To the thirty-three-year gap between Aldfrith and Eadberht (704-737), can be allotted the wide variety of Southumbrian and Continental types found in Northumbria, allowing the possibility that some types (e.g. some varieties of Series J and arguably the ‘fledgling’ type) may have been minted locally and that others were imitated contemporaneously. What may also contribute to the replacement of local issues by imported currency during this period - the Golden Age of Northumbria - is, arguably, a favourable balance of payments. This probably now consisted mainly of sheep or wool as slave trading is more likely to be associated with the expansionism of the seventh century.
Aldfrith’s one weakness was his succession. His marriage to the ascetic Cuthburg, sister of Ine of Wessex, resulted in the birth of Osred in 696, before Cuthburg entered the monastery of Winburn.
After Aldfrith’s death, Berhtfrith, a patricus and warrior thane (of the dynasty of BeornhÊth and Berhtred) undertook the guardianship of Osred and immediately faced a challenge from a rival thane Eadwulf, who usurped the throne for two months until Wilfrid pronounced in favour of Osred. Eadwulf’s usurpation was a decisive watershed in Northumbrian succession for now ostensibly legitimate scions could be challenged by warrior thanes. Future monarchs could not achieve the greatness of their illustrious predecessors and Northumbria would never regain its pre-eminence. Seventh-century Northumbrian monarchs typically died in battle; their eighth-century successors usually perished as the result of internecine strife, though this friction may also have been a driving force under the unifying influence of the archiepiscopacy. Despite this, the Golden Age, at least in some artistic and literary fields, was to continue until the catastrophe of 867, when York fell to the Viking Great Army.
In 711, Berhtfrith inflicted a defeat on the Picts but unfortunately by 716, Osred proved to be incompetent and dissolute, and was eventually lured by his kinsfolk, Coenred and Osric, to a bloody demise, probably on the Mercian border. Coenred acceded for two years but was little better than Osred. In 718, the obscure Osric succeeded for a period of 11 years. He adopted Ceolwulf, Coenred’s brother, as his successor in 729.
Ceolwulf proved an ineffectual, monkish, king. In 731, he was kidnapped by rebellious thanes and forcibly tonsured. Having made substantial endowments to Lindisfarne, he abdicated there in 737 and survived a further 27 years. He nominated his cousin Eadberht as his successor.
From the Spink catalogue (#21050) for the second part of the Abramson Collection sale.