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Dinooth, Dinothus, abbat of Bangor Iscoed

Dinooth, Dinothus, abbat of Bangor Iscoed, 253a Welsh saint, placed by Rees between a.d. 500 and 542. Originally a North British chieftain, reverses drove him into Wales, where he found a protector in Cyngen, prince of Powys. Like many other British chieftains who lost their lands in the Saxon conquest (Rees, Welsh Saints, 207), Dinooth embraced a life of religion, and, under Cyngen, founded, in conjunction with his sons, Deiniol, Cynwyl, and Gwarthan, the monastery of Bangor on the Dee, of which he was the first abbat. Bede mentions his name in his narrative of the second conference at Augustine's Oak (H. E. ii. 2), but merely says, cautiously, "Tempore illo Dinoot abbas praefuisse narratur." Bede, who wrote a century and a quarter after Augustine's time, shews no special acquaintance with the internal affairs of the Britons, and we cannot help suspecting that the present uncertainty as to the chronology of Welsh hagiology existed when Bede wrote. A later statement makes the founder of Bangor alive in a.d. 602 or 603, and brings him to the conference, though he must have been in extremest old age, and would have had a mountain journey from the Dee to the lower Severn (see D. C. A. "Augustine's Oak"; also Haddan and Stubbs, iii. 40, 41, on Augustine's journey); it even reports the speech he is said to have made in the name of the British church in answer to Augustine. For this document see Haddan and Stubbs (Councils, i. 122), where the answer is quoted in the original Welsh with Spelman's Latin translation. Two copies of the original MS. exist in the Cottonian collection. It is accepted as genuine by Leland (Tanner, Biblioth. 1748, art. "Dinotus," p. 228), Stillingfleet (Orig. Brit. i. 536), Lappenberg (Hist. of Eng. i. 135). On the other hand, the document does not mention the name of Augustine, nor allude to one subject of the conference which is markedly noted by Bede, the evangelization of the Anglo-Saxons. In fact it contains no name whatever, but is a firm and temperate repudiation of papal authority, and an assertion of the supremacy of "the bp. of Caerleon upon Usk" over the British church. For any internal evidence to the contrary, the "Answer" might have been penned in reply to some demand made upon the British church by the see of Canterbury centuries after Dinooth. It bears upon that subject, and that alone.

We know less about Dinooth than about his famous monastery upon the right bank of the Dee, 10 or 12 miles from Chester. The name of Bangor ys y coed (Bangor under the wood) distinguishes it from other Bangors, especially that of Carnarvonshire, where Deiniol, the son of Dinooth, founded another monastery, which was soon afterwards made the seat of a bishopric. So numerous were the monks of Bangor Iscoed that, as Bede puts it, on their being divided into seven parts with a ruler over each, none of those parts consisted of less than 300 men, who all lived by the labour of their hands. It thus rivalled the Irish Bangor [Comgall], and, from the learned men mentioned by Bede as residing there, must have been as much a college as a monastery. Augustine's prediction was levelled, not against this institution in particular, but the British church and people at large; "if they would not preach the way of life to the English nation, they should at their hands undergo the vengeance of death." The conjunction desired by Augustine ("una cum nobis," Bede) involved their ecclesiastical submission. "Dinooth's Answer," in recognizing this, may have appeared to some one in after-times a sufficient ground to assign the document to this occasion. The judgment came about 10 years afterwards, a.d. 613 (Ann. Cambr. and Ann. Tighern., preferable to earlier dates, as 603 of Flor. Wig. and 606 or 607 of A. S. C.; cf. Haddan and Stubbs, i. 123), when Ethelfrid, the pagan king of Northumbria, invaded the Britons at Chester. Being about to give battle, he observed their "priests," who were there to pray for the soldiers, drawn up apart in a place of greater safety, and under the military protection of prince Brocmail. They had come chiefly from Bangor, after a three days' fast. The invader, regarding them as a contingent of his enemy, attacked them first and slew about 1,200, only 50 escaping. Bede either here uses the term "sacerdotes" and "monachi" as synonymous, or the priests were in charge of the monks, leading their devotions. It was a disastrous blow to Bangor, and was naturally handed down as a fulfilment of Augustine's words; but we do not hear that the monastery itself was attacked. Some 60 years later the annalists record "Combustio Bennchoriae Brittonum" (Hadd. and St. i. 125), probably referring to this Bangor of the Dee. Malmesbury (G. R. ed. Hardy, i. 66) describes the extensive ruins of the place in his day—"tot semiruti parietes ecclesiarum, tot anfractus porticuum, tanta turba ruderum, quantum vix alibi cernas"; the credibility of which description has been almost destroyed by sometimes translating the first clause, "the ruined walls of so many churches." The remains had nearly disappeared in the time of Camden. (Camd. ed. Gough, ii. 422, 429; Smith, ad. Bed. E. H. ii. 2; Tanner, Notit. ed. Nasmith, Flint. ii.) The site is on the road between Wrexham and Whitchurch, about 5 miles from each. Its modern state and surviving vestiges are described in Lewis (Topog. Dict. of Wales, art. "Bangor"). Leland's description is in his Itinerary (vol. v. p. 30, 2nd ed. Hearne).

[C.H.]

« Dimoeritae, followers of Apollinarius Dinooth, Dinothus, abbat of Bangor Iscoed Diocletian, emperor »





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