Early church organization in Skagafjörður, North Iceland. The results of the Skagafjörður Church Project

Early church organization in Skagafjörður, North Iceland. The results of the Skagafjörður Church Project

http://ojs.novus.no/index.php/CM/article/viewFile/1151/1142 003_Early church organization in Skagafjörður, North Iceland

The article discusses the results of the Skagafjörður Church project. The aim of the project is to establish the number and nature of the earliest, Christian cemeteries and churches in the county of Skagafjörður, north Iceland. By employing a systematic regional approach to the study of early Christian cemeteries, a more nuanced interpretation of early church development can be generated. The research suggests that at least 130 cemeteries may have been established in Skagafjörður in the 11th century, following the official adaption of Christianity AD 999/1000. The results indicate a swift adoption of Christian burial rites and cemetery architecture and that at first most independent farmsteads had their own Christian household cemetery. The apparent uniformity of burial customs and architecture suggests some form of management or communality from the outset. Many of these cemeteries appear to have gone out of use in the late 11th/ early 12th centuries, an indication of increasing ecclesiastical control.




The Early Christian Landscape of East Anglia

The Early Christian Landscape of East Anglia

1, Ely Cathedral and its towers rise above the surrounding landscape, so that it has long been known as the “Ship of the Fens”
Ely Cathedral


This paper explores aspects of the historical and archaeological evidence for the coming of Christianity to Anglo-Saxon East Anglia with a particular focus on the wide-scale restructuring of the landscape that the conversion precipitated. In order to establish the historical framework within which these events sit, it begins with an examination of the evidence presented by Bede in the Historia Ecclesiastica. Bede draws our attention to some of the ecclesiastical sites established by the early churchmen; a broader consideration of the conversion-period landscape reveals many important sites that are not mentioned in the surviving historical sources. In particular, disused Roman enclosures and topographically distinct locations can be demonstrated to have been of particular significance to the conversion process. The coming of Christianity also caused a great upheaval in the sites chosen for cemeteries, argued to be a direct result of a changing attitude towards the dead, which resulted in the integration of cemeteries and settlements during the Middle Saxon period.
Finally, this paper offers some suggestions about how we might take the study of the conversion-period landscape further.

Christian Ancient Burial Places

Journal of Anthropology and Archaeology
June 2014, Vol.2, No. 1, pp. 57-73
ISSN: 2334-2420 (Print), 2334-2439 (Online)
Copyright © The Author(s). 2014.
All Rights Reserved.
Published by American Research Institute for Policy Development LINK
Dr. Peter Caban
Culture of a nation is expressed in the methods of burial. This sentence characterizes the basic archeological attitude towards the burial and all the related activities in the Christian antiquity. Natural desire of a human being that memory of him could be preserved in the next generations is visible in the methods of burying of the dead. In the burial places we find the archeological testimonies of the natural historical and religious environment where a human person– a Christian–lived, prayed and worked.

The Beauty of the Cross

A book: vilades1 (see: http://barnascha.narod.ru/books/vilades1.pdf)

The Beauty of the Cross
The Passion of Christ in Theology and the Arts, from the Catacombs to theEve of the Renaissance by Richard Viladesau
1. The Beauty and the Scandal of the Cross, 3
2. The Cross in the New Testament and the Patristic Paradigm, 19
3. The Monastic Paradigm and the Romanesque Style, 57
4. The Theology of High Scholasticism and Gothic Art, 87
5. Nominalism, Naturalism, and the Intensification of Passion
Piety, 137
Appendix: Web Sites for Viewing Artworks, 174
Notes, 175
Index, 211


