MORE STRANGE GOINGS ON...
A stone’s throw over Herts’ northern border, at Holy Trinity in Chrishall, the phenomenon of ‘eaves-drip burials’ has been found. During an archaeological dig for the remains of the early Christian church on the site, a cache of infant bodies was found clustered under the eaves of the old building. The folk explanation for this is that the water, passing over a holy building, would bless those who died before baptism.
St Mary’s in Ashwell, built from an unusually soft stone, is a palimpsest of ancient graffiti, including the chilling testimony of villagers during the Black Death. In 1361, one survivor wrote of the plague of 1350 as ‘pitiable, fierce violent’ and how ‘a wretched populace’ now remained. On a lighter note, a later graffiti artist scratched, ‘the Archdeacon is an ass’.
Breeding stones Puddingstone is a concretelike conglomerate that is almost completely unique to Hertfordshire, and features as a building material in the walls of many of the county’s churches. The rock has been a magnet for folklore, being used to ward off witches, set at borders, and has been called the ‘breeding stone’ because it is said to give birth to new stones.
Detail of a carved stone Anglo Saxon sarcophagus in the crypt of St Mary’s in Wirksworth, Derbyshire. With the high rate of infant mortality, children were often buried under eaves and by walls to recieve baptism from the rain, as at Chrishall near Royston