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Essex Through the Ages
Saxon Essex
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Saxon Religion

When the Saxons arrived in Britain they brought with them their own religion, a form of paganism which involved the worship of many gods and goddesses and a belief in a life after death. Their earliest cemeteries contain bodies buried with rich items which it was believed they would use in death.

However, the influence of the Christian church was growing and missionaries were being sent to convert whole countries. The earliest Christian church in Essex is that of St. Peter-on-the-wall at Bradwell-on-Sea, dating to around 654 AD and lying on the site of the old Roman Saxon Shore fort of Othona. This was the base for St. Cedd, a missionary whose goal was the conversion of the East Saxon Kingdom.

By the late Saxon period cemeteries show the evidence of this Christian influence; they were beginning to be buried without goods, and the graves were changing direction; instead of being aligned North-South they were being aligned East-West in line with Christian beliefs. At the Last Judgement this would allow the dead to rise and face Christ, whose second coming would take place in the East.