There is some slight evidence of Paganism in the area, connected with an early Bronze Age burial, discovered SW of Chiselbury during an excavation of 1927. Accompanying the remains of a human skeleton, within a wooden coffin, were two red deer antlers. The existence of such grave goods suggests the performance of some form of pagan rites.
During the construction, in 1915, of the light railway serving the Fovant Camps, three stone cists containing skeletons were discovered in an area above the village hall. No relics accompanied these remains, but some large, conical-headed hobnails, identified as Romano-British, were found by the feet of one of the skeletons. Additionally, a large pot, almost certainly Romano-British, stood outside one of the cists. Christianity did arrive in Britain towards the end of the Roman occupation of Britain, but any religious aspect of these burials would almost certainly still have been pagan.
It is thought that the Saxons, who were the founders of the village of Fovant, had a place of worship on, or near the site of the present church, but if this was so no evidence of its existence remains. Whether this was a ‘church’ in the generally accepted sense of the word is open to conjecture for the Saxons when they came to Britain were pagans who worshipped gods of nature and held springs, wells, rocks and trees in reverence. Undoubtedly as the Saxons settled in our valley Christianity eventually became the dominant religion, though it could be said that vestiges of paganism always remained.
The date of the establishment of the Christian church in Fovant is unknown, but the initial building must pre-date 1267, for in that year the will of Robert de Careville, treasurer of Sarum contained the following bequest:
‘ … to supplying a deficit in the church at Fofunt, 20 solidos – to the poor of the same parish, 20 solidos.’
At that time the church would have been in the charge of a non-resident incumbent who would have almost certainly administered it from Wilton, for the patron in 1305 was the Abbot of Wilton. However, an unbroken list of Fovant incumbents from 1305 up to the present day indicates that, although Christian worship would have had its ups and downs throughout the ensuing centuries, it maintained, and continues to maintain, a strong presence in the village.
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