He was killed with an arrow by Vikings from the Great Heathen Army in 869. He was trying to convert them to Christianity, and they were trying to do the opposite, so, fed up, they tied him to a tree, shot him full of arrows and then beheaded him.
Afterwards, the English set up a search party for him, and as they passed nearby the head shouted ‘Here.Here. Here.’ So they were able to retrieve his head. His remains were eventually taken to Bury which was named Bury St Edmunds after him and which became one of the most famous places of pilgrimage in England.
As a Royal martyr he was, with St Edward the Confession, the saint of the monarchy. Being Kings themselves they could explain to St Peter why the King had to undertake actions which might be strictly against the Ten Commandments, and thus speed the King through to heaven from purgatory.
The City of London has a church dedicated to St Edmund, King and Martyr. It is in Lombard Street, by coincidence right above the South West corner of the Roman Forum. First mentioned in 1292, and rebuilt by Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of London.
November 20th Also the day to grow garlic
Set garlic and beans, at St Edmund the KingQuoted in Perpetual Almanac of Folklore Charles Kightly
The moon in the wane, therefore hangeth a thing.
Garlic ….. mingled with soft cheese ‘stauncheth’ the falling down of humours called catarrh and so is good against hoarseness’.William Turner Herbal 1568
First Published Nov 20th 2022. Republished Nov 20th 2023