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Re: Re St.Arilda's church at Oldbury on Severn
May 05, 2009, 21:50
moss wrote:
Not on a circle but a presumed bronze age barrow, and with a long history of occupation on site.... What is fascinating is the dominant feature of the church in the landscape atop a very large mound, a statement of power by the church over paganism...


Recent visits to churches in Essex once again reinforce the theme of a pre-Roman (Christianised site) with a least one large stone embedded in its foundations. The walls of Essex churches are generally constructed from small nodules of flint (occasionally with the addition of small or broken puddingstones) so the presence of a large sarsen-like stone in a wall is very striking indeed. Were such stones brought from afar and incorporated into (pre-Christian) stone circles because of their association with centres of ancient importance? At Alphamstone in Essex for example there is a local legend that the sarsen stones in and around the church were brought from Wiltshire. Conversely, were stones from different parts of the country taken to places of major importance such as Silbury and incorporated into its construction as an act of pilgrimage or respect for the departed - a Westminster Abbey of the Neolithic? The use of sacred sites, and the subsequent building sequence of churches in Essex (and elsewhere?) seems to be -

1) The site tends to be on slightly raised ground and is close to a river, stream or a spring.
2) The site will have at least one (formerly a standing stone?) embedded in its lower foundations, as well as Roman tiles in the upper layers of its walls.

The Essex churches of Broomfield and Great Canfield (with its fascinating fylfot crosses and other pre-Christian reliefs) as well as the church at Little Baddow seem to be examples of this continuous use of sacred sites - ie from a grove with water close by to a Roman villa to an Anglo-Saxon and then to a Norman presence.

Two thousand years of sacred use - perhaps even much longer...
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