For more information on St Edith's Church, Shocklach and St Mary's Church, Tilston click on
THE MYSTERIES OF ST EDITH'S CHURCH,
St. Edith's is a small, isolated 12th century church situated one mile outside the
village of Shocklach.
It stands on its own in the middle of fields overlooking the river Dee and Wales.
Why was the church built so far from the village or if it was not, why did the village move?
Records show that the village was hit by the plague and one rumour is that the village moved away from the water of the Dee which, it was feared, carried the plague
(Shocklach means “Stream Haunted by an Evil Spirit” or “Goblin’s Stream”).
However, there is no evidence for this and,
apparently, no real sign of a village having been near the church.
The church has a beautiful Norman doorway but the level of the ground outside is
higher than the base of the door.
There is what appears to be a pagan carving on the north side of the church.
This carving is extremely weathered and very unusual.
It may have been brought from elsewhere.
There are many architectural puzzles which are visible both inside and outside and the church
(not unusually for such an old building) has clearly seen many changes.
There must be much more to the building than meets the eye –
maybe the original site was Saxon.
The biggest mystery, however, is a carving inside the church on a piece of sandstone
about 12 inches square. The carving is of a man on a horse with many legs
(see photograph below taken by Dr Lou Macchi) .
The stone is very weathered and the carving is hard to make out but it is reminiscent of Norse crosses, particularly those of the Isle of Man.
It also bears an uncanny resemblance to a carving on the base of a stone in the
churchyard of St Dochdwys at Llandough, just outside Cardiff. There are the remains of a sandstone cross outside Shocklach church.
Could the carving be a representation of Odin, the Norse god, and his horse, Sleipnir,
who had eight legs? There may even be a slight hunch behind the rider.
Could this be one of the ravens who brought Odin news from around the world?
There are apparently two St Ediths and it is not certain to which one Shocklach church is dedicated. One was Edith of Polesworth and the other, Edith of Tamworth,
was the half-sister of the Saxon King of England, Aethelstan.
In AD 926 Athelstan gave his sister, Edith, in marriage to Sihtric or Sigtric Caech,
the Danish King of Northumbria (or Sigtryggr Gale, King of Dublin and York?).
So could there be a connection between Shocklach and the Vikings?
A hoard of Viking silver treasure dating from around AD850-950 was found in Huxley,
just south-east of Chester in 2004. There were 22 objects, mostly bracelets.
The bracelets appear to have been flattened, perhaps to make them easier to bury and hide,
but they still show the distinctive Irish Sea designs of the 10th century.
There are strong Viking links in our area. The Viking Great Army camped in Chester during the winter of AD896 and then went on to plunder North Wales. T
here were also Viking settlements on the Wirral.
Place names such as Thingwall, Raby, Meols and Bromborough are derived from the Norse.