Paxtonvic’s Blog

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Ancient – and not so ancient history.

It was lovely to see my sister Helen again today who came by train from manchester along with my nephew Simon. We spent some time with my Mum in her nursing home and then came back to the vicarage. Sitting in the garden it wasnt long before the family photographs came out – and there were images of all of us as young children – from my mum onwards looking out of the pages innocently. 85  years or so captured in a few pages of black and white pictures.  Time is a big mystery to me – the present moment as elusive as water which we may try to capture in our hands but which flows away no sooner as have you grasped it.

helen august 26th 09 in garden

Paxtonvic’s sister Helen looking at some old photos.

In these days of sitting with Mum in her fraility – and now mental fraility as well, I am more and more drawn to history. Both family and local and indeed Christianity’s history in these parts.

I found a copy of ” A History of Huntingdonshire” by Michael Wickes on my bookshelf I didnt even know I had and have enjoyed a few chapters this evening. Michael was part of a workcamp at Little Gidding in the 1970’s which I was on too and became a very gifted historian and writer, living for some time at Little Gidding and working in the Cromwell museum in Huntingdon. He moved to Devon and believe it or not I remembered that it was in the grounds of his house that back in 1980 I camped  on honeymoon. It wasnt his fault that it rained all night and the tent  was afloat in the morning!

When I went back to Little Giiding last year I learnt that Michael had very sadly died – I was very sorry to hear that but was glad I had met him all those years ago. Its a great book on the old county of Huntingdon and I will quote a few lines from the opening chapters that particularly caught my attention.

From Chaper 2 – Roman Huningdonshire:

” Most of the farmland on the banks of the Ouse was worked by groups of Romano-British people living in settlements scattered along the valley floor. Romano-British farmsteads have been located at Stirtloe near Buckden, the Brickhills estate neay Eyenesbury… Little Paxton and St Ives. Numerous Roman-British reamins have been found at…..Great Paxton, Eaton Ford and Monks Hardwick north-eat of St Neots.

( Now I want to know what has been found and where in our parishes here!)

“Objects found in the Ouse valley indicate the presence of a multi-religious society in this area during the Roman period. Three successive temples have been excavated at Godmanchester, near the mansio and bath-house. They were apparantly dedicated to a local  C eltic  god judging from the discovery of a group of bronze votive plaques at the site, unknown elsewhere, this god was possibly a local deity of the Ouse.”

We are talking here of c 300 AD or so – our area here where partly at least celtic/ pagan god/s were worshipped.

But how aboout this bit…. ” Numerous finds in the Nene valley attest to the great prospoerity of the region during the later Roman period…..The two most famous discoveries are the  the mid-fourth-century hoard of gold coins and the late third-century hoard of church silver – found within the walls of Durobrivae – ( a Roman site  in the extreme north west of the old county of Huntingdon)  The hoard of church silver is the earliest collection of Christian church plate found anywhere in the Roman empire  and it demonstrates that Christianity has taken hold in an outlying Roman province before it was officiallyrecognized by the Imperial government. It is now on display in the Bristish museum”

So, on our doorstep – such early Christin artefacts from the late third century. Who were the first Chrsitian converts in the Paxton area? At what point did people in this area  stop worshipping celtic  deities and convert to Christ?  Great Paxton we know was our mother church, built pre 1066 – but what of Christianity before that date -of which we know so little. No wonder these years are called the ” dark ages” !

August 27, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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