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Saint Bertram in Staffordshire
Saint Bertram
Saint Bertram was known as a wise and holy man but a hermit at heart

Bertram was King of the ancient borough of Mercia in the 8th Century and became one of the most interesting of Staffordshire's holy figures.

He renounced his title and heritage to dedicate his life to Christ.

Most of his life was spent in a retreat in Stafford where he offered counsel to the locals who sought spiritual advice.

His beginnings were quite unusual too, he was raised in a cave in Wetton and lived in caves in the Staffordshire Moorlands until his death.

Bertram had many religious connections with Staffordshire throughout his life.

He was also known by the names Bertelin, Bertellin and Barthelm and ruled all the land from Staffordshire to Bristol.

He travelled to Ireland because he knew that St Patrick had found religious guidance there.

Bertram ended up falling in love with an Irish princess, who he brought back to Mercia while she was pregnant.

While travelling through the Moorlands, the princess went into labour.

Saint Bertram's tomb
The tomb where Saint Bertram is buried at Ilam Church

Their child was born in the shelter of Thor's cave in Wetton, but a tragedy occurred while Bertram was hunting for food.

His wife and child were killed by wolves, and the King became so overcome with grief, he renounced his royal heritage to live a more religious life.

Bertram approached the court of Mercia but did not reveal that he was their King.

He asked for some land on which to build a hermitage - a spiritual place that isolates people from the rest of the world, so they can be closer to God. This land was granted near Stafford.

Turning stones into bread

Bertram is also linked to the village of Barthomley in present day Cheshire.

It is said that Bertram, having dedicated his life to Christ, was sought out by the devil who tempted him to turn stones into bread.

In 1516 it was said that those stones were still in the church at Barthomley - although they are no longer there.

Bertram was known in Staffordshire and Cheshire as a wise and holy man.

Many people went to him for spiritual advice, at his retreat in Stafford, but he was always a hermit at heart.

He found a cave in Ilam, in the Staffordshire Moorlands, and lived there until his death.

He was buried within Ilam Holy Cross Church and tourists still visit his grave today.

Another, but more contemporary monument to St Bertram is in the church of St. Bartholomew in Longnor in the Staffordshire Moorlands. It has a sculpture there of St. Bertram by British sculptor and Frink School graduate Harry Everington. You can see a photo of it at the top of this page.



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