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Circles under churches
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Re: Circles under churches
Nov 28, 2005, 23:23
Not sure I want to get into this one again - the thread is very long and we've said it all before.

First churches in Britain were Roman and after Christianity became the official religion there was no further persecution. Two kinds of paganism were in decline - the Roman stuff of Jupiter and Mithras etc and whatever remained of "Celtic" religion and that was the religion of the un-educated peasants.

Romans buggered off and Saxons pushed in bringing a different kind of paganism. British (or Celtic) Christianity was alive and well in the west but Kent and eastern England had to be re-converted by Rome. Big punch up between the Roman Christians and the British Christians particularly about haircutsand the fixing of Easter. Pope told missionaries to break stone and wooden idols but to reconsecrate the pagan temples or shrines as churches. Some votive stones may have been incorporated in the church fabric and honoured ie placed by the entrance or behind the table (no altars then). Some stones may have been de-paganised by being humbled - ie put in lowly places with church walls over them. Churches in stoneless regions would simply have re-used available stones as building material with no ulterior motive. Many in East Anglia contain Roman brick and tile taken from abandoned villas. The whole of St Albans Cathedral is built with the bricks and tiles of Roman Verulamium.

Stone circles under churches? Where? Alton Priors? No. Churches in or near stone circles? Yes - Avebury, Stanton Drew, Knowlton etc. Why? Continuation of a locally accepted place of worship. However, many more standing stones than we acknowledege must have been seen as very convenient blanks for the carving of high crosses. Think about our tallest - Rudston. What does that mean? It means the Rood Stone and the rood was the Saxon term for the cross.

For a detailed examination of the whole subject see Richard Morris "Churches in the Landscape" Dent 1989 reprinted by Phoenix 1997

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