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nunneries. In the early Anglo-Saxon period, monastic life for women was almost always in double houses, of which Theodore disapproved. In most of these, monks and nuns shared a church, though at Wimborne (Dorset) each group had its own church. An abbess ruled over the community. She was often of royal or noble birth and for centuries nunneries remained places for aristocratic women. Hilda of Whitby was related to King Oswiu of Northumbria and Wimborne was founded by two sisters of King Ine. The first double monastery was probably at Hartlepool, since Hilda is said to have modelled her foundation at Whitby upon it, c.650. In the largest of these houses at Wimborne, there were said to have been 500 nuns in the early 8th cent., and Shaftesbury, Wilton, Winchester, Romsey, and Amesbury were all flourishing foundations.

A number of double monasteries were destroyed during the Viking incursions, and when the monastic revival developed in the 10th cent. single houses were in favour. The second Council of Nicaea in 787 forbade the foundation of double monasteries. By 1275 there were ten Saxon nunneries surviving in England and Wales, and another 118 had been founded since the Conquest. After 1275 only another ten nunneries were established, including the famous one by the Thames at Syon, endowed by Henry V in 1414. Of the total of 138 nunneries between 1275 and 1535, well over half were Benedictine; there were 28 Cistercian nunneries, 18 Augustinian, 4 Franciscan, 2 Cluniac, and 2 Premonstratensian. In Scotland there were a dozen or so nunneries, mainly Cistercian, and in Ireland about ten of the 140 monasteries were nunneries, all of them for regular canonesses. By the time of the dissolution, there were some 125 English nunneries still in existence, sheltering about 2,000 women.

Sandra M. Dunkin

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Amesbury (āmz´bərē), town, Wiltshire, S central England. The town is among the oldest continuously settled locations in Great Britain. In 980 the widow of King Edgar founded Amesbury Abbey, where Queen Guinevere of Arthurian legend is said to have died. Stonehenge, the best-known megalithic monument in Britain, is nearby.

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Amesbury (āmz´bĕr´ē, –bərē), town (1990 pop. 14,997), Essex co., NE Mass., on the Merrimack River; inc. 1668. The town's economy relies on light manufacturing. John Greenleaf Whittier lived there most of his life, and his house is preserved. Josiah Bartlett was born in Amesbury.