St Martin-in-the-Fields – early Christianity

Is 1,400-year-old treasure evidence of Christianity’s first foothold in Britain?

Archaeologists excavating near the edge of Trafalgar Square in London have found evidence of early Christianity in England, suggesting the area has a much older religious significance than was originally believed.

The treasure hoard in the empty grave consists of a gold pendant inlaid with blue-green glass; glass beads and fragments of silver (possibly a neck pendant); and two pieces of amethyst, possibly earrings.

The empty grave, judging by its treasure, and several of the other early graves in the cemetery are estimated to date from the time that Bertha was Queen of Kent – 590 to 610.

The excavations have also revealed a second mystery. At least one of the other graves was pre-Anglo-Saxon and dates from the very late Roman or immediate post-Roman period. The burial, in a stone sarcophagus, was also Christian – like virtually all the others – but was 200 years older.

This raises the possibility that the site had Christian links long before the conversion of Anglo-Saxon England, possibly as the location of a small church or mortuary chapel built there in the very late Roman period, immediately before the Anglo-Saxon pagan conquest. This would mean St Martin-in-the-Fields is London’s oldest surviving ecclesiastical site, predating St Paul’s by some two centuries.

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King Herod’s ancient tomb ‘found’

An Israeli archaeologist says he has found the tomb of King Herod, the ruler of Judea while it was under Roman administration in the first century BC.

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3 comments on “St Martin-in-the-Fields – early Christianity

  1. katknit says:

    I saw the Herod piece on the news, but not the St Martin’s. How exciting! That’s a special place. I’ll never forget listening to a group rehearse The 4 Seasons from a pew in the middle of that perfect church!
    Thanks for posting! Love your site…
    Linda

  2. katknit says:

    I was in the pew. The musicians were in front.

  3. saesferd says:

    Thank you for your post, katknit.
    Yes, the Herod’s tomb has been making the headlines somewhat and I saw it reported on the national television news, after I’d posted.
    The Museum of London Archaelogy Service has been excavating as part of the £36 million Renewal of St Martin-in-the-Fields.The Roman limestone sarcophagus was found at the end of last year, and dates from the late 4th or 5th century AD, very late in the Roman period.
    St Martin’s church has long been renown for its music and acoustic qualities, having hosted performances by both Handel and Mozart in the 18th century. Hearing the rehearsal for The Four Seasons must be one of those special moments that you will always remember!

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