There are a number of ancient sepulchral memorials and monuments that still remain within St Mary's Church (see SMR 15533); including a Saxon carved stone, believed by Cox to be the coped cover of a tomb, but considered by Bateman and others to have been an altar-piece, or reredos, of the ancient church. The tomb cover was most likely executed to cover the remains of the Saxon convert, or, possibly of the Celtic missionary priest, who first built a church at Wirksworth, but whose name history has failed to embalm. It is also likely that the Normans, on re-building the church, deliberately reversed the tomb and buried it beneath the pavement. The conquering Normans did all in their power to disassociate the names and memories of revered Saxons from the minds of the people whom they had subdued. (2)
A curious piece of sculpture in the north wall of the north aisle is believed by competent authorities to have belonged to the Saxon church that is thought to have once occupied this site (see SMR 15533). It was found during the repairs that took place in 1820-1, in front of the alter, about two feet below the floor. Beneath it was a stone-built vault, or grave, which contained a perfect human skeleton of large size. It lay with the sculpture downwards, clearly showing that it did not occupy its original position. (3)
Inside St Mary's Church, Wirksworth, is an Anglo-Saxon coffin lid of c. 800 AD, found in front of the altar at a depth of 2ft over an extended skeleton, found during restoration in 1820/21. The coffin lid is known as the Wirksworth Stone. It is now mounted on the wall of the north aisle. Many carved medieval fragments are built into the walls of both transepts, the southerly of which has a piece that was probably once part of the Anglo-Saxon coffin lid, as well as part of a 10th century Saxon Cross. (4)
Index: North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust (NDAT). North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust: 2093. 2093.
Bibliographic reference: Cox, J C. 1877. Notes on the Churches of Derbyshire, Vol. II. pp 532-4.
Bibliographic reference: Bulmer, T and Co.. 1895. History, Topography and Directory of Derbyshire. p 491.
Personal Observation: F1 BHS 04-MAY-66.
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SK 2873 5395 (point) (Approximate)
WIRKSWORTH, DERBYSHIRE DALES, DERBYSHIRE
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Dec 14 2017 4:42PM
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