Barnburgh is seven miles west of Doncaster. The honey-coloured stone church stands high in a village of which the older houses are of the same stone. It has a chancel with a N aisle or chapel, nave with N and S aisles and a porch, and W tower. The tower has four stages, the lower part including ashlar walling with two windows with one-piece heads; it is buttressed to the height of the S aisle, the roofs battlemented. A plan of the church is in the Borthwick Institute (Fac. 1869/2).
The vill is in Domesday Book but no church is mentioned. Henry I granted a church here to Nostell priory 1119-1129 (Farrer 1916, 128), and in a confirmation of 1121-7 the king confirmed to Nostell the churches of ‘St Oswald and Aydanus of Bamburg’ as Algar the priest once held them. Could ‘Aydanus’ represent a dedication to St Aidan, brought to Northumbria by King (St) Oswald?
A dispute was resolved between Hickleton and Barnbrough c.1170-1177 which established Hickleton as the mother church. The suit mentioned the clerks of Barnbrough; ‘This shows that the church was divided between two or more secular clerks…this may have been a survival of one of those small secular communities which were abundant in the 11th century and were usually of pre-Conquest origin’ (Thompson and Clay 1933, 25).
The lower window is blocked; outside, it has a slit with a one piece head and inside, a large splay. Another similar window, not blocked, exists at a higher level; this has a larger stone used for the window-head.
The shaft is not quite square in section, being slightly wider on the W and E faces. Its overall form is architectural, there is a moulded plinth and each angle has a base, column, necking and elongated capital surviving, though decayed. The shaft tapers slightly until just below the top, where foliage and architectural detail swell to emphasise the termination.
The remains lack the very top, which is worn but looks unlikely ever to have been flat. There is loss also where the two stones have been joined about half-way down; here it can be seen from the discrepancy in the pattern on the W face that about 0.07 to 0.08m (3 inches) is missing. This loss reduces the solemnity of the standing figures on the N and S faces, and makes the worn remains on the E side even harder to evaluate.
The E face is generally the most worn, though at the bottom the survival of the foliage pattern is very good. At the top of the E face is a tall cross with splayed arms and foliage in the quadrants. Between the cross and the foliage at the bottom, Ryder identifies a standing figure in a long gown. The loss at the break here cuts through the neck and chest of the standing figure.
Measurements are taken from Ryder 1991.
|Height as seen||2.0m|
|Plinth||0.38m x 0.34m|
The composition is similar to the N face with a standing figure in the top two-thirds. The cowl is thrown back and the head bare; he has a tonsure. Above the head are two units of a pattern like that on the W face; these have foliage designs in them. A stole, or the border of a robe, is shown crossing the breast. The man holds a book resting open on his left arm and the right hand lies in on the open pages; the hand is small, and was never large. Below the break, the skirt of his long robe is shown, and two small feet pointing downwards. A three-strand plait, arising from mouldings below the pillar bases, fills the shaft below this figure. The spaces in the plait are filled with foliage fans or domes. The carving survives well here and the forms are rounded and bold.
This face is entirely filled with a pattern of two interwoven wavy bands. There is symmetrical foliage in the central spaces, and more foliage at the sides. The discrepancy in the join of the two stones is noticeable but difficult to quantify accurately.
Like the S face, this has a standing figure above a symmetrical foliage pattern; above the head is more symmetrical foliage perhaps arranged in the quarters of a cross. The foliage is a common type, fluted clusters of leaves often graded in length with the smallest one curled round. The head appears to be tonsured and to be wearing a hood or cowl which loosely encircles the face. The torso and arms are worn and broken, while details of the body below the break are entirely worn away.
Borthwick Fac. 1869/2 includes a plan of the church.
G. B. Brown, The Arts in Early England, vol VI part II, Anglo-Saxon Sculpture. London 1937.
L. A. S. Butler, ed. The Yorkshire church notes of Sir Stephen Glynne (1825-1874), Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record Series 159. Woodbridge 2007.
W. G. Collingwood, ‘Anglian and Anglo-Danish Sculpture in the West Riding’, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 23 (1915), 129-299.
W. Farrer, Early Yorkshire Charters 1-3, Edinburgh 1915-1916
J. S. Large, A History of Barnburgh. n.p., 1999.
J. E. Morris, The West Riding of Yorkshire. 2nd ed. (1906) 1919.
N. Pevsner, revised by E. Radcliffe, The Buildings of England: Yorkshire, The West Riding. Harmondsworth 1967.
P. F. Ryder, Saxon Churches in South Yorkshire. South Yorkshire County Council Archaeology Monograph No.2, Sheffield 1982.
A. H. Thompson and C. T. Clay, ed. Fasti parochiales 1 part 1 [Deanery of Doncaster part 1], Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record Series 85 (1933), 25-28.
P. J. Wilcox and M. Wilcox, St Peter’s Church Barnburgh church guide, n.p., n.d.
R. Wood, ‘Not Roman but Romanesque: a decayed relief at Conisbourgh church’, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 76 (2004), 95-112.