The Church of St Oswald, Lythe, North Yorkshire
St Oswald’s is an ancient church with an internationally renowned collection of Anglo-Scandinavian carved stones. With the help of Heritage Lottery and Nortrail funding, a selection of the ancient stones at St Oswald’s Church are now displayed in a permanent exhibition, which was opened by the Marquis of Normanby in 2008.
The permanent exhibition of Anglo-Scandinavian carved stones at the Church of St Oswald
The exhibition displays both the Anglo-Scandinavian carved stones and the post Conquest Anglo-Norman stones. The Anglo-Scandinavian pieces date from the 9th and 10th century and are all funereal monuments, or fragments thereof, indicating a major burial ground on this site. Tantalisingly, among the group of Anglo-Scandinavian pieces which have been catalogued are two pieces which have been identified as dating from the 8 century. These pieces might constitute evidence for a stone Church prior to the arrival of the ‘Vikings’ and contemporary with the abbey at Whitby (Streoneshalh).
Artist’s impression showing how the graveyard at Lythe may have looked in the 10th century
Illustration Peter Snowball
The stones which do not find a place in the exhibition are systematically stored on purpose built shelving in the (modem) crypt and can be accessed on request. The purpose of Lythe PCC in sponsoring this heritage project was to conserve and secure the collections for future generations and to provide a display which interpreted the significance of what is here.
Those in the church are in a display second to none. The area lights up automatically as you enter, and turns itself off as you leave. The carved stones can be examined close up and there are well-written and informative explanations to both the stones and the general history of the church and surrounding area, accompanied by either photographs or the beautiful illustrations by the artist Peter Snowball.
Well done to the Church of St Oswald, Lythe PCC and all those involved in bring the project to fruition.
Text in italics from the Church’s website. More here.