatives of both of their families, and this monastery was given the task of offering prayers for both Oswiu's salvation and Oswine's departed soul. It was from the same monastery, many years later, that Oswine was later claimed to be a saint. [6]

Oswine is one of many Anglo-Saxon royals who were honoured in monasteries and developed cults as saints. Another example is Edward the Martyr.

Oswine was buried at Tynemouth, but the place of burial was later forgotten. It is said that his burial place was made known by an apparition to a monk named Edmund,[2] and his relics were translated to an honorable place in Tynemouth Priory in 1065. There was a cult of Saint Oswin as a Christian martyr because he had died "if not for the faith of Christ, at least for the justice of Christ".

St. Oswin's Church, Wylam

St Oswins, Wylam, Northumberland

The Anglican Parish Church of Wylam, Northumberland, England is dedicated to Saint Oswin. The church was built in 1886 and currently has a congregation of about 150. The church has a peal of 6 bells (in the tower) and has regular Sunday services with ringing.

Our Lady & St. Oswin's Church, Tynemouth

St. Oswin is co-patron (with Our Lady) of the Catholic parish of Tynemouth with a church at the end of Front Street not far from the ruins of the priory where Oswin was buried.


  1. ^ Turner, Joseph. Ancient Bingley: Or, Bingley, Its History and Scenery. University of California Libraries. p. 34. Retrieved 5 May 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Parker, Anselm. "St. Oswin." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 28 Mar. 2013
  3. ^ "St. Oswin, King of Deira (AD -AD 651)". Britannia.com. Britannia.com, LLC. Retrieved 5 May 2015. 
  4. ^ Strutt, Joseph. From the Arrival of Julius Caesar to the End of the Saxon Heptarchy. Joseph Cooper. p. 139. Retrieved 5 May 2015. 
  5. ^ Hutchinson, William. The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham (Volume 1 ed.). p. 9. Retrieved 5 May 2015. 
  6. ^ Studies in the Early history of Shaftesbury Abbey, Dorset County Council, 1999


  • Bede, Historia Ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, ed. and tr. B. Colgrave and R.A.B. Mynors, Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People. Oxford, 1969.
  • Anonymous, Vita Oswini (twelfth century), ed. James Raine, Miscellanea Biographica. Publications of the Surtees Society 8. London, 1858. 1-59. PDF available from Internet Archive.

Further reading

  • Chase, Colin. "Beowulf, Bede, and St. Oswine: The Hero's Pride in Old English Hagiography." The Anglo-Saxons. Synthesis and Achievement, ed. J. Douglas Woods and David A.E. Pelteret. Waterloo (Ontario), 1985. 37-48. Reprinted in The Beowulf Reader, ed. Peter S. Baker. New York and London, 2000. 181-93.

External links

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