Yeavering: Sparrow Flight


Source: OxfordArch Digital 

This image depicts a sparrow in flight across Yeavering to provide us with a bird's eye view. The analogy of a sparrow flying through a Great Hall was first documented by Bede (II.13). Paulinus had tried to persuade Edwin to become a Christian, but Edwin wished to consult his advisers and friends. This was the advice of one counsellor after hearing the chief Priest Coifi recommend that Edwin follow the new Christian religion:  "Another of the king's chief men signified his agreement with this prudent argument, and went on to say: 

'Your Majesty, when we compare the present life of man on earth with that time of which we have no knowledge, it seems to me like the swift flight of a single sparrow through the banqueting-hall where you are sitting at dinner on a winter's day with your thegns and counsellors. In the midst there is a comforting fire to warm the hall; outside, the storms of winter rain or snow are raging. This sparrow flies swiftly in through one door of the hall, and out through another. While he is inside, he is safe from the winter storms; but after a few moments of comfort, he vanishes from sight into the wintry world from which he came. Even so, man appears on earth for a little while; but of what went before this life or of what follows, we know nothing. Therefore, if this new teaching has brought any more certain knowledge, it seems only right that we should follow it.' 

The other elders and counselors of the king, under God's guidance, gave similar advice."