THE ENGLISH CATHEDRAL
IN speaking of the history of French Art we referred to its two sources, that which arose from the great Benedictine Monasteries of the ninth and tenth centuries, round which towns gradually sprang up in the previously deserted country districts, and that to be found in the Bishops' Cathedrals in the towns which were chiefly of Roman origin, and possessed a continuous history from the time of the empire. We saw also that these cathedral churches, at least in their earlier form, were great halls used for secular as well as For religious ceremonies. The second of these sources does not exist in England. There are in England no towns with a contintious church history from Roman times. Except in Wales, every trace of Romano-British Christianity was swept. away by the Saxons. We have consequently no Christian building of Roman date in England above ground, the Church of St. Mary, Dover, being undoubtedly of Saxon date (early eleventh century).
But the foundations of the Basilica excavated at Silchester, and since covered in again, show us a building of the same type as the churches of Syria and North Africa. It was a small three-aisled Basilica, with a narthex, with its apse towards the west, as in the earliest Roman churches, and with the diaconicon and prothesis opening the one into the presbytery, the other into the aisle, and forming slight projections like transepts on plan. In this respect it was more like the North African than the Syrian churches. The altar was probably of wood, as there is a square of mosaic in the midst of the red-tiled tesserae which form the paving of the apse, round which no doubt the clergy sat as in the early Roman churches.
When the tempest of the Saxon invasion had finally