Near the 7th century, an Irish monk named Maeldulph or,
more properly, Maeldubh, became a voluntary exile from the land of his nativity
and took up his abode among the solitudes of the vast forests which then covered
the north-eastern districts of Wiltshire. He seems to have formed himself a cell
nestled in a hillside near the Saxon Royal palace of Ingelburne.
Maeldulph, after living for a short time as a hermit,
found it necessary to secure for himself a less precarious subsistence by
instructing the youths of the neighbouring districts. Thus, the hermitage
became, gradually, a seat of learning and continued to be inhabited by
Maeldulph's scholars after his death. People gave, to the place, the name of
Maeldulph's bury, which, softened down into Malmesbury, it still retains; and
the town's great abbey, established under St.
Aldhelm, became the successor of these humble beginnings.
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