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"Inside a Viking Era church" Topic

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Personal logo Grelber Supporting Member of TMP23 Jul 2018 6:56 p.m. PST

What would the interior of a Viking Age western European church contain? Modern churches have pews; were they in use back then? I suppose there'd be an altar and some sort of lectern, but what, if anything, else?

I'm thinking of building a small stone church so the local peasants have someplace to flee to in the event of a Viking raid. Something the Vikings can besiege briefly, and either capture and sack, or pass it by to attack some other unguarded target.


3AcresAndATau23 Jul 2018 7:38 p.m. PST

No seats for the peasantry in all likelihood. Certain services were held in churches or cathedrals (which may have been used as meeting places or markets during the week), and most attendees would have been standing or maybe sitting on the floor.

However, Saxon England in particular was not home to very many stone buildings, churches or otherwise (there were some). Most services for common folk would have been held outside at standing crosses or outside small wooden buildings sheltering an altar.

Druzhina23 Jul 2018 11:48 p.m. PST
dapeters24 Jul 2018 9:11 a.m. PST

Many churches were design as a place were the population could hold up if under attacked for a day or two.

bsrlee24 Jul 2018 11:12 a.m. PST

Grelber you have it pretty well sorted – no furnishings for the parishioners, only an altar, a chest for storing Church plate, vestments, wine & Host. If it was well established there might be a basic lectern. Most of the other furniture was Medieval or later, pews didn't become common until the later 1800's & in some places late 1900's.

As for size, 3Acres has it pretty right for just about anywhere – any big religious celebration would have to be held outdoors because the 'church' was too small for more than a handful of people.

Personal logo Grelber Supporting Member of TMP24 Jul 2018 9:56 p.m. PST

No pews. I'm sorry the peasants had to stand, but from a wargaming point of view, not having a bunch of pews to clutter up the space is great!

sidley25 Jul 2018 3:59 p.m. PST

Try googling images of churches on Gower particuarly Rhossili or the later church at Cheriton.We are on the South Wales coast and were vulnerable to raiders from Dublin or the Isle of Man. By the 11th century Vikings were were Christian so wouldn't actually burn down a church, so these stone buildings were a refuge until the local lord could gather forces to drive off the raiders. The Gower Peninsula is interesting as 9 of the parish churches were owned by the Hospitilars who used the parish tithes to support the order. Look at images of the two churches I mentioned for a couple of ideas. As for pews they don't appear until the 13th century and then only as benches against the walls, people would sometimes even bring their animals into church.

Perkunos16 Jan 2019 2:14 p.m. PST

Greensted in Essex has the oldest wooden church in Europe,built by St Cedd in the 600s. It has been added to over the centuries but the original very small wooden church is sill there. Get a tourist book/postcard or get onto Essex Tourist Authoritybyfor details

Also in Essex is St Peter's on the Wall = Saxon church built from the stone blocks of a Roman fort on the Saxon Shore

Later period there are 2 Templar barns at Temple Cressing.
I visited a reconstruction of medieval village near Penarth whish houses, buildings, church and tithe barn
hope this is useful

wmyers26 Jan 2019 3:47 p.m. PST

You mean like this, Gol Stave, which is in Minot, North Dakota, USA:


The interior would be the same as any Catholic Churches (altar facing east with the Priest(s) also facing the same direction as the people toward God in Sacristy) of the time.

Any alteration would have been done with protestants not understanding the reasoning for universal Churches and then removing the altar and changing the interior.

Sorry to have to refute those who tried to claim the Churches would not be able to hold the people – they would and they had to. Sunday Obligation obliges (not suggests) everyone attend. The Priests may offer several Masses on Sunday to accommodate everyone.

Not to mention the 150 Days of Obligation in the Middle Ages (same as a statutory holiday, but Mass (1 to 1.5 hours, depending on Mass) is obligatory, the rest of the day was yours to relax and enjoy life).

There were no special seats for the rich.

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP26 Jan 2019 4:40 p.m. PST


The big one at the top is some 50 minutes from here.

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