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Early Christianity Gazetteer

All Saints Church, Alton Priors

The Grade II listed All Saints Church in Alton Priors dates from the 12th century. According to 'A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 11' (1980) 'The church of ALL SAINTS, Alton Priors, is built of freestone, rubble, and red brick and has a chancel, nave, and west tower. The chancel arch survives from the 12th-century church. Read More »

Anchorites and Anchoresses

Anchoress

Anchorites and anchoresses would live in religious solitude bricked up in a hut or cell known as an anchorhold attached to the side of a medieval church. This was a special vocation and the bricking up of the chosen anchorite was usually presided over by the bishop. Read More »

Banwell Cross

A two feet high pillow mound earthwork shaped as a cross in Banwell has a Devil legend attached to it. According to the story, the villagers of Banwell attempted to erect a large cross on Banwell Hill, but each night the Devil would come along and blow it down. In order to prevent this the villagers decided to create the cross on the ground making it difficult for the Devil to destroy. Read More »

Bardsey Island

Bardsey Island (P)

The island is also known as the island of the currents and the saints. There are said to be the graves of 20,000 saints interred on the island, and legend suggests that anybody buried here will not go to hell no matter how wicked his deeds. Read More »

Bell Of Saint Oudoceus

The 12 century Cathedral of Llandaff was built on the site of an earlier church traditionally attributed to Saint Telio, the successor of Saint Dubricius who had established a 6th century community here at a ford over the River Taff. Telio was succeeded by Saint Oudoceus (also known as Euddogwy) (Died 700AD). Read More »

Bodmin

Bodmin means the house of the monks, and this was an ecclesiastical town until the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII.

The original monastery dedicated to St Petroc was founded in the 6th Century. St Petroc's bones are believed to be kept in an ivory casket in the crypt of St Petroc's Church. Read More »

Burscough Priory

Robert Fitz-Henry, Lord of Lathom (Born 1135) founded the Augustinian Burscough Priory around 1190. It was dissolved during the Dissolution of the Monasteries by King Henry VIII circa 1536 and today very little remains of the building. Read More »

Capel Lligwy

Capel Lligwy

The remains of this building, close to Din Lligwy and the Lligwy cromlech can cause the visitor to stop and ponder why a chapel was built in this isolated evocative position overlooking L Read More »

Cathedral Church of St Peter, York Minster

The largest gothic cathedral in northern Europe, York Minster dates from between 1220 and 1472. It is built upon the site of York's Roman Basilica and subsequently the location chosen for an early Christian Church (627AD – 640AD). Read More »

Chance To Be Part Of Project Albion

ASSAP (The Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena) in partnership with Mysterious Britain & Ireland is opening up its long running Project Albion to enable members of the public to directly contribute towards it. Read More »

Church of St Mary and St Alkelda

Church Of St Mary & St Alkelda

Dating from 1280, this is one of only two churches dedicated to St Alkeda (Alkelda,Athilda, Alcelda) (the other being in Giggleswick) and is said to be her final resting place. St Alkeda was a chaste Saxon maiden, sometimes described as a princess and a nun. Read More »

Church of St. Meilig, Llowes and Moll Walbee's Stone

The medieval church of St Meilig was rebuilt in 1853, though the bottom of the tower may be a remnant of the earlier building. Inside the church is a standing stone with a cross carved into it, which possibly dates from the 6th or 7th century. The stone which is thought to have stood at or near the site of a 6th century monastery founded by St Meilig at Croesfeilig. Read More »

Congresbury Church

The Yew trees in the church yard are said to be the relatives of an ancient tree which sprouted from a staff planted in the ground by St Congar. Yew trees grow very slowly and are often found in ancient churchyards. In many cases they are the descendants of ancient trees planted when the church was first built. The story may be a folk memory related to the original planting. Read More »

Crossraguel Abbey

Abbey from Tower

The ruins of this relatively little known abbey are remarkably intact, and stand in a part of Ayrshire steeped in history. As well as being historically interesting there are many enigmas associated with the abbey, which could well be worth further research. There may have been a Pictish site here, and some people suggest that the abbey may have a Templar connection. Read More »

Dunino Church and Den

The church may occupy a site on which a stone circle once stood, some of the stones can still be seen incorporated into the fabric of the church. In other stories the stones came from a circle on the other side of Dunino Den. It was quite common for churches to be built on much older pagan sites. Read More »

Eo Rossa

The Eo Rossa or Eó Ruis (Yew of Ross) was one of the five sacred trees of Ireland (the Bile* Trees or the Bileda) and said to grow by the River Barrow at Leighlinbridge. It grew from three natured berries from a branch born by the Irish God, Trefuilngid Tre-ochair (Triple Bearer of the Triple Key, Master of All Wisdom and consort of Macha, the triple goddess). Read More »

Ffynnon Barruc (St Barruc's Well)

