Saxons, sunrise and the death of a Saint-King

by | 21 October 2017 | Heritage, Sherwood

Edwinstowe means ‘Edwin’s Holy Place’ and the report by Mercian Archaeological Services CIC, as part of the Sherwood Forest Archaeology Project (a community archaeology research project), has shown that Edwinstowe church, in the medieval period, pointed at the sunrise on 12th October, which is the saint day of St Edwin. The orientation of Edwinstowe church reveals secrets of a medieval cult in the heart of Sherwood Forest…

St Edwin’s day was the anniversary of King Edwin’s (first Christian King of Northumbria) death on the 12th October at the battle of Hatfield in the year 633AD, and in medieval times the people of Edwinstowe kept a vigil and held a feast on his saint’s day at the church.

This research helps to suggest that a cult of St Edwin was present in Edwinstowe in medieval times, and that the church there was the centre of that cult, most likely due to St Edwin’s body having been buried there following the Battle of Hatfield in 633AD.

It also gives new theories regarding the origins of St Edwin’s Chapel, as part of the designed medieval romantic Arthurian parkland landscape surrounding the royal palatial hunting complex of Clipstone, suggests new theories regarding the development of the village of Edwinstowe in Saxon and Medieval times, and suggests that Edwinstowe church may have been an important early Saxon Minster site.

This is potentially of great importance for the local area. To read the report and for a full account of the work and results see www.mercian-as.co.uk/reports/edwinstowe_church_survey_report_2017.pdf.