Hild, Saint
Alternate Name:
Hilda. Hild is probably an incomplete name. Her full name has not survived.
Birth Date:
Death Date:
Elmet (needs verification). She was born while her parents were in exile. Her father was assassinated there before her birth
Location of Work:
Whitby (earlier known as Streanæshalch), Hartlepool , and Hackness. Her influence spread throughout Northumbria and beyond.

Royal family of Deira.

Hereric, grandson of King Ælle of Deira
It is likely that Hild was a widow when she entered the church at age 33.

Ælfflaed (see "Other Family Members," below) may have been considered Hild's foster-daughter.

Other Family:

Hild's sister Hereswitha married Æthelric of East Anglia and their child was King Aldwulf of East Anglia. Hereswitha retired to the Frankish monastery of Chelles in the early 640s. King Edwin of Deira/Northumbria was her great uncle. Her cousins included King Oswine of Deira, Abbot Trumhere of Gelling and later Bishop of Mercia, Queen Eanflæd of Bernicia and Eanflæd's children Ecgfrith King of Bernicia/Northumbria, Ælfwine King of Deira, Osthryth Queen of Mercia, and Ælfflæd Hild's successor as Abbess of Whitby.


St. Aidan, Bishop of Lindisfarne, paid special attention to Hild's instruction. Although she accepted the decision of the Synod of Whitby in 664, she was fiercely devoted to the familia of Lindisfarne and its teachings for the rest of her life.

Social Status:

Abbess, Monastic founder, Saint.


Whitby, Hartlepool , and Hackness. May have also founded another monastery on the north shore of the River Wear.

Religious Titles:

Abbess, Saint

Religious Roles:

Hild's Whitby was notable as the major teaching monastery of Northumbria. Whitby under Hild's direction trained five bishops: Bosa (of York), Aetla (of Dorchester), Oftfor (of the Hwicce), John of Beverly (Bishop of Hexham and York), Wilfrid II (of York), and Tatfrith who was elected as bishop of the Hwicce but died before his consecration. She also administered over the training of the poet Cædmon and her cousin Ælfflaed who succeeded her as Abbess of Whitby.

Ecclesiastical Relationships:

Hild was closely associated with the Bishops of Lindisfarne prior to the Synod of Whitby in 664. After the synod, Whitby took a leading role in the opposition to Bishop Wilfrid (Wilfrith). In this action, she was in alliance with Archbishop Theodore of Canterbury. Late in Hild's life, one of her pupils, Bosa, became Bishop of Deira/York replacing Wilfrid. After her death, two other men from Whitby, John of Beverly and Wilfrid II, also became bishops in Northumbria.

Secular Affiliations:

Kinswoman of the royal houses of both Deria and Bernicia in Northumbria. She was succeeded as Abbess by her cousins Eanflaed, who retired to Whitby in 670 when she was widowed, and Ælfflaed.

Feast Day:
November 17, celebrated at York on the f
Charitable Works:
Few reports survive of Hild's actual deeds survive. It is believed that she was active in the pastoral duties to the community around Whitby. Hild was praised for her wisdom and motherly affection. Bede claimed all who knew her called her
Bio. Essay Link:
Brief Profile:

Hild was born in 614 while her parents were in exile. Her father was assassinated before her birth in British Elmet. She returned to Deira when her great uncle Edwin became king in 616. She was educated under the personal direction of Bishop Aidan. In 648/9, she became Abbess of Hartlepool in Deira. Nine years later, Abbess Hild and Ælfflæd moved to Whitby which was to become her main foundation, a double monastery. In 664, Whitby was chosen as the site of the most important synod in Northumbrian (Bernician and Deiran) history. The synod pitted King Oswiu (of Bernicia/Northumbria), Bishop Colman of Lindisfarne, Abbess Hild, and Bishop Cedd arguing for retaining Irish church practices (and loyalty to Iona) against King Alhfrith of Deira, Queen Eanflæd of Bernicia, Bishop Agilbert and the priests Wilfrid, Agatho, Romanus and James who successfully argued for the adoption of Roman practices (and loyalty to Rome via Canterbury). According to Bede, she died after a seven year illness in 680. In the last year of her life, she continued to build her monastic family, founding the monastery of Hackness in 679.

Michelle Ziegler
Community ID Global:
Biography ID Global: