Columnist puts his research on early churches into print

Herald columnist Roger Hawkins has penned a book to shed new light on the beginnings of Christianity in Northumberland.

The Early Christian Landscape of The Wansbeck Valley begins with the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons and accounts of the first leaders of the faith, charts the minsters, and looks at the rise of parish churches.

With images and maps, it builds on the findings of other historians to provide detailed accounts of each of the churches and searches for the ‘missing minsters’.

The book follows the publication of Mr Hawkin’s findings in his popular Morpathia column in the Herald. However, it was originally envisaged as a lecture.

Mr Hawkins said: “I go whenever I can to the Jarrow Lectures, which take place in the spring, and they have all the past lectures in print.

“There was one from 1963 by the Rev George Addleshaw, identifying a number of the Anglo-Saxon minsters. My interest came from there.

“People think parish churches just happened, but they didn’t. We have this early phase when the minsters were more like African mission stations. It was only later when churches were built of stone.

“I have been writing the book in fits and starts over a long period of time. Originally, it was conceived as a lecture. I have been to all of the places in the book to get pictures for the lecture, but it has never been given. Then extracts were published in Morpathia, and now it has taken the form of a book.”

The book is priced £6 and is available from Appleby’s in Newgate Street, Morpeth, and from Morpeth Chantry.

Mr Hawkins recently sold copies from a stall at Barclays Bank in Morpeth, where £2 from each sale went to the Samaritans, the chosen charity of Morpeth Mayor Nic Best.