Sunday, 26 August 2012

Coifi - a potted history

Coifi was a pagan priest at a temple in Goodmanham near York in the early 7th century. So what is he doing on the walls of Beverley's ever-so-Christian Minster? The story, as far as I can glean from the web, is that Edwin of Northumbria was thinking about converting to Christianity so he asked old Coifi for some advice. I paraphrase his response as paganism hasn't done us any good so why not give Christianity a go? I get the feeling he was having a mid-life crisis. Then, and here it gets a bit strange, Coifi  took off on a war stallion carrying a war-axe or a spear and a sword depending on who you believe (being a pagan priest he wasn't allowed to do any of these things), rode to the temple and threw the weapons inside. Apparently this was a big pagan no-no. Seeing that nothing untoward happened he then burned the temple down for good measure. Edwin converted to Christianity but it didn't do him much good because he was defeated by old fashioned pagans at the battle of Hatfield Chase a few years later. Anyway here is Coifi immortalised for losing his faith and a spot of arson.

You can read an extended and possibly more cogent version of this here.

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