In about 679, Bede, a boy of seven, was presented by his family as an oblate to the monastery of Wearmouth, Northumbria. He spent the rest of his life as a monk, first at Wearmouth, and later at Jarrow, five miles away. Using the monastic library he became 'the most learned man in Western Europe', and one of the most influential on future generations. He read, and wrote, in a wide variety of fields--natural science, mathematics, and astronomy, grammar, rhetoric, geography, history, hagiography, theology, and above all interpretation of Holy Scripture. Bede combined his great learning with sanctity and a personal charm which still shines through his writings. His command of the Fathers of the Church and profane knowledge belie the name commonly given his age; despite invasions, privations, and limitations, Bede demonstrates that one corner of the European north was far from dark.