Saxon Stones

Our Earliest Memories

These stones laid hidden, buried in the walls of the church.  They were used as rough filling in the east end of church, built in the 16th century.  That whole phase of building was poor quality – with no foundations and so when major work in 1901-3 was undertaken to save this part of the church, these stones emerged from the rubble.
It is always possible that there are more pieces in there, awaiting discovery.

The stones have been identified as Scandinavian work from about the year 950.
(The oval stone at the back of the display is a relatively modern memorial tablet and is not a part of this group.)

The fact that they appear to be parts of no less than seven crosses suggests strongly that there was already a substantial stone-built church on this site. Certainly, around 100 years later, the Domesday Book records that a church existed then.

The stones display the interleaving strap-work so typical of the Norse-men. They are the oldest positively-identified artefacts in the church.   The workmanship varies a bit in quality and a future project may well be to do the research needed to identify just which parts of the cross(es) these are.  But that, I am afraid, lies in the future.

“Scandinavian work of 950AD”
That actually means “Viking”.
But, please, forget about fearsome warriors with horned helmets!

First of all “viking” is a Norse word – and it means “trading”.  The people from the North Countries (north-men) came to Britain, looking for trade, for places to settle and build.  Of course, they came armed.  Only a fool would do otherwise.  Of course, when opposed, they fought.  And, yes, they did rape, burn and destroy.  But their basic intention was relatively peaceful.  And, with them, they brought skills, art and precious things.

We learn a lot from place names.  “Ley” is the Norse word for a clearing in the woods – so Brad-ley, Keigh-ley, Conon-ley and Ilk-ley all exist in a place that was heavily wooded.  Similarly, “viking”, gives us “vik”, or “wick” – a trading post.  There is a small difficulty as “wick” is also a Saxon word for an outlying farm.  But I prefer to believe that Kild-wick refers to a Norse trading station, even though that may give rise to yet another inaccurate myth about our history.

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