Escomb Saxon Church

WhereGreat Broughton Village HallType of EventSite Visit
WhenThursday 9th June 2016, 2pmTutor Mrs Gill Beddow

On Thursday 9th June 2016 fifteen history group members visited Escomb Church, near Bishop Auckland, for a guided tour of the building and its churchyard. The tour was led by Mrs Gill Beddow, wife of the late Revd. Beddow.

Apart from its intrinsic interest (Escomb Church is a well-preserved and largely unaltered stone Saxon church, incorporating Roman masonry in its construction) it is of significance to us in that its footprint is exactly that of the foundations of an earlier – and likely – Saxon church in St. Augustine’s churchyard, Kirkby. A few years ago the history group commissioned a geophysical survey of those foundations, together with some excavation.

There was a uniform pattern to Saxon churches in the north of England and therefore the early church to the north of the present St. Augustine’s may well have looked like Escomb. This speculation was given a further boost by the recent discovery in St. Augustine’s churchyard of the skeletal remains of a child, dating from the later Saxon period.

There is very little in the way of historical references to the early years of Escomb Church but architectural historians and archaeologists have agreed on a construction date of between 670 and 690 A.D. The church has a small, but fine, exhibition of its archaeological finds in the porch and boasts a sundial believed to be the earliest in the UK still in its original position.

The sun shone on our trip, the pub (The Saxon Inn!) was welcoming for lunch and our tour both fascinating and instructive.

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