Thursday, July 17, 2008


Letter from Gregory taken to England by Mellitus;
When almighty god has brought you to our most reverend brother Bishop Augustine, tell him what I have decided after long deliberation about the English people, namely that the idol temples (fana idolurum) of that race should by no means be destroyed, but the idols in them. Take holy water and sprinkle it in these shrines, build altars and place relics in the. For if the shrines are well built, it is essential that they should be changed from the worship of devils (cultu daemonum) to the service of the true god. When these people see that their shrines are not destroyed they will be able to banish error from their hearts and be more ready to come to the places thaey are familar with, but now recognizing and worshipping the true god.

Gregory's answer to a letter from Augustine which must have been outlining the English religious customs;

Because they (the English) are in the habit of slaughteringmuch cattle as sacrifices to devils, some solemnity ought to be given in exchange for this. So on the day of the dedication or the festivals of the holy martyrs, whose relics are deposited there, let them make themselves huts from the branches of trees around the churches which have been converted out of shrines, and let them celebrate the solemnity with religious feast.
Do not let them sacrifice animals to the devil, but let them slaughter animals for their own food to the praise of god, and let them give thanks to the giver of things for his bountiful provision.

Martin Biddle Widening Horizons - relationships between Celtic overlap into Roman period and also pagan Anglo-Saxon...

Roman evidence in christian churches have been found in a considerable numer eg....
St.Martin's church Ancaster 1831 record;

Sculpture of Romano -celtic Mother-goddesses in triple form
Was still standing upright, facing south and had been placed on top of a rough stone block at one end of a massive 6 x 4 foot stone slab. At the southern end of the slab was a small, elaborately carved stone altar....
"Reason for singling out a stone would be because it had be venerated in the past, This raises the question of whether churches were ever deliberately positioned in close topographical relation to megalithic monuments, or built from the debris of such structure"
quote from Churches in the landscape; Richard Morris

Evidence, mostly Brittany, some Cornish; Church of St.Michael Awliscombe (pagan stone at the threshold of the west door.

St.Tysilio at Llandysiliogogo ;
In 189o renovators of the church of uncovered a huge stone buried in the nave, they were unable to remove it.

Similar incident in Guernsey, 12 years later when a stone of unusual size was discovered beneath the chancel floor at Catel...

On Bernera in the Hebrides there is a pillar in the church which is said to be part of a stone circle. This is an Ogham stone
The scanty ruins of Kilchattan Church, behind the hotel, date from medieval times. In the kirkyard are some old grave slabs showing knights in armour. One is possibly of Malcolm MacNeill, Laird of Gigha, who died in 1493.
And behind the church, atop the Cnoc A’Charraidh (Hill of the Pillar) is the Ogham Stone dating from the time the island formed part of the kingdom of Dalriada. It carries a carving that reads Fiacal son of Coemgen, and probably marks a burial.

At Midmer Kirk Abd there is a stone circle in the churchyard (Burl 1976)

Two large stones which lie in the churchyard at Bolsterstone may be the vestiges of a megalithic structure...

Ysbity Cynfyn (C.s.Briggs 1979)

Alton Barnes church: WANHM 68, 71-8;

This Nicker pool belongs to an earlier blog under Mildenhall.......

Nykerpole : here be dragons
Nykerpole is a very obscure well. Indeed, it is now not a well at all, but a mediaeval place-name, recorded first in 1272, indicating a well now lost, at Mildenhall near Marlborough. Nevertheless, I include Nykerpole here because, like Puckwell, the place-name recalls a legendary well-dwelling creature.
Mildenhall (pronounced Mine-all) was Roman Cunetio. Two Roman shaft-wells have been found in the area, one of which contained a Saxon burial, the remains of a female skeleton with a knife, pins, buckles and beads. Black Field is the site of the Roman settlement, and Roman ghosts have been seen here (
Wiltshire 1984, pp. 25-6). Nickamoor Field lies just west of Black Field beside the River Kennet. A placename of the sixteenth century, Nicapooles Croft, may refer to this very field, or to another associated with it. Centuries have passed, and we will probably never know the exact location of Nykerpole, the nicor-pool of Anglo-Saxon times which gave its name to Nicapooles Croft and Nickamoor Field (Gover 1939, p. 499). The nicor was a great water-dwelling monster of the dragonish or sea-serpent type: two nicras are described in Beowulf, the Anglo-Saxon epic poem of the early eighth century. Nowadays the nicor lingers most notably in the Knucker Holes of Sussex, great deep pools of water in whose bottomless depths lurked the Knucker itself (Simpson 1973, pp. 37-42). But it is clear that, centuries ago, Wiltshire too had its Knucker which perhaps, like its Sussex cousins, would come crawling up out of its pool to terrorise the people of the gentle Kennet valley.
Location: Nicamoor Field is at SU 214 694, Sheet 1186. Footpaths run either side of the River Kennet.

Berwick Bassett - no church before 1300 VCH il 155

WAM l 1XV11; Few traces of prehistoric activity have been found in the parish. 2 barrows in the N/E corner and a paelolithic axe found;

SU1198 7387 Bowl barrow 500 m N/W of Berwick Bassett camp;

Pewsey group of barrows S/E of Down farm (Roman?)

Winterbourne Bassett 580 SU 0980 7530

Winterbourne monkton Collection of R/B pottery fragments

Church of St.Nicholas; chancel 13th c; wooden tower in 1807 13th c font. Built between 1191 & 1221

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