Rock art in a church. A little niche and in a little niche. Nice.

The church is St John Lee in the small village of Acomb to the north of Hexham, close to the bustling A69. Nestled beside the entrance to this church is a liver-shaped stone with carved cup-and-ring marks and some other wounds.

This stone is unfussily sitting, recumbent, on the church floor, accompanied by an information panel of some care and attention. The handwritten note tells us that this ancient sacred object – The Oakwood Stone – was found nearby and ‘many years ago’ dragged to this propitious location by chain.

Already plough-scarred

extracted from the land

farmed

harvested.

The Oakwood stone, twice named, vaguely reminiscent of MR James’s Austin the Twice Born and his enchanted oak carving skills. The Lee part of the name of the church refers to a clearing in the wood, cutting down trees and making recompense with symbols, a church.

It is appropriate that stone should come to rest here, as it was of religious significance to its makers.

From The Journal of Antiquities (link below)

There is an inclusive nature to this inclusionary act, protecting this homeless carved stone, not ‘Christianising’ it. This is refuge. There is no judgement here, no condemnation, just quiet reflection on the mystery of religion and the things folk do for their gods.

You can read more about this stone-and-church setting here: The journal of antiquities entry.

You may be interested to read about another prehistoric rock art panel that is entangled with a church in my blog post Between Reverend and Reserved.

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