St Barruc's Well is today capped and the once healing waters were diverted to make way for a Butlins holiday camp in 1965. Luckily though descriptions of the well survive. Wirt Sykes in British Goblins (1881) tells us that ‘on Barry Island, near Cardiff, is the famous well of St. Read More »

Ffynnon Elian (St. Elian's Well)

St Elian’s Well, like most Holy Well’s was associated with having healing properties until around 1723 when it developed a reputation for being a cursing well. Thought to have sprang forth to quench the thirst of St Elian in the 6th century, the well was a source of pilgrimage for many centuries. Read More »

Ffynnon Fair (St. Mary’s Well), Llwyn-y-pia

Ffynnon Fair is a holy well situated outside the village of Llwyn-y-pia. The well is the oldest recorded Christian site in the Rhondda. Some historians date the site back further, and it could be pagan in origin. The water from the well is reputed to cure ailments, especially rheumatism and poor eyesight. Rhisiart ap Rhys wrote: Read More »

Gallarus Oratory

Gallarus Oratory Front

Ireland has a history of early Christian settlement dating as far back as the 6th century when monastic settlements were developed as bastions of the faith in the remote Irish countryside. Gallarus Oratory is the oldest and best preserved example of an early church that served one of these small settlements, and is probably one of the oldest intact buildings in Ireland. Read More »

Glastonbury

Glastonbury Tor Landscape

Glastonbury has been identified with the mysterious Isle of Avalon from the twelfth century, its past has become steeped in myth and legend, and it is probably most famous for its Arthurian and early Christian traditions. Read More »

Glastonbury Abbey, Arthur's Grave

Arthur's Cross

This is a reproduction of the cross said to have been found in Arthur's grave at Glastonbury Abbey. The actual grave seems to have been a very early burial but the Arthur link is tenuous. The actual cross disappeared many years ago and the only depiction is from a drawing by William Camden in 1607, from which this picture has been redrawn. Read More »

Glastonbury Holy Thorn Tree

Holy Thorn

I have visited Glastonbury many times over the last few decades, but only got around to visiting the Holy Thron on Wearyall Hill for the first time in September 2011. Unfortunately it was in a poor state after being vandalised the previous December and then apparently further damaged by souvenir hunters. Read More »

Glastonbury Tor

Glastonbury Tor

The Tor has been associated with magic and mystery for thousands of years. It seems likely that early man used the tor for rituals, and maze like path has been identified spiralling around the tor seven times. Professor Philip Rahtz dated the terraces to the Neolithic period, and concluded that they may have been part of a maze. Read More »

Gosforth Chapel

Gosforth Cross

This must have been an important place of worship to the Norse invaders, and to later generations judging by the wealth of important early Christian relics here. The actual church has been renovated several times and much of the older structure has been destroyed. Read More »

Holy Island

The island was said to be the home of St Molaise who is reputed to have been born in Ireland in 570AD. He came to Holy Island to live as a hermit and Molaise's cave is one of his reputed abodes. Read More »

Holy Well of St Winifred

St Winifride's Holy Well

The healing waters of St Winifred’s (Winifride) Holy Well have attracted pilgrims for over 1300 years and the crypt in which the well lies was stacked with crutches left by the cured invalids until some time in the 1960’s, though can still be seen on display. Read More »

Inchmahome Priory

Cloisters at Inchmahome Priory

Situated on an island in the middle of Lake Menteith, the only 'Lake' in Scotland, Inchmahome Priory is a ruined Augustine (The Black Cannons) priory founded in 1238 by Walter Comyn, who was the Earl of Menteith. The Earl is likely to have founded the monastery for the good of his soul, and to show of his status as an important landowner. Read More »

Irton Cross and Church

Irton Cross

There are two Celtic Crosses in Irton Churchyard, one is truly ancient and the other is a copy of the former incorporated into more modern grave. The ancient cross is thought to date from the early ninth century, before the Norsemen invaded the area. Read More »

Kilmichael Country House Hotel, Brodick

Kilmichael is possibly the oldest house on the Isle of Arran and is associated with the Fullerton family who were one of the two major landowners on the island. The name itself indicates the location of the house may be on the site of an early Christian cell dedicated to St Michael. An apparition of a Grey Lady supposedly haunts the hotel.

King Doniert's Stone

King Doniert's Stone

Two granite slabs carved with latin inscriptions and intricate patterns, lie near the edge of Bodmin Moor.The stones are the remains of crosses, and are associated with King Doniert (Durngarth) of Cornwall who drowned in AD 875 in the river Fowey. Read More »

La Hogue Bie

La Hogue Bie

La Hogue Bie is a major Neolitic ritual site dating back to 3500BC and one of the best preserved cruciform passage graves in Europe. Its passage is twenty meters long and is covered by a 12.2 meter high earth mound. The mound istelf is 58 meters in diameter and covers an area of 2400 square meters. Read More »

