The braids which form the subject of this study were found with a stole and maniple on the body of St. Cuthbert when the tomb was opened in 1827. The vestments are embroidered in coloured silks and gold thread: the stole with figures of prophets, and the maniple with those of saints. Both have an inscription embroidered on the ends, with the names of the donor, Ælflæda, and the ‘pious Bishop Fridestan’ for whom they were worked. Fridestan became the Bishop of Winchester in A.D. 905 and Ælflæda, second wife of Edward the Elder, son of Alfred the Great, died in A.D. 916, so that the gift must have been made between these dates. It is further probable that this stole and maniple are identical with those recorded as having been presented to the shrine of St. Cuthbert (then at Chester-le-Street) by King Athelstan, stepson of Queen Ælflæda, in A.D. 934. Fridestan had died in 931, and this circumstance, together with the close connexion of the king's family with Winchester, supports the story.
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