While I have been mucking around Brunanburh with a 19-year-old Aldred, Jonathan Jarrett’s blog has brought to our attention a fascinating article by John Blair that may shed some light on the dimensions of the wooden Chester-le-Street church (and redux) that I wrestled with last year.
Essentially, Blair’s work suggests a 15-foot (4.6 meter) perch or grid measure that is especially evident in Northumbrian Renaissance architecture. Escomb is one example he uses, along with Wearmouth and Jarrow, all models I had considered for the Chester-le-Street church.
Escomb’s nave is a single width of three grids (15×45) interior and the chancel one grid exterior (thus smaller interior than the nave). So you could build the wall either on the inside or the outside of the grid. Hexham’s nave appears to be three grids wide and seven long, which gives us some sense of a larger monastic church.
Chester-le-Street might have been somewhere in between–maybe two grids wide (30 feet) by 5 long (75 feet) including the chancel (I had posited a separate chapel later conjoined with a smaller single celled church). This grid implies a proportionality in the ratio of width to length. Any thoughts on how that would work?