St. Oswald's Church,
The present building is probably the third on the site of what is believed to be the location where King Oswald (604 -642) raised a large wooden cross before the Battle of Heavenfield (AD 635). Foundations of a Saxon church were discovered by dowsing in the 1950s, this being succeeded by a mediaeval church replaced in 1817 with the present building. The fragment of dog-tooth ornament inside the church on the north wall may be the only visible remains of the second church, unless the font is of that date.
The significance of the outcome of the Battle of Heavenfield lies in the re-establishment of Celtic Christianity which led to the Golden Age of the Kingdom of Northumbria. The influence of this great movement spread to the Continent and is of special significance in Germany, Eastern France, Switzerland and Northern Italy.
Churches dedicated to Saint Oswald are found in Britain and North Western Europe, as well as in Africa, Canada, Australia, the United States and Pakistan.
St. Oswald's stands in a churchyard set in the middle of a field, about four hundred yards from the B6318 at National Grid Ref. NY 937696. The field and the churchyard can be entered by gates which should be shut after passing through them. The Churchyard has some excellent trees in it. The gravestones are of various periods, but the most decipherable date from the late 1800s onwards.
The church itself has a simple chancel divided at the west end into a vestry, the rest being the body of the church. On the roof there is a simple belfry-arch for the single bell, rung during services. An unusual feature is the sundial on the south wall.
The interior is of limewashed stone without any plaster, with a font set near a Roman altar re-used as a cross base at some (possibly mediaeval) date. A fragment of dog-tooth ornament set in the north wall halfway up the church indicates re-use of stone from a church of possibly Norman or Early Mediaeval date.
A wall-mounted lozenge 'hatchment' bearing the coat of arms of the Clarke family, is mounted on the north wall. This recently-restored feature would have been put up at the front of the family house when a death had occurred recently. The motto 'Resurgam' (I shall arise) thus refers to the hope of resurrection as well as to the family itself.
The most unusual feature to the 21st century visitor is the gas-lighting with its mantles and glass-shielded burners in the roof, and the candle-holders set in the walls. These and the old American harmonium show that St. Oswald's has never been connected to electricity, mains gas or water supplies, and witness the modest background of this tiny church.
An excellent display on the history of both the church and the battlefield is on screens in the vestry.
Saint Oswald's Saint's Day is on 5th August. This page was prepared as the webmaster's personal contribution to the 1400th anniversary of the birth of King Oswald and the merit of the church and congregation at Heavenfield.
The following services are held at St. Oswald's Heavenfield. Most are held on Sundays, starting at 10:30 a.m. These are :-
The Church is licensed for the performance of Baptisms, Marriages and Funerals.
Running from St. Oswald's Heavenfield up through Northumberland to the ruins of the monastery on Holy Island (Lindisfarne) this is both an excellent long-distance walk and a route for modern pilgrims. For more details go to http://www.stoswaldsway.com.
The Friends have two objects :-
(a) To arouse and further interest in St. Oswald's Church and the site of the Battle of Heavenfield.
(b) To assist the Vicar and Churchwardens with funds to preserve the fabric of the Church and assist in the preservation and enrichment of ornaments and furnishings of the Church and maintenance of its services.
Funds are used for :-
(a) The maintenance of the fabric - walls, roof, windows and doors.
(b) The upgrading of furnishings - kneelers, seats, church accoutrements, sanctuary fittings.
(c) Increase of facilities for services both for the local community and visiting groups and pilgrims. (d) Regular revision and re-appraisal of the visual display and exhibition in the vestry.
The site is a very exposed one and as it has no electricity or water and no permanent heating system, the church and its contents are vulnerable to extremes of temperature and to damp. Funds are always needed to help with maintenance.
Friends pay an annual subscription of £ 5 (GBP) or £ 12 for any group representing a Church, School, Society or Business Enterprise. Additional donations will always help to maintain the Church.
To join, send a subscription payment (Crossed Cheque or Postal Order) and a letter with your name, address, postcode and telephone number, to the Membership Secretary. If preferred, you can pay by Banker's Order and can request the appropriate form instead of sending payment direct. Please do not send banknotes or coins in the post.
For further information, please contact :-
The Friends of St. Oswald's Church Heavenfield
Newcastle on Tyne
Enquiries about this page can also be forwarded by e-mail through
Richard Edkins, firstname.lastname@example.org
This may include requests for a free exchange of Links to this page; link requests will be considered and will be added if judged relevant.
This page on St. Oswalds at Heavenfield prepared by