PRE-CHRISTIAN NATURE RELIGION AND PAGANISM IN NEWHAM -
ANCESTOR WORSHIP AND NATURE RELIGION
Ancient faith was influenced by the natural world and the threat posed by the elements. The inhabitants of Britain originally worshipped their ancestors, burying them in long barrows and performing rituals to influence the weather and the harvest. But when Britain's climate changed, the ancestor cult came to an end and Britons looked to nature itself to influence their fortune.
This has its original manifestation of faith in nature religion with attitudes to sun, moon, stars, seasons, etc. Even today we use names associated with these: Sun(day), Moon(day), Tiu the god of war and sky (Tuesday); Woden the chief god of Anglo-Saxon paganism (Wednesday); Thor, god of thunder, rain and farming (Thursday); Freya, goddess of love and fecundity (Friday); Saturn-day after the Roman god of agriculture and harvest. Festivals included Beltane and Hallowe'en.
Modern Newham was probably inhabited from the Early Stone Age, but only on nomadic basis. Bronze Age site has been identified in at Plaistow. Although there is little physical evidence of faith, deductions can be made from London and Essex histories.
Against a haunting and fascinating background of marshland and rivers, forests and silence there remains a hidden-ness about human faith in 'the other.' There are local clues to this:
In the 9th to 11th centuries, Danes began to attack Britain, mainly from the East Coast. They fought with great fierceness and wanton cruelty. Eventually they forced the Saxons westward.