by Richard Viladesau

C7ycfJ5XwAAk6hTThis volume represents the first part of a study of the concept and the symbol of the cross in Christian theology and imagination. Eachof the chapters will examine the theology of the cross in both its conceptual and aesthetic mediations within a specific historical context, from the early church to the eve of the Renaissance.
The first chapter is methodological. After explaining the notion of aesthetic theology and its relationship to theoretical, conceptual theology, it sets forth the specific problem to be examined here: the Christian perception of “the cross”—that is, the suffering and death of Jesus—as a salvific event. Finally, it deals with the ideas of paradigms, styles, and classics that will guide the progress of the book’sexposition.
The following chapters attempt to correlate theological paradigms of interpretation of the cross—that is, a particular aspect of Christian soteriology—with artistic styles that were more or lesscontemporaneous with the theological ideas of each paradigm, or that illustrate a parallel theological attitude.
Each chapter begins with a representation of the crucifix that in some way exemplifies the focus of the chapter. There follows an examination of themes from representative theological writings on soteriology and a consideration of artistic developments that are to some extent parallel, or that can be seen to embody similar themes and reactions to the cross. The general method, then, is one of correlation between two kinds of interpretation of the Christian tradition and of human experience: between theology as explicit systematic
thought and as affective and communicative images. The justification and general principles of a method that takes the aesthetic realm as a theological locus have been expressed in my previous works, and here willonly be briefly summarized.
Within the aesthetic realm, this volume will emphasize especially visual and poetic art, both liturgical and nonliturgical. Poetry (including especially the texts of hymns) often provides a clear but also imaginative and affective expression of theological ideas. Visual images of the passion can also be correlated to general theological themes; but, as we shall see, their connection to more particular theories of salvation is often ambiguous. The illustrations will allow us to look closely at several classical works that are representative of larger movements in art. Other visual artworks referred to in the text unfortunately
cannot be reproduced here; but in an appendix I refer the reader to various
Web sites where they may be viewed.
This book is intended for a general audience: educated lay people, students, artists who wonder about theology, theologians who have little knowledge of the arts. But I hope it may also to be of use to scholars who wish to pursue the topic further. Hence I have included footnotes not only to indicate my sources and occasionally to suggest further lines of thought but also to provide a number of significant theological quotations in their original language.
Finally, it should be noted that my ultimate project is one of systematic theology. This book is not intended as a text in historical theology, per se, nor, a fortiori, as art history. It is rather an exploration of historical themes, ideas, and images that are the necessary background to a contemporary theology of the cross. I have therefore not pursued in detail many questions of dating, influence, and context that would be important to the historian. On such topics, this book needs the complement of more detailed studies by specialists. On
the other hand, this volume remains within the realm of exposition of historical data, and within a limited period. A projected future volume will extend this study from the Renaissance to the contemporary era, and will undertake the further task of correlation of these historical data with contemporary intepretations of Christian experience.

2009-Largest ever hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold found in Staffordshire


Largest ever hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold found in Staffordshire


Source: the discovery told by https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2009/sep/24/anglo-saxon-treasure-hoard-gold-staffordshire-metal-detector

Article from the Guardian
“First pieces of gold were found in a farm field by an amateur metal detector who lives alone on disability benefit

A harvest of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver so beautiful it brought tears to the eyes of one expert, has poured out of a Staffordshire field – the largest hoard of gold from the period ever found.

The weapons and helmet decorations, coins and Christian crosses amount to more than 1500 pieces, with hundreds still embedded in blocks of soil. It adds up to 5kg of gold – three times the amount found in the famous Sutton Hoo ship burial in 1939 – and 2.5kg of silver, and may be the swag from a spectacularly successful raiding party of warlike Mercians, some time around AD700.

The first scraps of gold were found in July in a farm field by Terry Herbert, an amateur metal detector who lives alone in a council flat on disability benefit, who had never before found anything more valuable than a nice rare piece of Roman horse harness. The last pieces were removed from the earth by a small army of archaeologists a fortnight ago.

Herbert could be sharing a reward of at least £1m, possibly many times that, with the landowner, as local museums campaign to raise funds to keep the treasure in the county where it was found.

Leslie Webster, former keeper of the department of prehistory at the British Museum, who led the team of experts and has spent months poring over metalwork, described the hoard as “absolutely the equivalent of finding a new Lindisfarne Gospels or Book of Kells”.

“This is going to alter our perceptions of Anglo-Saxon England as radically, if not more so, as the Sutton Hoo discoveries,” she predicted.

The gold includes spectacular gem studded pieces decorated with tiny interlaced beasts, which were originally the ornamentation for Anglo-Saxon swords of princely quality: the experts would judge one a spectacular discovery, but the field has yielded 84 pommel caps and 71 hilt collars, a find without precedent.

The hoard has just officially been declared treasure by a coroner’s inquest, allowing the find which has occupied every waking hour of a small army of experts to be made public at Birmingham City Museum, where all the pieces have been brought for safe keeping and study.

The find site is not being revealed, in case the ground still holds more surprises, even though archaeologists have now pored over every inch of it without finding any trace of a grave, a building or a hiding place.

