Superstition and Religion in Early Derbyshire

by Gladwyn Turbutt

In this new book Gladwyn Turbutt describes and explains some of the funeral rituals and superstitions of early communities in Derbyshire. With the advent of the Celtic peoples we see the worship of numerous local deities before the Romans arrived in the 1st century and intro­duced the final phase of polytheistic belief.

It was as one of the competing religious cults of the Near East that Christianity was introduced to Britain in the early 3rd century, and after the emperor Constantine's edict of toleration in 313 Christianity spread rapidly. Few records survive of its earliest years in Derbyshire, but after a mission was despatched from Lindisfarne in 653 to evangelise the Mercians and Middle Angles, followed by the establishment in 656 of a new cathedra at Repton, the foundation was laid for the building of new minster churches, such as those at Derby, Wirksworth and Bakewell, to spread the Christian message throughout the county.

Although the Viking incursions of the late 9th century destroyed the early minsters, the following century saw their re-establishment and the gradual building of churches on the estates of leading Anglo-Saxon thanes. By the time of Domesday (1086) Derbyshire could boast no fewer than 50 churches. Christianity had overcome its earlier rivals and had begun to suppress all surviving manifestations of superstitious beliefs and practices.

Gladwyn Turbutt is also the author of A History of Derbyshire

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Paperback, 96 pages, 20 illustrations

ISBN 1 898937 67 2