Monday, March 7, 2011

Germanic Sacred Places and Objects in Britain

The Germanic invaders of the British Isles seem to have been less concerned with magic and with the aura of particular places in this world than were the Celts. The primary religious places among the non-Christian Northern Europeans were mythological: Yggdrasill or Von, the River of Expectation, formed by the slaver of the great wolf Fenrir. One exception might be burial mounds such as the one at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk, a place associated with King Raedwald, who was converted to Christianity during a visit to the court of King Ethelbert, who himself had been converted by Augustine, the founder of what was to become one of the holiest of British Christian centers, the monastery and cathedral at Canterbury. Of the fifteen burial mounds at Sutton Hoo, the largest, containing an eighty-nine-foot Anglo-Saxon boat, is thought to have been a memorial to Raedwald, who died in about 625 ce. The Sutton Hoo excavations brought to light an amazing collection of valuable objects of primarily “pagan” or non-Christian origin. We know that Raedwald’s wife was an adamant follower of the old Germanic religion and that her husband, even after his conversion, placed both Christian and non- Christian objects and altars in his place of worship.

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