The field is now under grass, but had been ploughed deeper than usual last year by the farmer, which the experts assume brought the pieces closer to the surface. Herbert reported it as he has many previous small discoveries to Duncan Slarke, the local officer for the portable antiquities scheme, which encourages metal detectorists to report all their archaeological finds. Slarke recalled: “Nothing could have prepared me for that. I saw boxes full of gold, items exhibiting the very finest Anglo-Saxon workmanship. It was breathtaking.”

As archaeologists poured into the field, along with experts including a crack metal detecting scheme from the Home Office who normally work on crime scene forensics, Herbert brought one friend sworn to secrecy to watch, but otherwise managed not to breath a word to anyone – even the fellow members of his metal detecting society when they boasted of their own latest finds.

None of the experts, including a flying squad from the British Museum shuttling between London and Birmingham, has seen anything like it in their lives: not just the quantity, but the dazzling quality of the pieces have left them groping for superlatives.

They are still arguing about the date some of the pieces were made, the date they went into the ground, and the significance of most seemingly wrenched off objects they originally decorated. There are three Christian crosses, but they were folded up as casually as shirt collars. A strip of gold with a biblical inscription was also folded in half: it reads, in occasionally misspelled Latin, “Rise up O Lord, and may thy enemies be dispersed and those who hate the be driven from thy face.”

Kevin Leahy, an expert on Anglo-Saxon metal who originally trained as a foundry engineer, and who comes from Burton-on-Trent, has been cataloguing the find and describes the craftsmanship as “consummate”, but the make up of the hoard as unbalanced.

“There is absolutely nothing feminine. There are no dress fittings, brooches or pendants. These are the gold objects most commonly found from the Anglo-Saxon ere. The vast majority of items in the hoard are martial – war gear, especially sword fittings.”

If the date of between AD650 and AD750 is correct, it is too early to blame the Vikings, and just too early for the most famous local leader, Offa of Offa’s Dyke fame.

Leahy said he was not surprised at the find being in Staffordshire, the heartland of the “militarily aggressive and expansionist” 7th century kings of Mercia including Penda, Wulfhere and Æthelred. “This material could have been collected by any of these during their wars with Northumbria and East Anglia, or by someone whose name is lost to history. Here we are seeing history confirmed before our eyes.”

Deb Klemperer, head of local history collections at the Potteries museum, and an expert on Saxon Staffordshire pottery, said: “My first view of the hoard brought tears to my eyes – the Dark Ages in Staffordshire have never looked so bright nor so beautiful.”

The most important pieces will be on display at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery from tomorrow until Tuesday October 13, and will then go to the British Museum for valuation – a process which will involve another marathon collaboration between experts. Their best guess today is “millions”.

Leahy, who still has hundreds of items to add to his catalogue, has in the past excavated several Anglo-Saxon sites including a large cemetery of clay pots full of cremated bone. He said: “After all those urns I think I deserve the Staffordshire find.”

Mysteries of Mercia

It is no longer politically correct to refer to the period as the dark ages – but Anglo-Saxon England remains a shadowy place, with contradictory and confusing sources and archaeology. Yet out of it came much that is familiar in modern Britain, including its laws, its parish boundaries, a language that came to dominate the world, as well as metalwork and manuscript illumination of dazzling intricacy and beauty.

Mercia was one of Britain’s largest and most aggressive kingdoms, stretching from the Humber to London, its kings and chieftains mounting short but ferocious wars against all their neighbours, and against one another: primogeniture had to wait for the Normans, so it was rare for a king to reign unchallenged and die in his bed.

They were nominally Christian by the date of the Staffordshire hoard, but sources including the Venerable Bede suggest that their faith was based more on opportune alliances than fervour.

In south Staffordshire, at the heart of the kingdom, Tamworth was becoming the administrative capital and Lichfield the religious centre as the cult grew around the shrine of Saint Chad. There were few other towns, and most villages were still small settlements of a few dozen thatched buildings. Travel, if essential, would have been easier by boat: archaeology suggests that much of the Roman road network was decaying, and in many places scrub and forest was taking back land which had been farmed for centuries.

The metalwork in the hoards came from a world very remote from the lives of most people, in mud and wattle huts under thatched roofs, living by farming, hunting, fishing, almost self-sufficient with their own weavers, potters and leather workers, needing to produce only enough surplus to pay dues to the land owner. A failing harvest would have been a far greater disaster than a battle lost or the death of one king and the rise of another.

