St Oswald’s Church Lythe

Lythe – From Old Norse hilth ‘slope’.

The church at Lythe is dedicated to Saint Oswald. Oswald was born on in the kingdom of Dal Riata, an Irish-speaking region covering the west coast of Scotland and part of Ulster. He converted to Christianity and had strong links with the monastery of Iona. When his uncle King Edwin was killed by a Welsh king in 633, Oswald claimed the kingdom and successfully fought off his rivals to become king. Oswald then invited Irish monks from Iona to found a monastery on the island of Lindisfarne.

Oswald’s ambition led him to successfully expand his kingdom throughout many parts of Britain and through both conquest and alliance he became the overlord of many British kingdoms. He was also instrumental in the conversion many Anglo-Saxon kings to Christianity. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles refer to him as, Bretwalda, a king of kings.

Oswald was killed by the Mercians at the Battle of Maserfield, at a place generally identified with Oswestry (Oswald’s Tree) and soon became regarded as a saint, the first Northumbrian saint and martyr. his head was interred in Durham Cathedral with the remains of Saint Cuthbert.

It is not known when the original church was founded, the first written reference to the church is in the Domesday book. A large number of funeral remains and Viking gravestones known as Hogbacks have been found indicating that the site of the church was once an important Viking burial ground. A number of these stones, which date from the Viking and Medieval periods, are on permanent display within the church.

Sound Artist and all-round great bloke, Chris Whithead has produced a short film showing the interior of the church accompanied by an ethereal soundtrack of Chris’s field recording. Lythe Church by Chris Whitehead

You can find more of Chris’s work here Taphonomy – Chris Whitehead: Soundwork & Writing