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Circles under churches
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PeterH
PeterH
1180 posts

Re: Circles under churches
Aug 19, 2005, 23:26
Yes - the date is a key element.

Supposing a new religion was to be forcibly introduced into Britain today. Supposing that the new religion went into every parish church and cast down the altars and used them for building blocks.
Supposing that the new alien temple walls deliberately straddled the altars and stood on them and over them.

Would that not be dominance of the new over the old? How would today's practising Christians regard that? Sacrilege? Hardly integration and honouring the Christian altars.

Christianity was introduced into Britain during the Roman occupation. There are Christian symbols surviving in mosaics and evidence of small churches. We don't really know much about the survival of British Christianity after the Romans left. But there are stones inscribed in Latin - they are memorial stones and crosses surely evolved from way mark stones. In the west, Christianity certainly survived and flourished.

When we read of the Papal bull to reconsecrate pagan temples but to destroy stones and wooden idols - what do we envisage? Available building materials varied from region to region. Here in East Anglia the pagan temples would have been constructed of wood - even the earliest churches were wooden. So the only stones were the boulders that the pagans venerated. The wooden temples were turned into wooden churches and the pagan stones either cast aside (my view) or kept as some kind of PR exercise (Littlestone's view). Later and most especially when the Normans arrived, the early wooden churches were replaced with stone ones. The stone being imported from far away to areas where there was no local stone. After all those centuries - is it reasonable to believe that the local boulders were still respected as pagan holy objects or merely seen as useful building blocks? Is it conceivable that later medieval churches continued to honour pagan stones from some remote past - or did they simply use them as foundation stones? Or did they simply toss them aside as being inferior quality until some romantic antiquarian reintroduced them as evidence of Druidic worship etc?

My view - most were used for building, but in some cases they were deliberatly placed in inferior positions to show the superior dominance of the new, more powerful religion. The church stood on its cowed and defeated enemy. When was the church ever tolerant? Sure, it took over old festivals and even the names of the days of the week - but to honour pagan idols? Don't think so.
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