IN Northumbria small groups of monks set up bases or 'Minsters' from which to work, and many of the churches in Ryedale have their origin in this period. Oswald's son Ethelwald followed his father's example and continued to give the Christians support and encouragement.
The church at Lastingham. was built when Ethelwald invited Cedd to travel from Lindisfarne in 654 and start a new community in what was a 'wild and barren place'. Cedd became Bishop of the East Saxons journeying between Lastingham and Essex. In 664 Cedd died of the plague while at Lastingham. His brother Chad then became Abbot, eventually becoming Bishop of Lichfield. Although the site at Lastingham was abandoned round the 9th century, Christianity survived there even the destruction of the monastery during the Viking invasions. In 1078 Stephen, former Abbot of Whitby, came to Lastingham and restored the community as a Benedictine house, the crypt of the present church being built as a shrine to Cedd on the site of the original monastery. The existing building, above the crypt, was begun by Stephen but was never completed. It forms the basis of the unique church we see in Lastingham village today.
Several other churches date from this period including Kirkdale Minster, Stonegrave Minster and Hovingham Church, all of which have examples of Anglian and other pre-Norman stonework.
Page prepared by Ryedale Christian Council Autumn 2000. Updated December 2016
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