The world of their nobles is vividly evoked in poems like Beowulf, probably transcribed long after they became familiar as fireside recitations, of summer warfare and winter feasting in the beer hall, where generous gift giving was as important as wealth.

Rich and poor lived in the incomprehensible shadow of a vanished civilisation, the broken cement and stone teeth of Roman ruins studding the countryside, often regarded with dread and explained as the work of giants or sorcerers. One poem in Old English evokes the eerie ruins of a bathing place, possibly Bath itself: “death took all the brave men away, their places of war became deserted places, the city decayed.”

See also: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2579038/Anglo-Saxon-hoard-revealed-4-000-pieces-stunning-handcrafted-treasure-hint-Beowolfs-description-golden-warriors-true.html





2008 – Treasure hunter finds £25K Anglo Saxon gold cross


images and article:


A metal detectorist trudging through a muddy field was amazed when he discovered a pure gold cross dating from the 7th century – and worth at least £25,000.

See also: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/leicestershire/7574992.stm

2012 – Mystery of Anglo-Saxon teen buried in bed with gold cross

Press Review – Source: http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/mystery-of-anglo-saxon-teen-buried-in-bed-with-gold-cross

Mar 16, 2012

– Images: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2115526/Anglo-Saxon-grave-reveals-16-year-old-girl-laid-rest-gold-cross.html


“Extraordinary 7th century discovery on outskirts of Cambridge offers unique insights into the origins of English Christianity”.

Article in CAM:

“One of the earliest Anglo-Saxon Christian burial sites in Britain has been discovered in a village outside Cambridge. The grave of a teenage girl from the mid 7th century AD has an extraordinary combination of two extremely rare finds: a ‘bed burial’ and an early Christian artefact in the form of a stunning gold and garnet cross.

The girl, aged around 16, was buried on an ornamental bed – a very limited Anglo-Saxon practice of the mid to later 7th century – with a pectoral Christian cross on her chest, that had probably been sewn onto her clothing. Fashioned from gold and intricately set with cut garnets, only the fifth of its kind ever to be found, the artefact dates this grave to the very early years of the English Church, probably between 650 and 680 AD.

In 597 AD, the pope dispatched St Augustine to England on a mission to convert the pagan Anglo-Saxon kings; a process that was not completed for many decades. Using the latest scientific techniques to analyse this exceptional find could result in a greater understanding of this pivotal period in British history, and the spread of Christianity in eastern England in the Anglo-Saxon period.

Was this teenage girl an early Christian convert, a standard-bearer for the new God? “Christian conversion began at the top and percolated down,” says Dr Sam Lucy, a specialist in Anglo-Saxon burial from Newnham College, Cambridge.

“To be buried in this elaborate way with such a valuable artefact tells us that this girl was undoubtedly high status, probably nobility or even royalty. This cross is the kind of material culture that was in circulation at the highest level of society. The best known example of the pectoral cross was that found in the coffin of St Cuthbert now in Durham Cathedral.”

“That this is a bed burial is remarkable in itself – the fifteenth ever uncovered in the UK, and only the fourth in the last twenty years – add to that a beautifully made Christian cross and you have a truly astonishing discovery,” says Alison Dickens, who led the excavation for the University’s Archaeological Unit.

“We think there’s only been one other bed burial combined with a Christian pectoral cross ever found – at Ixworth nearby in Suffolk in the 19th century; the records of this find are unclear, however. The fact that we will be able to apply modern techniques to thoroughly investigate the site is a thrilling prospect.”

The bed consisted of a wooden frame held together by metal brackets, with further pieces of looped metal fixing the cross-slats to create a suspended bed base, similar to modern beds, but with a straw mattress. The body was then placed on the bed, probably when it was already in the grave.

Dr Richard Dance, an expert on Old English at the University, has pointed out that the Anglo-Saxon word ‘leger’ can mean either ‘bed’ or ‘grave’. “Etymologically, the word means ‘place where one lies’, but there are examples of this meaning both bed and grave in literature of the time,” says Dr Dance. A clue to the possible symbolism of bed burials perhaps? But why only a chosen few were buried in their beds remains a mystery.

