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Information on the village of Yetholm, near Kelso in Scotland.
St Etheldreda's Chapel
On the Border, close to Yetholm Mains, at Humbleton Sike there was a chapel dedicated to St Etheldreda the Virgin. Although still marked on the latest Ordinance Survey maps, there is, alas, nothing now to be seen. As with so many stories from times past, there is a story and the facts, and the two seem at variance. We know that she was an Anglian princess, who, her first husband having died, was given by her father to Ecfrith, King of Northumbria. According to Bede, as a result, she took a vow of perpetual virginity at this time, which according to the legend she kept till she died. After twelve years of a celibate marriage, she managed to persuade her husband to let her go to join the convent at St Abbs. There she remained for some time before going to Ely and eventually becoming the Abbess.
The story may seem far-fetched, but it was accepted in those days that if a man's wife went into a convent, he was free to marry again. This Ecfith, in fact, did, but he remained childless.
There is on the boundary of the parish a place known as 'Eccles Cairn'. This word 'Eccles', which also appears in other place names in the border area, is evidence of there being an established Christian presence in area at the time of the settlement by the Anglians in the middle 6th century. This appears at about the same time as the development of the Anglian shire system in the area. According to Professor Barrow there was a lost shire at Yetholm.
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