Thursday, September 08, 2005

Saxon Cross at Yarnton, near Oxford.

Yarnton's church building is clearly mediaeval and one could be forgiven for thinking this goes back not much further than say, the XIII century. But the Saxon cross just outside the porch shows there has been a place of worship here at least since, if not before the days of King Alfred of Wessex.
In the earliest days of the re-establishment of Christianity in Saxon England, priests were rather few and far between and they had perforce to travel around the area and when they arrived in a village a cross would be planted in the ground. This served as a temporary open air church where all the ecclesiastical business pertaining to that area was done. As time went by, the wooden cross was replaced with a stone one. Later, as the local community grew, and felt it could support a priest, the villagers would get together and build a church. The building belonged to the villagers or, under the feudal system, the local lord of the manor.
This weathered piece of masonry (of which there are quite a few dotted around England) is direct evidence of the strength of faith that has lasted down the centuries.
It was a lovely hot afternoon when I sat in the churchyard doing this drawing. When I had finished it I was taken aback somewhat by the way it came out. It has a bit of a Pre-Raphael look about it. Not surprising I suppose when most of the landscape hereabouts has something of that feel about it.

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