Peterborough Cathedral
Peterborough Cathedral - Photo © Ron Hann, April 1994

It has been sugested (Lejeune 1966 ; Henri Prentout 1921) that Turold, depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry can be identified as Turold, Abbot of Peterborough.

Abbot Brand died November1069 and Turold was appointed Abbot of Petersborough in April 1070.

Turold, a form of the Danish Thorold, is the name borne by the English Sheriff who is recorded as a benefactor of the priory of Spalding. The new Abbot is spoken of as a very stern man, and the known details of his earlier history fully bear out the character. He was a monk of Fecamp, who had been placed by William over the abbey of Malmesbury, its English Abbot Brihtric having been translated backwards to the less important abbey of Burton. His rule at Malmesbury was tyrannical. William had picked him out, as being more of a soldier than a monk, and as the fittest man to rule the great house of Peterborough, now that it was threatened by Hereward and his fellow outlaws. Turold now came at the head of an armed force of Frenchmen to take possession of his monastery.

He had reached Stamford, when he heard of the state in which he was likely to find the house over which he was set to rule. In the eyes of English outlaws, a monastery under the command of a Norman Abbot, especially of an Abbot who came surrounded by a foreign military force, was looked upon as the enemy. The news came to the monks of Peterborough that a motley force, made up of outlaws, of their own men, and of the Danish allies, was coming to harry the monastery.

This, was Hereward, nephew of the late English Abbot Brand, and his gang. While the gang was on its march, a prudent churchward, Yware by name, took out of the minster books and other treasures in order to preserve them from robbery. He then sent word to Turold, that the outlaws were coming. The outlaws now looked on the monks as traitors. The outlaws came with many ships, and they set fire to the monks' houses and to the whole town, and all was burned save one house. They made their way through the Bolhithe Gate, the southern gate of the monastery. The whole band, outlaws, Danes, and vassals, whether loyal or rebellious, burst into the minster. They climbed up to the great rood and carried off its ornaments of gold; they climbed up the steeple, and carried off the gold and silver pastoral staff which was hidden there. Shrines, roods, books, vestments, coined money, treasures of every kind, were carried away to the ships and were taken to Ely.

Presently came Abbot Turold with a hundred and sixty armed Frenchmen. The enemy had already set sail, and he found only the one sick monk, and the empty church standing in the midst of the blackened ruins of the monastery. But the brethren gradually came together again, and divine service was again begun in the minster after ceasing for one week.


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