Thursday, 13 September 2012

Tiny Saxon Churches

Click on the picture to make it grow
As Our Reader will be aware, members of The Ragged Society of Antiquarian Ramblers are currently undertaking an unsystematic survey of the pre-Conquest churches of Norfolk. Along with the later Saxon/Anglo-Scandinavian examples (see HERE for further information), we are discovering a remarkable array of 'micro' churches. This is an emerging field of study, so it is difficult to speak definitely, but we are working to the following shorthand: the smaller the structure, the earlier the date. 

In the image above, you can see a fantastic example of what we believe to be an Early Saxon church (we are currently withholding the exact locations, but I can confirm that it is located in the Western hemisphere). As you will observe from the A5 sized copy of 'Mortlock & Roberts' placed next to it, the church really is on the tiny end of the micro-church typography. As Mr. Many Coats exclaimed,
"It's a tiddler!"

Members of The Society have been discussing possible explanations for these ancient small scale churches, and our current theories include:

  • People were smaller in ancient times, so they only needed little churches to worship in
  • People were poorer back then, and tiny churches would only involve a minimal cost to construct
  • During the olden days roving bands and raiders would target churches. Their small size would mean that they were harder to locate 
Huzzah!

~ Munro Tweeder-Harris, Esq. ~


9 comments:

  1. No, I wasn't aware of that, but thanks for pointing it out. Our tiny, local Saxon church in Bradford upon Avon was further hidden by having several domestic houses built around it, into which were installed outwardly ordinary-looking families. In this way it was hidden from the voracious eyes of roving raiders so successfully, that they forgot all about it, and actually built another church right next to it, thinking they were one short. It took the eagle eyes of a Victorian vicar to remember it's existence, and now it is the architectural jewel in the crown of Bradford, and is stored in a matchbox for safe keeping.

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    1. I keep my children's teeth in a matchbox for safe keeping Tom and they are only allowed to take them out to eat their dinner.

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  2. As always your post is very interesting Munro, although could I perhaps postulate another explantion for these ancient 'micro' churches.

    If I may:
    It is well known that there was a dearth of good building stone in Norfolk long ago, hence as some would argue a preponderence of round tower churches that don't rely on squared stone to form the corners on the said towers. I however would like to take this hypothesis one step further by suggesting that in ancient pre round tower times, not only was there a lack of good quality building stone, but flint (The standard building material in later Norfolk churches) had yet to be invented. Hence the smallness of pre conquest churches in our fine county.

    Thank you for you attention on this matter.

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    1. I hate flint. It appears all hard and sharp with no forgiving characteristics. Yet when you hit it hard, it shatters into tiny pieces.

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  3. Not only were they much smaller then, but they didn't live beyond the age of 12, because of plague and stuff like that. They also hated their children and hit them really, really hard with big sticks and made them eat mud.

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    1. Mother always beat father with a big stick when he soiled himself. Father soiled himself a lot.

      More tea anyone?

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    2. 'Eateth yon muud', they would say, 'lest ye be'th beaten'neth with yon really'eth, really' eth bigeth stick'.

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    3. Thankyou for all your facts Fact Boy and now I have a fact for you. Did you know that the origins of the 'two finger salute' used by base people today can actually be traced back to medieval times. Yes indeed, for in those days most people had a poor diet and a consequence of that fact was that they could only grow two fingers on each hand. Therefore the two fingered salute was not originally a rude gesture, rather it was a friendly one - Simply a means of waving to people who were standing behind you!

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