A henge is a name given to the outer bank and ditch that usually surrounds stone circles such as Stonehenge and Avebury. They are not protective in the way that fortresses are protected by a moat. Rather they overlook the circle, and indeed some authorities believe they were used as viewing platforms for people to see the ceremonies are going on inside.
Henges were constructed in the neolithic and bronze ages, generally surrounding places of worship so it is unusual to find a Church built inside a pre-Christian, pagan era, henge, yet there are a few in Britain. This one surrounding Knowlton Church in Dorset is one such place.
Was it the new religion annexing the holy places of the Old? We shall never know, but interestingly there were around 35 henges in the surrounding area, making this the biggest concentration in Dorset. There is also evidence of an Anglo-Saxon graveyard nearby so there may well have been a church on this site almost since the introduction of Christianity into Britain.
Yet does the old still exerts its influence? Just behind the church are two yew trees, old and ancient as yew trees can be. And within their sheltering embrace, the trees have been decorated as the ancient Celts might well have done two thousand years ago.
Shown below are the colourful decoration. In the midst of the ancient Yew trees, they add a sense of the Divine and of human loss to this mysterious place.