A Church That Was Sacred Before It Was Built
While there are plenty of churches in England built on ancient pre-Christian sites, just a few miles over the border into Wales I stumbled upon a church literally built inside one!
This is St Michael's Church in the tiny hamlet of Cascob, a few miles from Kington. The almost circular churchyard gives a clue to there once being something much older here, then when one walks around to the tower it becomes clear that it is wedged into the side of a Bronze Age barrow.
Not only that, but something remarkable is hanging inside. During the renovations carried out around 1890, a magical charm was discovered rolled up in one of the graves. It features occult symbols and the magic word "ABRACADABRA" while it appears to be a charm for protection of a woman's corpse against witchcraft and "all manner of evil", and was prepared for one Elizabeth Lloyd. A fascinating example of traditional cunning work, a mixture of Christian invocations and more esoteric occult symbolism.
It begins thus -
In the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost Amen *** and in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ I will deliver Elizabeth Lloyd from all witchcraft, from all evil spirits and from all evil men or women or wizards or hardness of heart Amen ***
The charm was probably made around 1690 when the church was described as being in "a ruinous state". It certainly makes one wonder just what the beliefs of the people around this mysterious church were and what the place looked like before its rebuild. The author Phil Rickman thought the same, musing as to whether there was once a hybrid semi-pagan religion here at one time.
This is a very remote place which contributes to its lonely and otherworldly atmosphere.