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Among Anglo-Saxonists, however, the typical reaction went: “Well, Bede will be spinning in his grave.” The Venerable Bede (c.673-735 AD) lived at Monkwearmouth and Jarrow. He is one of the most influential figures in English Christianity: the fact that I’m writing this in 2016, not “the 65th year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth and the third year of the pontificate of Pope Francis” is largely thanks to Bede’s popularisation of the anno domini method of dating.

Bede, was a devoted student of Computus – the calculation of the date of Easter – which brought together his interests in history, theology and astronomy.

The system required a thorough understanding of the movements of the cosmos, an appreciation of religious symbolism (including the relationship between Easter and the Jewish Passover) and a detailed knowledge of the history of Christianity.

Bede’s writings also played a part in the formation of the English nation.

When the Anglo-Saxons arrived in Britain, they established multiple kingdoms and sub-kingdoms within the regions that we now call England.

Irish missionaries came across via Iona and began to convert the north of England to Christianity.

Roman missionaries came up to Kent and began to convert the English there.

Hannah Mc Kendrick Bailey does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.

The Conversation UK receives funding from Hefce, Hefcw, SAGE, SFC, RCUK, The Nuffield Foundation, The Ogden Trust, The Royal Society, The Wellcome Trust, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and The Alliance for Useful Evidence, as well as sixty five university members.

View the full list The Church of England has attracted controversy over its evolving policies on issues such as homosexuality and the ordination of women.

By comparison, the recent announcement that the Anglican Communion intends to fix an annual date for Easter – in cooperation with the Catholic, Orthodox and Coptic Churches – has met with little comment.

Eventually, as Bede tells us in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People, all the English kingdoms were brought together into one unified church.

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