Hyde900 Community Dig 2017
27 Apr 2017 until 30 Apr 2017, 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
St. Bede Pupils Explore Mysteries of local Abbey with aid of Hyde900 – And come up with an exciting NEW DISCOVERY!
Two pupils from St. Bede School, Thomas Agombar and Ezra Holliday, made an astonishing discovery within the precincts of Hyde Abbey last week as part of a project to turn the historic site into a learning resource for Year 5 pupils.
While inspecting the boundary wall of Adam Architecture (which is constructed entirely of materials sourced from the nearby abbey) the boys identified a medieval mason’s mark inscribed into a stone. “Mason’s marks were applied by the mason on stones they had carved, and were used as a method of calculating the payment due,” explained Hyde900 trustee and tour guide, David Spurling. “This is a unique find and none have previously been found in the Hyde area.”
The find was endorsed for its authenticity by the distinguished local architectural historian Dr. John Crook from Winchester Cathedral, “It’s undoubtedly a mason’s mark on that stone,” he said.
Deputy head and event coordinator for St. Bede, David Metcalfe, was enthusiastic about the implications of the discovery.
“This was a really exciting event for our pupils, who just loved making rubbings of the stone. We hope that they will be able to research the mark and its age, and even find out the name of the mason involved.”
The mason’s mark ‘break-through’ gave a good start to the school’s first ever Archaeology Day when a team from Hyde900 supported by members of WARG introduced ninety children from Year 5 to the history and lay-out of the abbey and then provided the opportunity for the children to hone their research skills in sorting out archaeological finds provided by the Winchester Museum Service.
With funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (and additional financial assistance from Winchester City Council and local estate agency Belgarum) Hyde900 is currently embarked on a wide range of new initiatives to interpret the site of the abbey. This includes a major educational project to enable schools to learn more about the story of Hyde Abbey and King Alfred the Great whose bones are believed to still remain buried somewhere on the site.
“The area of Hyde Abbey offers a tremendous resource to enable children to investigate the fantastic medieval heritage of where they live,” said Caroline Scott, a member of the Hyde900 Committee. “What we are doing fits with Key Stages 1 and 2 of the National Curriculum and provides a great opportunity for children to develop a range of new insights and knowledge as well as extending their literacy skills though learning new technical terms. They also had fun designing new ‘funky’ habits for the monks reflecting a real controversy in the middle ages over what kind of attire was suitable for the monastery.”
In the course of a packed day of activity every child took part in a guided tour of the site and had the opportunity to identify architecturally interesting stones which had been recycled from the original abbey building. There was also the opportunity to take ‘stone rubbings’ and to participate in a workshop with local artist Kate Arnold to make ‘encaustic’ tiles similar to those which would have been found on the floor of the abbey. Having completed the day’s programme they were then each awarded a certificate by Hyde900.
The responses from the children were very positive. “I liked going out on the archaeological walk and learning about the different types and shapes of stones and why they were there and what they told us about history,” said Matthew, while Atene commented ‘ I didn’t realise finding out about the past could be so interesting and fun!” Classmate Jack said, “I learned about whistle stones and that archaeologists need to draw the artefacts they find” and Faith added, “I have really enjoyed looking at the bones and the archaeologists bag of tools. I really like archaeology and it was interesting to see what they actually use on a dig.”
Headteacher Sarah Duck said that she was delighted to be working with Hyde900 and to take advantage of the historically important site which lay adjacent to the school. “It is an opportunity for immersive learning in a unique setting,” she said. “The children have really enjoyed all the different activities and I hope that they will now be able to look at their home area and see beneath the surface as to what a very interesting story it has to tell. This is just the start of something which will grow in the life of the school.”
Among visitors to St. Bede’s was the mayor Jane Rutter. “I’ve had the pleasure of going to a number of Hyde900 activities recently but this Archaeology Day is perhaps the one which will have the greatest impact in introducing our local children to an important aspect of the fascinating history of Winchester,” she said.”I hope that it will have a continuing effect.”
“For too long the educational potential of the Hyde Abbey site has been overlooked,” said Hyde900 Founder, Edward Fennell. “We’re thrilled that St. Bede has been so positive about exploring the possibilities of what is available. But it is not just for children. Local people of all ages will find it very rewarding to look more closely at the remains of the abbey. It’s remarkable what you discover once you open your eyes and examine it with care.”
Hyde900 Community Archaeology
Aided by the Heritage Lottery Fund and other sponsors, Hyde900 is able to offer an enhanced programme in 2017.
Coming up shortly, the Second Annual Hyde900 Community Excavation will take place between 27 and 30 April 2017. The locations this year are in a pair of adjoining gardens in King Alfred Terrace belonging to Chris Prior and his wife Ann (at Number 14) and Justine Field (Number 15) . Material has already come up from the earth which strongly suggests that this area has strong potential for a number of different types of find. There is speculation that the south cloister of the abbey along with other buildings was roughly in this area. But exactly what will be turned up remains to be seen – that’s the exciting element of a dig. You can never quite tell what you will – or won’t – discover.
Winchester Mayor Jane Rutter Announces Further Plans for Community Archaeology by Hyde900 in 2017
Taking centre-stage at the recent Hyde900 King Alfred Weekend exhibition was a display of finds from the community archaeology project undertaken earlier this year in a garden in King Alfred Place, Hyde. This revealed, among other things, the site of Hyde Abbey church’s south transept.
Following this success Mayor Jane Rutter announced on behalf of Hyde900, that there will be a further community excavation project in 2017 when work will commence on investigating two adjoining gardens in King Alfred Terrace. The Mayor was the first to sign up for the excavation, and was presented with a personalised sieve for her use by event organiser David Spurling.
Hyde900 Community Dig April 27th to 30th 2017
“We already have extensive material which has surfaced on the site thanks to the work of local resident Chris Prior who contacted us when he discovered a number of interesting stone while preparing the ground for his vegetable plot,” explained Hyde900’s David Spurling.
“An examination by Ross Lovett, formerly the head mason and conservator at Winchester Cathedral confirmed that the stone dated from the Norman period and also included high quality Purbeck stone which is thought to come from the interior of the abbey establishment.
We now plan to work with WARG next year to explore Chris Prior’s garden more thoroughly and also that of the next door neighbour Justine Field. We think that this could reveal for the first time detailed information about the south side of the abbey cloister.”
Hyde900 is delighted to announce that the 2017 Hyde900 Community Dig is being supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Belgarum Estate Agents and Winchester City Council.
The Hyde900 community archaeology project 2017 is scheduled for the 27th to 30th of April
At the exhibition the first to register to take part in the dig was the mayor of Winchester followed swiftly by local MP Steve Brine.
People of all ages who want to join them and get a sense of what might be called the ‘Time Team Experience’ can now register their interest.
There will be plenty of opportunities for local people – and those from further afield – to take part.
No prior experience is required.
To register for the dig, be kept informed of progress and receive priority when booking opens please fill the registration form below.