“Bed burials were never widespread, but there is a little cluster around the Cambridge area and another in Wessex, with a solitary very high status example in Teeside” says Dr Lucy. “Where we do find them they seem to be predominantly burials of females, and date to the mid to later 7th century; most have indications of high status such as fine jewellery or burial under a barrow.

The gold and garnet construction of the Trumpington cross also tends to be used for female associated items, although the recently discovered Staffordshire Hoard, as well as the slightly earlier famous ship burial at Sutton Hoo, show that such material was also used in high status weapon fittings throughout the 7th century. It is interesting that the same decorative techniques are seen both in overtly pagan and overtly Christian settings.”

The cross itself – 3 and a half centimetres in diameter – is only the fifth pectoral cross to be discovered in the UK. As well as the examples from Ixworth and Durham, one example was picked up as a stray find in Holderness, East Yorkshire, and another was a 19th-century find from Wilton in Norfolk. These other crosses are pendants designed to hang suspended on a necklace, whereas the Trumpington cross has a loop on the reverse of each arm, so that it could be stitched directly onto clothing.

“You can tell from the shiny look of three of these loops, where they have rubbed against fabric, that this item was worn in daily life, most likely as a symbol of social status as well as religious affiliation,” says Dickens.

The excavations at Trumpington Meadows on the southern city limits of Cambridge, funded by the property developers Grosvenor, have unearthed significant findings from the Neolithic and Iron Ages, as well as material from a contemporary Anglo-Saxon settlement. The Christian girl was in one of a very small group of four graves, along with an unsexed individual in his or her twenties and two other slightly younger women.

The graves are thought to be broadly contemporary with each other, although the team are only at the very beginning of the investigative process. This will include radiocarbon dating of each of the bodies (to establish their date of burial) and isotopic analysis of their bones and teeth, to help determine both their diet and hopefully to establish where they had lived in childhood.

Detailed study of their skeletons will be able to tell, in addition to their sex and age, their stature, health and any visible medical conditions. Analysis of the gold and garnets in the cross will also reveal further details about its place of manufacture; garnets in this period were probably imported from the Black Sea or even further afield, from Asia.

The teenager’s grave also contained other items. An iron knife and a chatelaine (a chain that would have hung from the waist) were found in the girl’s grave, along with some glass beads which seemed to have been kept in a purse on the end of the chain. Preserved textile on the iron knife and chain offers the possibility of reconstructing her burial costume.

“The custom of grave goods was long-established in the pagan period, but it doesn’t mean that the burials at Trumpington weren’t Christian” states Dr Lucy. “The church never issued any edicts against the use of grave goods, but it’s something that does seem to fade away by the 8th century, just at the point where Christianity was becoming the dominant religion. There is, though, a time through the second half of the 7th century, where clearly Christian people were still making use of a limited range of goods within their burials, and these often carried explicitly Christian symbolism, such as the cross here.

“The Trumpington bed burial does seem to belong at that transition between the two religions. Did she have a formal role in the church? The site is just behind the village church, which is first documented over 400 years later. Perhaps there was a monastery – even a nunnery – there before that we don’t know about. This is certainly something worth looking into.”

A small number of structures associated with the burials seem to represent part of a settlement that was in use at the same time. Analysis of the finds from these will help to determine the nature and function of that settlement; initial assessment of the pottery has suggested the presence of some high status imports, of a type usually only associated with high status ecclesiastical centres.

There may even be a possible link to the founding of the first monastery in Ely at around the same time. St Æthelthryth (or Etheldreda), daughter of King Anna of East Anglia, established the female-headed house at Ely in 673 AD. A cemetery found in Ely by the CAU in 2006 also contained a later 7th-century burial of a 10-12 year-old with a delicate gold cross pendant, who was thought to have been associated with the monastery. The parallels between this site and Trumpington are intriguing, and suggest a more interesting origin for the village than has previously been thought”.


Plaque with Scenes at Emmaus

Source: https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/1970.324.1/


“This plaque probably once served as the side panel of a small, luxuriously crafted box made for a church. The decorative animal and floral motifs on the border were originally inlaid with gold. The animated carving in the center shows two scenes from the life of Christ. At the left, Christ appears after his resurrection to two disciples on the road to Emmaus. They do not recognize him, but invite him, with bold gestures, to dine with them. At the right, the three have supper within the town walls of Emmaus, and it is there, in the breaking of the bread, where Christ’s identity is revealed”.




