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Dr Clare Stancliffe


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Member of the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies  


In 2000 I was made an Honorary Reader in Ecclesiastical History in the Departments of History and of Theology & Religion. I originally came to Durham in 1981 and was made an Honorary Lecturer in the Theology Department the following year. I have also held a Research Fellowship in the History Department (1984-86), and taught in both departments at undergraduate and postgraduate levels on topics which include the early Irish church and Christian Northumbria 600-800. The latter is an MATR module. My interests range widely from late antiquity to the early medieval west, especially Ireland and Northumbria between the late sixth and early eighth centuries. This was the conversion period, and I am interested in exploring the ways in which Christianity, accompanied by literacy and a knowledge of Latin, interacted with the native culture and society of the Irish and of the Anglo-Saxons. Ireland is particularly interesting here, and has been less studied. One of my current long-term projects is a book on seventh-century Irish saints' Lives, set against the background of the development of hagiography on the Continent (to be published by the Oxford University Press). A second, concurrent, research interest is the question of what lay behind the clash at this period between churchmen representing a Roman standpoint and those in Britain and Ireland who clung to their own traditions, particularly as regards the dating of Easter. My interest here lies not in the methods used to calculate Easter, but rather in the repercussions of the controversy: the way in which it was raised to the status of a heresy, and how Bede has erected a smokescreen to obscure the bitterest parts of the controversy (see, for instance, my Jarrow Lecture for 2003, Bede, Wilfrid, and the Irish). This has also led me to probe further the question of relations between the Anglo-Saxons and the Britons, and of Bede's attitudes towards the Britons (Bede and the Britons, the Whithorn Lecture for 2005, forthcoming). My interest in this period was first sparked when I was an undergraduate at Oxford, reading History. I remained in Oxford to do a D.Phil. thesis on Sulpicius Severus's hagiographical writings about St Martin. This was completed while I was a Research Fellow at Newnham College, Cambridge, and was subsequently published by Oxford University Press (St Martin and his Hagiographer, Oxford 1983). From Cambridge I moved to Newcastle-upon-Tyne where I held a Research Fellowship in the History Department, investigating early Irish spirituality (cf. my 'Red, White and Blue Martyrdom'), and getting interested in the question of conversion ('The Christianisation of the Touraine' and 'Kings and Conversion'). This was followed by my move to Durham, where my interest in early Irish spirituality led to my working on Columbanus and his sermons ('The thirteen sermons attributed to Columbanus and the question of their authorship'). At the same time anniversaries of prominent Northumbrian saints led to my co-organising conferences on St Cuthbert in 1987 and King/Saint Oswald in 1992, and co-editing the papers as books.

Research interests

  • Early Irish Church
  • Christianity in Britain, especially Northumbria, to c. 800
  • Relations between the Britons and Anglo-Saxons in the early middle ages
  • Early western hagiography


