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Church's Pre-Historic Past Unearthed
Journal Live ^ | 2-14-2008 | Tony Henderson

Posted on 02/14/2008 3:54:38 PM PST by blam

Church's pre-historic past unearthed

Feb 14 2008 By Tony Henderson

Work on a town’s church has revealed that the site may have been used for ritual and worship for thousands of years.

Major refurbishment work on the Grade I-listed St Michael and All Angels church in Houghton-le-Spring, Tyne and Wear, began last month and has involved digging up the floor to install a new heating system.

The church, dating back to Norman times, is the oldest building in the town.

A carved stone above a tiny doorway, featuring a carving of mysterious intertwined animals known as the Houghton Beasts, may be from before the Norman Conquest.

But investigation by archaeologists as the refurbishment has continued has revealed whinstone boulders under the church, which are thought to have been part of an early prehistoric burial cairn or ritual site. A line of similar boulders has been found under the churchyard wall.

Archaeologist Peter Ryder, of Riding Mill in Northumberland, said: “It looks like a prehistoric site. We can’t think of any other reason why these very large boulders should be inside the church.”

Under the central tower of the church, which was restored in about 1350, the work has uncovered huge Roman stones thought to have come from a Roman temple.

“These are massive and spectacular foundations for the tower, using huge stones which must have come from a major Roman building,” said Peter.

A Roman stone coffin lid has been in the churchyard for many years.

It is believed it was often the practice that important pagan ritual or worship sites were taken over by subsequent religions.

“We have found far more than we ever expected when the work began,” said Peter, who is working alongside Newcastle University’s Archaeological Practice.

Also uncovered has been a maze of mainly 18th Century burial vaults, some brick and some stone, under the church. A number had their tops and bodies removed when Newcastle architect John Dobson carried out remodelling in 1858 – during which, the current work has shown, he re-used medieval timbers from the roof.

Pits of bones from this work have been found and the remains will be reburied.

Several intact vaults have been found in the current work and Peter said: “We have found evidence for at least several dozen vaults.”

There are also signs of a major fire around the time the church was rebuilt in 1330s-40s, probably after a Scottish raid. There is a documentary account of a man having been killed by Scots raiders while hiding in the church belfry.

Another find has been footings of a wall from a late Saxon or early Norman nave. The Rev Derek Newton, associate priest at the church, said the finds would be part of a Houghton heritage centre which will be created in the church as part of the £1m refurbishment project.

“Although the finds have delayed the work slightly, this has been a great adventure and everybody has enjoyed what has been revealed,” he said.

To help raise funds for the heritage centre, people are being invited to make a donation as they contribute items, photographs or writings to a time capsule which will be sealed beneath the new floor.

Contact Mr Newton on (0191) 584-9169.

The church is considering holding an open day for people to view the finds a week on Saturday.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: church; churchhistory; godsgravesglyphs; prehistoric; uk; unearthed

1 posted on 02/14/2008 3:54:40 PM PST by blam
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To: SunkenCiv

GGG Ping.


2 posted on 02/14/2008 3:56:00 PM PST by blam (Secure the border and enforce the law)
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To: blam
lemme guess, they found a voter's guide advocating Hillary Rodham Clinton, right?

/lame joke.

3 posted on 02/14/2008 3:57:29 PM PST by the invisib1e hand (anyone can be a soldier in peacetime.)
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To: blam

Wonderful../s

Another “Church as museum” article not Church as living breathing “alive” body...


4 posted on 02/14/2008 3:58:23 PM PST by padre35 (Conservative in Exile/ Isaiah 3.3/Cry havoc and let slip the RINOS)
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To: blam

There was always a story in my maternal village in Greece that the village church, from the 11th century, was built over the ruins of a small pagan temple. The story was lent some credence by the fact that several of the columns which support the roof of the exonarthex of the church were clearly anachronistic and not at all in the style of the rest of the building. Several years ago the Ephorate of Antiquities, with an EU grant and the assistance of some French archaeologists began excavating underneath the floor of the nave. Sure enough, they found the temple just as the old story said they would.

That floor they took up is itself quite important. It has a large Byzantine eagle in the middle of it and it is at that precise spot where Constantine XI Paleologos, the last Emperor of the Roman Empire stood when the first prayers in Greece were chanted for him upon his election to the Purple.


5 posted on 02/14/2008 4:10:08 PM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: blam

As I recall Bede’s ‘Ecclesiastical History of the English People,’ Pope Gregory the Great directed St. Augustine of Canterbury (sent to Britain to convert the English people) to build churches on pagan holy sites.


6 posted on 02/14/2008 5:01:57 PM PST by FFranco
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To: blam
The Houghton Beasts:

An 1800's image of the church:

St. Michael's & All Angels' Church" for more, including several more pictures.

7 posted on 02/14/2008 5:22:14 PM PST by ApplegateRanch (If Liberalism doesn't kill me, I'll live 'till I die!)
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To: ApplegateRanch

Excellent, thanks.


8 posted on 02/14/2008 6:08:57 PM PST by blam (Secure the border and enforce the law)
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To: blam

I have read enough H.P. Lovecraft to know how disturbing pagan crypts is going to turn out.


9 posted on 02/14/2008 6:12:06 PM PST by Swiss
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To: blam

That’s really interesting. Thanks for posting it.


