There are several local Scottish legends associated with Aebbe. However, little of historical value is known about her and her existence has been brought into doubt by some historians.
The most often recounted legend is of Aebbe the Younger and her nuns mutilating themselves in the attempt to preserve their chastity from a pillaging Viking horde. There is no contemporary record of this event happening. The first documentary evidence of this attack dates from the 14th century writings of Matthew Paris where he gives the year of the attack as 870. However, it is believed that the monastery at Coldingham had by then been abandoned for nearly 200 years, and historians have been unable to identify any raider on the coast of south-east Scotland for that year. The legend may be the origin of the phrase 'cutting off the nose to spite the face'.
It may be that Paris confused the better known Aebbe the Elder with her pupil, Saint Etheldreda. Etheldreda, after graduating from Aebbe's tutelage, founded a religious site at Ely. It is recorded that, in 870, the Vikings active in East Anglia sacked Etheldreda's foundation. Thus a second Abbess Aebbe has been erroneously created to explain the fact that the attack happen nearly 200 years after the death of Aebbe the Elder.