Thursday, 24 October 2013

Pilgrimage in Cerne

4th September

Walking down to St. Augustine's
Another adventure for the WITS team this week, as we paid the village of Cerne Abbas a visit walking in the footsteps of our Anglo Saxon monk and first Bishop of Sherborne, St Aldhelm. Trying to piece together his movements is difficult as their is little written evidence or maps from this period of the "dark ages" We know he was busy visiting Christians in Dorset from 705 until 709 and going on his own pilgrimages during this time and earlier. So acting as history detectives armed with a few clues we searched for more evidence of an early Anglo Saxon presence in the area.

The village has some ancient paths converging on it and is a likely route for St Aldhelm to follow coming down from Sheborne on his way to Wareham to visit a nearby convent port and when he went on a long pilgrimage to Rome. Cerne Abbas besides being known for the famous giant on one of the hillsides, is also host to St. Augustne's Well which, founded later than our period but the spring would have been a source of clean water and could have been a  resting place in    St Aldhelm's time.

Outside the Saxon barn, otherwise
known as 'Beauvoir Court'.  

Besides taking in the beautifully preserved buildings of the different ages in the village, we also ventured up to visit a former Saxon barn, originally knows as 'North Barn' now known now as 'Beauvoir Court', as the WITS team found from their research that the building which could have been constructed as early as the 700's  as the stone work bears a striking resemblance to that of St. Lawrence’s Church, in Bradford-on-Avon near Bath dated 709. St Aldhelm as well as being a musician and poet was also a builder, did he help draw up the plans?! The building later became linked to the Benedictine Abbey gate built in 987 a little bit of stone work it left of arch join. The building, which has been well-preserved under the ownership of the Lord Digby, was also ran as a vet surgery. Left is the group could admiring its fine masonry from the outside.

Like many other aspects of our investigation, Cerne Abbas is one great puzzle yet to be unravelled...

A volunteer making a prayer wish at the
well that St Aldhelm may have rested by

The group resting at the well

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