10 posted on 02/14/2008 6:15:27 PM PST by mysterio
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To: blam

I’m reminded of a good book which I recently finished for anyone who finds this interesting: Ken Follet’s “The Pillars of the Earth”, which centered around the construction of cathedrals in 12th century England. I thought it was slightly marred by the numerous graphic obligatory rape scenes though.


11 posted on 02/14/2008 6:24:14 PM PST by FrdmLvr
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To: blam

How is this “pre-historic”? Haven’t people been recording history for millenia? Are not the Scriptures that this church likely used in their services not historical?


12 posted on 02/14/2008 6:26:31 PM PST by Theo (Global warming "scientists." Pro-evolution "scientists." They're both wrong.)
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To: Theo

Never mind. I mis-read the article. Looks like there’s some old, old things going on beneath that there church.


13 posted on 02/14/2008 6:51:07 PM PST by Theo (Global warming "scientists." Pro-evolution "scientists." They're both wrong.)
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To: FrdmLvr
I thought it was slightly marred by the numerous graphic obligatory rape scenes though.

On even numbered days, I'm glad Bowdler is dead. On odd numbered days, I could find lots for him to apply his talents on.

Maybe publishers could start putting out 'full' and PG versions.

14 posted on 02/14/2008 7:00:03 PM PST by ApplegateRanch (If Liberalism doesn't kill me, I'll live 'till I die!)
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To: blam; StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach; 1ofmanyfree; 24Karet; 3AngelaD; 49th; ...

· join list or digest · view topics · view or post blog · bookmark · post a topic ·

 
Gods
Graves
Glyphs
Thanks Blam.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.
GGG managers are Blam, StayAt HomeMother, and Ernest_at_the_Beach
 

· Google · Archaeologica · ArchaeoBlog · Archaeology magazine · Biblical Archaeology Society ·
· Mirabilis · Texas AM Anthropology News · Yahoo Anthro & Archaeo ·
· History or Science & Nature Podcasts · Excerpt, or Link only? · cgk's list of ping lists ·


15 posted on 02/14/2008 11:52:58 PM PST by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/____________________Profile updated Sunday, February 10, 2008)
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To: ApplegateRanch; blam; SunkenCiv

here be dragons.

16 posted on 02/15/2008 2:08:49 AM PST by Fred Nerks (fair dinkum!)
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To: blam

Planted by Columba maybe, or a monk of his order?


17 posted on 02/15/2008 2:13:53 AM PST by ovrtaxt (Member of the irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.)
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To: blam; SunkenCiv; P-Marlowe; Dr. Eckleburg; Kolokotronis

We have lots of churches today that use vacated theaters, big box stores, and abandoned schools as buildings for worship.

For Christians, ultimately the building is just a building that is used to protect from the elements. Not to say that they didn’t do a restructuring and beautification program once they arrived, but that’s a different subject.

Any standing building no longer used has always been fair game. Even in the New Testament they met in upper rooms, people’s homes, and beside streams.

Same here.

The building is not the church. The people are the church.


18 posted on 02/15/2008 3:08:15 AM PST by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain -- Those denying the War was Necessary Do NOT Support the Troops!)
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To: xzins

In my town, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (whatever that is) meets in a spare room of a Volunteer Fire Station. On Sundays the parking lot usually has a good crowd.


19 posted on 02/15/2008 5:27:48 AM PST by CholeraJoe (Maybe tonight he'll be gone.)
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To: CholeraJoe; Gamecock; Dr. Eckleburg

The Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) is a denomination determined to return to historic, biblical, reformed teaching.


20 posted on 02/15/2008 5:40:34 AM PST by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain -- Those denying the War was Necessary Do NOT Support the Troops!)
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To: xzins

Oh, kinda like Southern Baptists who baptize by sprinkling?


21 posted on 02/15/2008 5:49:49 AM PST by CholeraJoe (Maybe tonight he'll be gone.)
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To: padre35

So, archeologists can never just write about their findings?


22 posted on 02/15/2008 5:52:15 AM PST by Larry Lucido
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To: CholeraJoe

I think they are a breakoff of what we today would consider the PCA (Presby Church of America) due to the PCA’s liberalism. J. Grashem Machen (sp?), renowned as an Ivy League expert in Greek (Princeton?) was among their founders, and also among those who came up with the 5 Fundamentals of the Christian faith, from which the word “fundamentalism” eventually derived.

Since the S. Baptists are primarily a calminian, adult anabaptistic denomination, they are really quite different from the OPC’s solidly calvinistic, reformed faith.


23 posted on 02/15/2008 6:04:03 AM PST by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain -- Those denying the War was Necessary Do NOT Support the Troops!)
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To: FrdmLvr

It was a very good book, meticulously researched, and full of architectural details about how these soaring monuments to God were built.


24 posted on 02/15/2008 6:14:11 AM PST by wildbill
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To: ApplegateRanch

Oh what a beautiful church! My ancestors, on my dad’s side hail from that area of England. I would love to visit there some day - and this church would definitely be on my list of places to visit!


25 posted on 02/15/2008 9:08:15 AM PST by sneakers (STILL supporting Duncan Hunter! Proudly!)
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