Bede tells the story of Cædmon in his Ecclesiastical History (in Latin, Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum), Book 4, Chapter 24, written in 731. According to Bede, Cædmon lived on the monastic estate of Whitby during the time of Abbess Hild (d. 680). Bede gives no account of Cædmon's early life, and the only clues to his class and race are his name, which is British rather than Anglo-Saxon, and his work as a herdsman: both of these indicate that he was low-born. The story tells us that though Cædmon was of mature years, he had never learned the art of singing songs; so when there was a party, he left before he was asked to take his turn at singing. On one occasion when he did this, he went to sleep in the cattle-…

Please log in to consult the article in its entirety. If you are not a subscriber, please click here to read about membership. All our articles have been written recently by experts in their field, more than 95% of them university professors.

Citation:
Cavill, Paul. "Caedmon". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 20 September 2002
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=688, accessed 18 April 2014.]