If visiting the home of a Lincolnshire family, someone leaving a door open might be asked the unusual question “Do you come from Bardney?” This is said in a similar tone and meaning to “Were you born in a barn?” elsewhere in the country. The saying has its roots in an old tale about a miraculous occurrence at Bardney Abbey.
Queen Osrthyth of Mercia, in around 679 AD, sought to have the bones of her uncle, St. Oswald, a former king of Northumbria, interred at Bardney Abbey, a place the queen held very dear. The monks of Bardney, however, refused to accept the relics as Oswald had once invaded and conquered the Kingdom of Lindsey, which included Bardney.
The monks left the relics of St. Oswald outside, bolting the heavy wooden doors of the abbey to prevent them being taken indoors. That night, however, they were amazed to see a great shaft of light rising from St. Oswald’s bier and stretching up to the heavens. The abbot declared this a miracle and willingly brought St. Oswald’s bones into the abbey where they were given pride of place beneath the king’s purple and gold standard. The relics were said to have healing properties, including the ability to cure ague.
In 909, as a result of increasing Viking raids in Lincolnshire, the relics of St. Oswald were transferred to a new abbey in Gloucestershire, named St. Oswald’s in his honour.