Llangelynin Church and The Holy Well of St. Celynin

Llangelynin church is one of the oldest and remotest churches in Wales; it dates from the 12th Century. Saint Celynin might have erected a religious edifice on the site in the 6th Century since St. Celynin’s well is in the corner of the church yard. The well is a small rectangular pool with stone seats and stone walls. It was reputedly famous for its ability to cure sick children. Read More »

Llddwyn Island

This island is connected by a sandy beach to Anglesey, and was home in the Dark Ages to a religious community, founded by the female Saint Dwynwen. St Dwynwen is a patron saint of Welsh lovers, and after her death the island became an important place of pilgrimage. Read More »

Llech Lafar, St Davids

Llech Lafar, a speaking slab of marble by the River Alun is referred to by Wirt Sykes in his ‘British Goblins’ (1881). 'The Talking Stone Llechlafar, or stone of loquacity, served as a bridge over the river Alyn, bounding the churchyard of St. David s in Pembrokeshire, on the northern side. Read More »

Medieval Heretics and the Green Man

There is a general acceptance that the Green Man is a representation of a pagan deity, but this is not borne out by the abundance of Green Man carvings to be found on or within Christian churches. Could this contradiction be the clue that will lead to our understanding of this archaic figure? Why do we find the Green Many associated with churches? Read More »

Mullinakill Holy Well

Mullenakill is just one of several places that claim to be the birth place of St Moling. Read More »

Penmon and Saint Seiriol

Penmon is a parish found on the south-east tip of Ynys Môn (the Isle of Anglesey). Things to see here include Penmon Priory, Saint Seiriol’s Church, Saint Seiriol’s Well, a dovecote and the Penmon crosses. Read More »

Pershore Abbey

The Anglican Parish Church of Pershore Abbey was originally part of an Anglo Saxon abbey, the ruins of which were thought to be haunted in the early 20th century. Read More »

Rochdale Rush-Bearing

Rochdale Rushcart

As far as I am aware Rochdale no longer celebrates the Rush Bearing festival, though nearby Littleborough revived theirs in 1991 and continue to celebrate it each year. Below is description of how Rochdale and its Rush-Bearing from Lancashire Legends (1873) by John Harland & T T Wilkinson. Read More »

Rosslyn Chapel & Roslin Castle

Rosslyn Chapel

Rosslyn Chapel is touted as being one of the most mysterious places in Scotland, especially with the current gloat of books purporting to show how hidden secrets lurk within every crack of stone at this venerated place. Anybody who has ever visited the chapel may feel that it deserves its current status, and I must confess the atmosphere even on a busy day is something to be experienced. Read More »

Royston Cave

Underneath the streets of Royston, below the ancient Icknield way lies a secret cave, rediscovered in 1702 and dating back perhaps a thousand years. The cave, which is a bell shaped hole carved from the solid chalk, has a multitude of early Christian carvings depicting saints and religious scenes. Read More »

Ruthwell Cross

The cross is thought to date back to the late seventh century, an early period in the development of Christianity in the area, which spread here from Northumberland. It has been recognised as one of the most important early Christian crosses in Britain. Read More »

Saint Chad's Parish Church, Rochdale

The oldest parts of St Chad's Parish Church dates from the early 12th century and the original church built by Adam de Spotland. There is a siting legend attached to St Chad's which may date back to the construction of this early building. Read More »

Saint Cybi and Saint Cybi’s Church (Holyhead)

Saint Cybi was said to be the cousin of Saint David (~500- 1st March 589AD, there is uncertainty to the dates), the Patron Saint of Wales, and the friend of Saint Seiriol who founded his cell at Penmon on Ynys Môn (Anglesey) with whom he would regularly meet. Read More »

Saint Mary’s (and Saint Bodfan’s) Church, Llanaber

Llanaber Church

Almost two miles north of Barmouth on the A496 is the parish of Llanaber, and the not to be missed, Llanaber church. It dates from the early 13th Century, and is dedicated to St. Bodfan with a later dedication to the Virgin Mary. Read More »

Saint Tanwg’s Church

The intriguing Saint Tanwg’s Church is situated in the sand dunes at Llandanwg, which is at the mouth of the River Artro, opposite to Mochras (Shell Island). Read More »

Spynie Palace

Spynie Palace

Spynie Palace was the seat of the bishops of Moray for over 500 years; the atmospheric ruins now a shell of its former glory. The Palace - like many old historical buildings - has its share of traditions and ghost stories. Read More »

St Aelhaearn’s Church

St Aelhaearn’s Church

Located in the village of Llanaelhaearn, the church is named after Aelhaearn, a disciple of Saint Beuno who travelled to the area in the 5th and 6th Centuries. In Wales this period was known as the ‘Age of Saints’ but in England, as ‘The Dark Ages’. Read More »

St Aelhaearn’s Well

St Aelhaearn’s Well

This well can be found on the outskirts of the village of Llanaelhaearn, on the left hand side of the road as you ascend the (B4417) out of the village. It is enclosed in a locked stone structure which was constructed in 1900, and it is in front of a house called Bryn Iddon. Read More »

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