Chapter in book

  • Stancliffe, Clare (Published). Columbanus and Shunning: The Irish peregrinus between Gildas, Gaul, and Gregory. In Columbanus and the Peoples of Post-Roman Europe. O'Hara, Alexander Oxford University Press. 113-142.
  • Stancliffe, Clare (2020). Bede and Bishop Acca. In Cities, Saints and Communities in Early Medieval Europe: Essays in Honour of Alan Thacker. DeGregorio, Scott & Kershaw, Paul Brepols. pp. 171-194.
  • Stancliffe, Clare (2018). Columbanus and Shunning: The Irish peregrinus between Gildas, Gaul, and Gregory. In Columbanus and the Peoples of post-Roman Europe. O'Hara, Alexander Oxford University Press. 113-142.
  • Stancliffe, Clare (2017). The Irish Tradition in Northumbria after the Synod of Whitby. In The Lindisfarne Gospels: New Perspectives. Gameson, Richard Leiden Boston: Brill. 19-42.
  • Stancliffe, Clare (2017). The Riddle of the Ruthwell Cross: Audience, Intention and Originator Reconsidered. In Crossing Boundaries: Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Art, Material Culture, Language and LIterauture of the Early Medieval World. Essays presented to Professor Emeritus Richard N. Bailey, OBE, in honour of his eightieth birthday. Cambridge, Eric & Hawkes, Jane Oxbow Books. 3-14.
  • Stancliffe, Clare (2013). Dating Wilfrid's Death and Stephen's Life. In Wilfrid: Abbot, Bishop, and Saint: Papers from the 1300th Anniversary Conferences. Higham, N. J. Paul Watkins. 17-26.
  • Stancliffe, Clare (2011). Columbanus's Monasticism and the Sources of his Inspiration: From Basil to the Master? In Tome: Studies in Medieval Celtic History and Law in Honour of Thomas Charles-Edwards. Edmonds, Fiona & Russell, Paul Boydell and Brewer. 17-28.
  • Stancliffe, Clare (2010). 'Charity with Peace': Adomnan and the Easter Question. In Adomnan of Iona: Theologian, Lawmaker, Peacemaker. Wooding, Jonathan M. Four Courts Press. 51-68.
  • Stancliffe, Clare (2010). British and Irish Contexts. In The Cambridge Companion to Bede. DeGregorio, Scott Cambridge University Press. 69-83.
  • Stancliffe, Clare (2007). Adomnan of Iona and his prose writings. In The Edinburgh History of Scottish Literature: From Columba to the Union. Brown, Ian, Clancy, Thomas & Pittock, Murray 1: 110-114.
  • Stancliffe, C. E. (2006). Columbanus and the Gallic bishops. In Auctoritas: Mélanges offerts à Olivier Guillot. Constable, G. & Rouche, M. Paris: Presses Universitaires de Paris - Sorbonne. 205-215.
  • Stancliffe, Clare (2005). Christianity amongst the Britons, Dalriadan Irish, and the Picts. In The New Cambridge Medieval History. Fouracre, Paul Cambridge University Press. 1: 426-461.
  • Stancliffe, C. E. (2005). Religion and society in Ireland. In The New Cambridge Medieval History, volume I c. 500 - c. 700. Fouracre, P. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1: 397-425.
  • Stancliffe, Clare (2004). Patrick, St. In The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Matthew, Colin & Harrison, B. Oxford University Press.
  • Stancliffe, C. E. (2001). Jonas's 'Life of Columbanus and His Disciples'. In Studies in Irish Hagiography: Saints and Scholars. Carey, J., Herbert, M. & Ó Riain, P. Dublin: Four Courts Press. 189-220.
  • Stancliffe, Clare (1997). The thirteen sermons attributed to Columbanus and the question of their authorship. In Columbanus: Studies on the Latin Writings. Lapidge, Michael Boydell and Brewer. 93-202.
  • Stancliffe, Clare (1995). Oswald, 'most holy and victorious king of the Northumbrians'. In Oswald: Northumbrian King to European Saint. Stancliffe, Clare & Cambridge, Eric Paul Watkins Publishing. 33-83.
  • Stancliffe, Clare (1995). Where was Oswald killed? In Oswald: Northumbrian King to European Saint. Stancliffe, Clare & Cambridge, Eric Paul Watkins Publishing. 84-96.
  • Stancliffe, Clare & Cambridge, Eric (1995). Introduction. In Oswald: Northumbrian King to European Saint. Stancliffe, Clare & Cambridge, Eric Paul Watkins Publishing.
  • Stancliffe, Clare (1989). Cuthbert and the Polarity between Pastor and Solitary. In St Cuthbert, his Cult and his Community to AD 1200. Bonner, Gerald, Rollason, D. W. & Stancliffe, Clare Boydell and Brewer. 21-44.
  • Stancliffe, Clare (1983). Kings who Opted Out. In Ideal and Reality in Frankish and Anglo-Saxon Society: Essays Presented to J. M. Wallace-Hadrill. Wormald, Patrick Blackwell's. 154-176.
  • Stancliffe, Clare (1982). Red, White and Blue Martyrdom. In Ireland in Early Medieval Europe. Whitelock, Dorothy, McKitterick, Rosamond & Dumville, David Cambridge University Press. 21-46.

Conference Paper

  • Stancliffe, Clare (1999), The British Church and the Mission of Augustine, in Gameson, Richard eds, St Augustine of Canterbury and the Conversion of England. Canterbury, Canterbury, 107-151.
  • Stancliffe, Clare (1975), Early "Irish" Biblical Exegesis, in Livingstone, Elizabeth eds, Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur 115: Patristic Conference. Oxford, Oxford, 361-370.

Conference Proceeding

  • Stancliffe, Clare (1992). The Miracle Stories in seventh-century Irish Saints' Lives. Le septieme siecle: changements et continuites / The Seventh Century: Change and Continuity, Warburg Institute, London.
  • Stancliffe, Clare (1979). From Town to Country: the christianisation of the Touraine 370-600. Church History Society.

Edited book

  • Stancliffe, Clare & Cambridge, Eric (1995). Oswald: Northumbrian King to European Saint. Paul Watkins Publishing.
  • Bonner, Gerald, Rollason, D.W. & Stancliffe,Clare (1989). St Cuthbert, His Cult and His Community to AD 1200. Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer.

Journal Article

  • Stancliffe, Clare (2013). Disputed Episcopacy: Bede, Acca, and the Relationship between Stephen's Life of St Wilfrid and the early prose Lives of St Cuthbert. Anglo-Saxon England 41: 7-39.
  • Stancliffe, Clare (2009). Creator and Creation: A Preliminary Investigation of Early Irish Views and their Relationship to Biblical and Patristic Traditions. Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies 58: 9-27.
  • Stancliffe, Clare (1996). Venantius Fortunatus, Ireland, Jerome: The Evidence of precamur patrem. Peritia 10: 91-97.
  • Stancliffe, Clare E. (1980). Kings and Conversion: Some Comparisons between the Roman Mission to England and Patrick's to Ireland. Fr├╝hmittelalterliche Studien 14: 59-94.


  • Stancliffe, Clare (1983). St Martin and his Hagiographer: History and Miracle in Sulpicius Severus. Oxford University Press.

Other (Print)