In the 8th century, the monastery of Saint Paul in Jarrow was the home of Bede, who is regarded as the greatest Anglo-Saxon scholar and the father of English history. From the middle of the 19th century until 1935, Jarrow was a centre for shipbuilding, and was the starting point of the Jarrow March against unemployment in 1936. Jarrow had a population of 43,431 in 2011.
The Angles re-occupied a 1st-century Roman fort on the site of Jarrow in the 5th century. Its name is recorded around AD 750 as Gyruum, representing Old English Gyrwum = " the marsh dwellers", from Anglo-Saxon gyr = "mud", "marsh". Later spellings are Jaruum in 1158, and Jarwe in 1228. Today Jarrow residents' popular nickname for Jarrow is "Jarra".
The monastery of Saint Paul in Jarrow, part of the twin foundation Monkwearmouth-Jarrow Priory, was once the home of the Venerable Bede, whose most notable works include The Ecclesiastical History of the English People and the translation of the Gospel of John into Old English. Along with the abbey at Wearmouth, Jarrow became a center of learning and had the largest library north of the Alps, primarily due to the widespread travels of Benedict Biscop, its founder. In 794 Jarrow became the second target in England of the Vikings, who had plundered Lindisfarne in 793. The monastery was later dissolved by Henry VIII. The ruins of the monastery are now associated with and partly built into the present-day church of St. Paul, which stands on the site. One wall of the church contains the oldest stained-glass window in the world, dating from about AD 600. Just beside the monastery is "Bede's World", a working museum dedicated to the life and times of Bede. Bede's World also incorporates Jarrow Hall, a grade II listed building and significant local landmark.
A much under publicised fact is that the world's oldest complete Bible, written in Latin and to be presented to the then Pope (Gregory II) was produced at this monastery – 'the Codex Amiatinus' – which is currently safeguarded in the Laurentian Library, Florence, Italy.
Originally three copies of the Bible were commissioned by Saint Ceolfrid in 692. This date has been established as the double monastery of Wearmouth-Jarrow secured a grant of additional land to raise the 2000 head of cattle needed to produce the vellum for the Bible's pages. Saint Ceolfrid accompanied one copy (originally intended for Gregory I) on its journey to be presented to Gregory II, but he died en route to Rome. The book later appears in the 9th century in the Abbey of the Saviour, Monte Amiata in Tuscany (hence the description "Amiatinus"), where it remained until 1786 when it passed to the Laurentian Library in Florence.