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St Oswald, Oswaldkirk, Yorkshire, North Riding

(54°12′7″N, 1°2′58″W)
SE 621 789
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, North Riding
now North Yorkshire
medieval York
now York
medieval St Oswald
now St Oswald
  • Jeffrey Craine
September 2011

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Oswaldkirk is a village about 20 miles N of York and the church stands along the main road of the village. The present building replaces a church of Saxon origins of which very little survives (see Comments); it is rather small and consists of a nave and a chancel. Despite the extensive restoration of 1868, much of the original Norman fabric of the building has survived, including the nave walls with doorways to both N and S sides and a window. There are several carved fragments in the porch.


Domesday Book records that in 1086 a manor was held at 'Oswaldescherca' by both a Count of Mortain and by a Berengar de Toni. After this date the land around this area appears to have changed hands regularly, but with no indication as to exactly when any church may have constructed. However, the existence of fragments of a 10th-11th-c origin would confirm that a church was in existence on this site prior to the Conquest.


Exterior Features



Loose Sculpture


With the exception of the font fragment, the loose pieces in the porch are clearly pre-Norman. The form of the interlace fragment is very similar to examples of such work that can be found on Anglo-Saxon or Anglo-Danish carving from within this region. The relatively flat form of the figure carving also has parallels with local Anglo-Saxon work. It should be noted that one of the large quoin stones at the SW corner of the nave bears traces of carving that suggest it may originally have formed part of an Anglo-Saxon cross shaft. It would appear likely that this original Anglo Saxon/Anglo Danish building would have been replaced during the second half of the 12thc. St Oswald was a 7th-c Christian King responsible for bringing Christianity to Northumbria and the surrounding regions. As the word ‘kirk’ was used to denote a church, it is possible that an even earlier church may well have stood on this site. The type of carving used in the capitals of both doorways would suggest an early second half of the 12thc date. The form of the S doorway is clearly not Norman and may well have been enlarged during the 13thc, incorporating the capitals from the original opening.

  1. N. Pevsner,The Buildings of England. Yorkshire, The North Riding, Harmondsworth 1966, 279.

W. Page (ed.), A History of the County of York North Riding, I, London 1923, 549-52.