The original Saxson Preaching Cross outside the ChurchThe original Saxon Preaching cross outside the Church

St. Peters Church 
Conisbrough, South Yorkshire

The official website of South Yorkshire's Oldest Building

 

Early Tombs

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Early Tombs

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The Ravens Tomb

The Photograph below is of a grave slab thought to be of Saxon origin. This is based largely on the two carvings of birds, believed to be Ravens as used in Saxon Heraldry

 
 

The Tomb Chest

One of the treasures of St. Peter's is an ornate tomb chest, now resting in the South Aisle. It depicts several scenes, including a Knight defending a Bishop against a Dragon. This is taken to metaphorically represent the battle of good over evil. It is said to have been intended to stand vertically on its plain end, in a corner. This would put all the figures on their sides.

This tomb chest / monument is described as 'Romanesque' and reported in great detail in the Yorkshire Archaeological Journal No. 73, dated 2001.

 

 

The Norman Burial

 

Back in the 11th and 12th centuries Christians and the Church of Rome believed that souls of the departed would be held in judgment by God. Thus the belief in good people arriving in Heaven, and that bad people would arrive in the warmer climate of Hell upon their death. With the added belief that for a good person to go to Heaven he must be buried in ground that had been blessed [ Holy Ground ]  Churches benefited by charging a fee for the right of burial within their churchyard, and often bodies were buried on top of each other. In the early centuries Grave markers were not used.

The wooden coffin we know today came into existence as a widely used item during the 13oo's around about the time of the plague, which is understandable as the amount of deaths and the rate of death would require swift burials during that time. Though often the corpse was burnt.

From those early burials customs changed in how a person was buried, and also the varying artefacts with which they were buried. These things make it somewhat easier when trying to date an ancient coffin or tomb.

Also the depth varied from the shallow early graves to the six feet depth of today. Traditionally Graves were in a line of East to West

The less wealthy people were buried in Church Graveyards, whilst the wealthier Nobles etc often chose to be buried in Monasteries or within the Church itself, as is noted in these pages.

 

The Relocation of the Tombs

In 1956, permission was granted to the local authority to widen Church Street in Conisbrough. This involved taking down a 1.5 metre high retaining wall, cutting back the Churchyard, and rebuilding the wall. A proviso stated that no photographs or records be kept of the ancient burials that would certainly be disturbed. Also that they had to be reburied nearby, within the Churchyard unmarked as before. Before the demolition of the wall commenced, one half of a grave cover was visible built into the retaining wall. Carved on it was the tip of a sword. Historians of the village, record that the remains of a Knight, with sword and shield were uncovered and reburied in accordance with the conditions of the works.

This half of the grave cover is now in the Church.

 

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All content unless stated otherwise Šopyright Parish Council of St. Peters.

Formatting and transcription on this site Šopyright John Doxey.