Today’s Cathedral has its roots in the seventh century, when England’s pagan monarchy first became Christians. In 635, Cynegils, king of the West Saxons, was baptised. Just over a decade later, his son Cenwalh built the first Christian church in Winchester, the heart of Anglo-Saxon Wessex. This small, cross-shaped church became known as Old Minster. You can still see where it stood, its outline traced in red brick, just north of the present building. Soon, Old Minster became a cathedral, housing the throne (cathedra) of a bishop who held sway over a huge diocese that stretched from the English Channel to the river Thames. This was now the most important royal church in Anglo-Saxon England. It was the burial place for some of the earliest kings of Wessex, including King Alfred the Great. Here too King Cnut, who ruled England and Denmark in the early 11th century, chose to be buried, and was joined by his wife Queen Emma on her death in 1052.