Much recent work has emphasized the coastal and estuarine situation of the early Northumbrian monasteries, their being well placed for sea communication, and their role as trading centres, confirmed, for example, by the large number of sceatta coins found at Whitby.(99) Whitby, Hartlepool and Lindisfarne, the latter possessing `a fine natural harbour and a strategic anchorage', were all flourishing monastic houses in 664 and all coastally located.(100) Other Northumbrian seaboard monasteries -- Coldingham and Tynemouth -- were founded at unknown dates in the seventh century,(101) and others again -- Wearmouth and Jarrow -- post-dated the first plague.
Luxury goods found on rural sites -- a cowrie shell at Puddlehill in Bedfordshire, north French pottery at Chalton in Hampshire -- suggest wealth, exchange, and more than subsistence agriculture;(117) sceatta finds at hillforts point to the marketing of livestock;(118) the warriors who travelled in search of ring-giving kings are likely to have moved from one royal vill or high-status site to another;(119) bishops, if they did their duty, took the Gospel into remote countryside;(120) a travelling Briton, passing through a settlement, could join the locals in a feast.(121) There were a dozen forms of mobility to provide the putative means of transport for the infected fleas of bubonic plague and to link separated settlements via the infected humans of pneumonic plague.
Whitby and Jarrow, with their sceatta coins and craft products, may be cases in point.(126) At others, the reputation of a saint's shrine such as Cuthbert's might be expected to draw in `fugitives and guilty men', probably more intent on sanctuary than religious experience.(127) Of course, not all regions were thickly planted with monasteries and not all monasteries filled all these functions.
That artefact is the sceatta, the commonest of all Anglo-Saxon coins.
Ond ic waes mid Eormanrice ealle prage, paer me Gotena cyning gode dohte; se me beag forgeaf, burgwarena fruma, on pam siex hund waes smaetes goldes, gescyred sceatta
scillingrime; pone ic Eadgilse on aeht sealde, minum hleodryhtne, pa ic to ham bicwom, leofum to leane, paes pe he me lond forgeaf, mines faeder epel, frea Myrginga.