St Peter’s Church is the former parish church of Barton-upon-Humber in North Lincolnshire, England. It is one of the best known Anglo-Saxon buildings, in part due to its role in Thomas Rickman’s identification of the style. It has been subject to major excavations, which are the most comprehensive for any parish church in Britain. It is now run by English Heritage and houses an exhibition exploring its history.
The church lies immediately east of the remains of a near circular enclosure which contained a hall. This is, on average, 820 feet in diameter and was originally surrounded by a ditch and timber palisade known to date to before 900. An early pagan Saxon cemetery, believed to be linked with this enclosure and dated to the first half of the seventh century, was discovered at Castledyke, south of the church, and was used to bury high-status individuals. In 669, Saint Chad founded a monastery in neighbouring Barrow-upon-Humber. An Anglo-Saxon charter dated 971 suggests that Barton became a grange attached to this monastery.
The earliest graves on the site of the church date from the ninth century, around one hundred years after the southerly cemetery was abandoned. At this stage, it appears to have been reserved for burials associated with the hall and there may have been an associated chapel, although no trace of this remains. This was Barton’s first Christian cemetery.
The dating of the church is somewhat controversial. English Heritage date the baptistery to the ninth century and the tower nave to the tenth century. Some other sources give a slightly later date, between 970 and 1030. In particular, it is uncertain whether the baptistery does predate the tower or if the two are contemporary. Around the date of construction the ditch to the east was in filled, allowing level access between the hall and the church. Unusually, graves disturbed by the laying of foundations were carefully relocated.