Date: ca. 850–900

Geography: Made in northern France

Culture: Carolingian

Medium: Elephant ivory

Dimensions: Overall: 4 9/16 x 9 1/4 x 1/4 in. (11.5 x 23.5 x 0.6 cm)

Classification: Ivories

Credit Line: The Cloisters Collection, 1970

Accession Number: 1970.324.1


“Among the finest ivory carvings in the Cloisters collection, this plaque depicts Christ’s appearance to two of his disciples after his Resurrection. Christ, who is distinguished by his halo, meets the disciples along the road to the town of Emmaus, near Jerusalem. As described in the Gospel of Luke (24:13–35), although not recognizing Christ, they urge him to stay in town with them. Once within Emmaus, they finally recognize him as he breaks bread for their shared evening meal. Judging from the horizontal format and the recesses along the top edge to accommodate hinges, this plaque once served as the back panel of a small coffret. Originally, the recessed images of birds and flowers in the border were filled with gold foil”.

High Crosses

by Catherine E. Karkov


High crosses are freestanding stone sculptures that are a feature of early medieval art in England, Ireland, Scotland, and, to a lesser extent, Wales. They are distinct from cross slabs, which are shaped slabs decorated with relief carvings of crosses and sometimes other types of decoration on one or both sides. The exact origins of the high cross are controversial. Much debate continues concerning in which area they were developed first. In terms of their form, the influence of prehistoric insular standing stones, the Jupiter and victory columns of the Roman world, and Early Christian processional crosses all have been cited. Surviving monuments suggest that high crosses first appeared in the 8th century and that their popularity varied both regionally and chronologically. In England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales they tended to disappear after the 10th or early 11th century, while in Ireland they remained popular well into the later Middle Ages. They also vary greatly in size (some are no more than a meter high, while others rise to 5 meters or more) and in decorative programs. In England and Scotland, for example, the earlier crosses are generally the most complex, but that is not the case in Ireland. (Note that high crosses are also discussed in the Oxford Bibliographies article Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture; see that article for general bibliographies as well.)


The high cross is one of the characteristic monuments of Anglo-Saxon England. The vast majority of crosses date from the early Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Scandinavian periods (8th through 10th centuries), and they are located in the north of England. The southern examples not only are fewer in number, but they tend to receive far less scholarly attention than do their northern counterparts. As is true with Anglo-Scandinavian sculpture in general, Anglo-Scandinavian high crosses (the Gosforth Cross, for example) often display a greater secular content than do their Anglian counterparts. There are surprisingly few overviews of English high crosses, perhaps due to the large number of monuments that survive and the range of forms that they take. In general, pre-10th-century crosses are monastic sculptures, while the Anglo-Scandinavian period sees a marked increase in secular patronage. The first place to go for information on any individual sculpture is the Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture. Collingwood 1989 (originally published in 1927) was the first systematic attempt to classify the Northumbrian crosses, and it remains a good introduction to the field, even if some of the author’s dates and conclusions have been proved wrong. Brown 1903–1937 is equally out of date, but it is an excellent source for early understanding of the crosses, especially their iconography, and for anyone interested in the historiography of the subject. Mitchell 2001 is also excellent for the information it provides on why some of the early crosses were erected. Karkov and Orton 2003 is useful for its new approaches to the study of Anglo-Saxon stone sculpture”.

Fragment of Saxon cross

7b450319849ac0e8dd16c8b97c76ba7e7653a4ce“Kingston upon Thames, or Cyninges-tun as it was known in Saxon times, plays an important part in Anglo-Saxon history, for two main reasons. First, in 838 AD King Egbert of Wessex held a Great Council at Kingston. Second, Kingston was the site of the coronation of at least two, and possibly as many as seven, Saxon Kings, including Athelstan, crowned in 925 and generally regarded as the first man who could be called King of England. Both events took place on the site now occupied by All Saints Church, the earliest parts of which are Norman.

This picture is of a fragment of stone found when All Saints was being restored in Victorian times. Enough remains to show that its two sides were decorated with elaborately contrived interlaced patterns carved in relief. These make it almost certain that the stone once formed part of the shaft of a tall stone cross. The decoration is so worn and incomplete as to make only the most approximate dating possible, but the cross was probably erected at some time between the late 7th and the early 11th century, so it is possible that it would have been standing at the time of the coronation of Athelstan, or even at the Great Council of 838″.