Home Again, Home Again …

The three days in London flew past. Time, too soon, to fly home to Australia.

In doing my research for the historical context of my account I came across an interesting map that I didn’t use but is both interesting and amusing, the Roman Roads of Britain by Sasha Trubetskoy …

Quoting myself here …

Around AD 410 rule from Rome came to an end. The Angles and Saxons were invading Britain, the Visigoths were besieging Rome. Paganism was the new thing. Except in Ireland where the Celts had proven quite resistant to Roman rule but had adopted Christianity.

Gives the impression that Christianity was flourishing in Ireland before Roman rule in Britain had faded. This is incorrect. As the pagan Angles and Saxons forced themselves into Britain Christianity retreated into Wales from where it made its way across the Irish Sea from AD 431 on.

Some sources give the impression that Celtic practice was vastly different from the Roman. This is ascribed to the influence of Coptic Christianity of the time which was more monastic and ascetic rather than congregational. The devout retreated from the general community rather than live within it and gather at church on Sunday. In Egypt they tended to take themselves off into the desert. There are quite a few place names in Ireland that include Dysart which might indicate proximity to one of these early monasteries. (See sacredconnections for example).

Other sources suggest that the differences weren’t great, although they did come to differ in the calculation of Easter.

After the reintroduction of Christianity to England around AD 600 until the Norman conquest 1066 we have four and a half centuries with no churches to show for it. Recycling me again …

Until the Norman’s popularised the practice of building with stone, churches in Britain had been mainly timber and thatch affairs. None has survived to the present day. So 1066 marks the beginning of church architecture in Britain …

The Romans in Britain had built in stone, not only roads and walls but substantial villas as well. Christians elsewhere were building in stone such as the magnificent Hagia Sophia in Istanbul dating from AD 537. Why not the Anglo-Saxons?

Mea culpa, I repeated the popularly held oversimplification that there are no pre-Norman churches remaining in Britain. There aren’t too many in their original state but there are a few.

This is perhaps the finest of them. It is Escomb church from the far north-east of England. The photo is taken from the web site greatenglishchurches with permission from Lionel Wall the author. It was built somewhere around AD 680.

A few other examples exist but most have been modified extensively.

Anyone planning a visit to England that has an interest in the great parish churches would do well to browse this site. It’s a beauty.

Escomb has gone on my bucket list, its not far from Durham so I can combine it with a visit to Durham Cathedral and the Oriental Museum at Durham University (which was called the Gulbenkian Museum last time I was there).

Take the Ermine line from Londinium, change at Petuaria …

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