Hartlepool and the North East
The namestones in this collection come from two different sites in the North East, Hartlepool and Billingham, which were some of the most important religious sites in northern England.
Established just a few years after Lindisfarne, Hartlepool was run by women and was home to both monks and nuns, with a village built around it.
Its founding abbess, Hieu, is said to be one of the first in charge of a double monastery and her successor, Hilda, is described as a brilliant and energetic leader whose advice was sought by kings. She went on to become one of the most influential figures in the Christian conversion of the Anglo Saxons, and abbess of the famous Whitby Abbey.
Today, all that survives of Hartlepool are the faint outlines of some wooden buildings and the cemetery where many of the bodies were found facing north to south – unusual for a Christian burial.