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Site of Ancient Pagan Worship
- This is Finchampstead Church as
it is today.
- When St.
Augustine first brought Christianity to England, he told people to
turn the old pagan
temples into churches.
- Before today's Finchampstead
Church was built in Norman times, there was probably a Saxon
church on the site. Before that, there seems to have been a Roman
temple there. The earth bank around it can still be seen. We don't
know which Roman god it was dedicated to though.
- The hill was an ideal place for a
Roman temple. It could be seen for miles around.
- It stands just south of the old 'Devil's Highway', the Roman road that ran between Londinium
(London) and Calleva (Silchester, near Mortimer).
- Photographs taken from
aeroplanes show signs of buildings along the road. They were probably
hotels for pagan pilgrims.
- The church at Hampstead Norreys
also has a bank around it. There was probably a Roman temple there
too. It may have been dedicated to Jupiter, Chief of the Gods. An altar to Jupiter was
found nearby at Yattendon.
* * *
- Hover your mouse over the
photograph to see the area when the Roman temple was there.
- We don't exactly what the temple
looked like, but it was probably like this one. This is a type of
temple that was common in Roman Britain.
- It has a central room or 'cella'
where the god's statue and perhaps a sacred flame were kept. Then
there is an 'ambulatory' or covered walkway around the outside.
- Notice the bank and ditch
marking the sacred area or 'temenos'.
- Notice the busy stalls outside
selling souvenirs to the pagan pilgrims.
- Notice the priest and people
watching a sacrifice (the killing of an animal as a present to the