Friday, 2 November 2018

All Saints Church, Brixworth

I am not a religious person. In fact I would go further, believing that the unbelievably stupid quarrels between the three Abrahamic cults are a disgrace to humanity. Nevertheless, finding myself in Brixworth earlier today (Chris was attending a meeting at the Heritage Centre) I could not resist visiting the wonderful Church of All Saints. There is no point in attempting to describe the building and its history: archaeologists, architects and historians have between them produced enough leaflets, essays and books on the subject to fill a considerable length of library shelving.

All Saints Church Brixworth under an achingly blue sky.
2 November, 2018
I entered the church via the south door at the base of the tower. As in many other parts of the building the arch over the door contains, indeed is almost wholly constructed from, Roman tiles believed to have come from a nearby villa.

The arch over the south door is largely composed of Roman tiles.
2 November, 2018

Fascinating though the building is, I was anxious to get outside, where the sun shone from a brilliant blue sky.

Scrambling through bushes on the south west of the grounds is a specimen of Duke of Argyll's Tea Plant, Lycium barbarum. It is in the Nightshade Family, Solanaceae, and is one of the two sources from which Goji berries are obtained (the other species being Lycium chinense). 
Lycium barbatum, showing the paucity of fruits. All Saints
Church grounds, Brixworth. 2 November, 2018

Many claims have been made for these fruits in traditional medicine but, even if I had wished to test their efficacy I'd have been out of luck as only a handful of fruits were present. Nearby grew a relative of the Lycium in the shape of Black Nightshade, Solanum nigrum.

Black Nightshade is a common weed of disturbed ground.
Brixworth churchyard. 2 November, 2018

Its fruits are much like tiny tomatoes and historical sources record that these have been eaten in times of famine.

Around the church tree trunks and walls had warmed up nicely in the unseasonably warm conditions. A fly, Tachina fera, was basking on lichen-covered stonework. The genus Tachina gives its name to the Tachinidae, a family of flies with parasitic larvae.

Tachina fera. The word fera is from the same root as 'ferocious' but the
 insect is harmless to humans. Brixworth church, 2 November, 2018
Only a few centimetres away was a common blowfly, Calliphora vomitoria. This species along with C. vicina is of importance to forensic pathologists as they lay their eggs on corpses. The stage of development of these larvae at the time a body is discovered provides important clues in determining how long the corpse has been exposed. I can recommend the book 'Blowflies' by the late Zakaria Erzinclioglu for an absorbing bedtime read.
A common species of blowfly, Calliphora vomitoria.  Brixworth churchyard.
2 November, 2018

I'd have liked more time to wander around the churchyard as many interesting trees are present. A Giant Redwood, Sequoia giganteum, otherwise known as the Wellingtonia, had formed quite a large tree but it is only half-way to what it may become.
A Giant Redwood, Sequoia giganteum, was already a big tree but it has a long
 way to go.
The young shoots of the Sequoia
Again the Sequoia, showing the tiny male cones. Brixworth churchyard.
2 November, 2018


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