Aldhun

, the first bishop of Durham, was promoted to that see in the year 990, being the twelfth of the reign of king Ethelred. He was of a noble family 5 but, according to Simeon of Durham, more ennobled by his virtues and religious deportment. He sat about six years in the | see of Lindisfarne, or Holy Island in Northumberland, during which time that island was frequently exposed to the incursions of the Danish pirates. This made him think of removing from thence; though Simeon of Durham says, he was persuaded by an admonition from heaven. However, taking with him the body of St. Cuthbert, which had been buried there about 113 years, and accompanied by all the monks and the rest of the people, he went away from Holy Island; and after wandering about some time, at last settled with his followers at Dunelm, now called Durham, where he gave rise both to the city and cathedral church. Before his arrival, Dunelm consisted only of a few scattered huts or cottages. The spot of ground was covered with a very thick wood, which the bishop, with the assistance of the people that followed him, made a shift to cut down, and clear away. After he had assigned the people their respective habitations by lot, he began to build a church of stone; which he finished in three years time, and dedicated to St. Cuthbert, placing in it the body of that saint. From that time the episcopal see, which had been placed at Lindisfarne by bishop Aidan (see Aidan), remained fixed at Durham; and the cathedral church was soon endowed with considerable benefactions by king Ethelred, and other great men.

Aldhun had a daughter named Ecgfrid, whom he gave in marriage to Ucthred, son of Waltheof earl of Northumberland, and with her, six towns belonging to the episcopal see, upon condition that he should never divorce her. But that young lord afterwards repudiating her, with a view to a nobler alliance, Aldhun received back the church lands he had given with her. This prelate educated king Ethelred’s two sons, Alfred and Edward; and, when their father was driven from his throne by Swane, king of Denmark, he conducted them, together with queen Emma, into Normandy, to duke Richard the queen’s brother. This was in the year 1017, a little before bishop Aldhun’s death; for the next year, the English having received a terrible overthrow in a battle with the Scots, the good bishop was so affected with the news, that he died a few days after, having enjoyed the prelacy twenty-nine years. RaduU phus de Diceto calls this bishop Alfhunus, and bishop Godwin, Aldwinus. 1

1 Biog. Brit, but more fully in Hutchinson’s Hist, of Durham, vo!. I Gen. Dict.
|