There have been three churches on this religious site with the most resonant of names. Originally built to mark the site of the great battle in 634 where Saint Oswald’s Northumbrian forces defeated the Mercian army to secure the future of Christianity in the region. Today the little church & its sheltering trees sit snugly in an ancient encirclement of stone walled yard in the middle of a sloping field on the high ridge it shares with the remnants of Hadrian’s Wall. No track descends to the military road below where we park our cars, and flickers of snow on a sharp wind do not deter the assembling worshippers. Up until the end of the C19th Heavenfield was the parish church for the village of Wall two miles distant. A donkey cart would ferry those who could not manage the walk. Eventually, in the 1890’s parishioners finally built a new place of worship in the village itself. There’s no electricity, gas or water supply at Heavenfield. The old church is now lovingly preserved by a society of friends and is used on feast and high days. Easter Sunday, one of five annual services held here, is marked as they all are with a full congregation, well wrapped against the elements.Today at the end of service the children scattered excitedly to hunt for chocolate eggs among the gravestones as the adults took in the views or re-assembled to chat over flasks of tea & coffee. We’ve come to this remarkable place before, at Christmas Eve which was quite magical and today was no less special, in a subtly different way. During the service everyone added a flower to the Calvary cross – symbol of death & resurrection – and we left the cheering & colourful structure in the churchyard before departing over the field.

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