THE NORTH SIDE OF A CHURCH
I HAVE been favoured with the following remarks on this subject by the Rev. J. C. Atkinson, of Danby, Grosmont :-
I translate the following from Hylten Cuvalliecs' Wärend och Wirdurne, pp. 287, 288.
"Inasmuch as all light and all vigour springs from the sun, our Swedish forefathers always made their prayers with their faces turned towards that luminary. When any spell or charm in connection with an 'earth-fast stone' is practised, even in the present day, for the removal of sickness, the patient invariably turns his face towards the east, or the sun. When a child is to be carried to church to be baptized, th Wärend usage is for the godmother first to make he morning prayer, face towards the east, and then ask the parents three several times what the child's name is to be. The dead are invariably interred with their feet lying eastward, so as to have their faces turned towards the rising sun. Frånsols, or with or in a northerly direction, is, on the other hand, according to an ancient popular idea, the home of the evil spirits. The Old Northern Hell was placed far away in the North. When any one desires to remove or break any witch spell, or the like, by means of 'reading ' (or charms), it is a matter particularly observed that the stone (i.e., an 'earth-fast' one), is sought to the northward of the house. In like, manner also the 'bearing tree'
(any tree which produces fruit, or quasi fruit, apples, pears, &c., rowan tree, especially, and white thorn herbs), or the shrew mouse, by means of which it is hoped to remedy an evil spell, must be met with in a northerly direction from the patient's home. Nay, if one wants to charm away sickness over (or into) a running stream, it must always be one which runs northwards. On the self same grounds it has ever been the practice of the people of the Wärend district, even down to the present time, not. to bury their dead frånsols--or to the northward--of the church. In that part of the churchyard the contemned främlings högen (strangers' burial, place) always has its site, and in it are buried malefactors, friendless wretches, and utter strangers. A very old idea, in like manner connects the north side of the church with suicides' graves," &c.