News (May 2017- Further Important Medieval Finds)

datePosted on 20:26, May 1st, 2017


In a remarkable post-script to the previous announcement  issued earlier today by Hyde900 concerning the

Intricately moulded stone find in Trench 7, 15 King Alfred Place

Intricately moulded stone find in Trench 7, 14 King Alfred Place

 discoveries made in its Bank Holiday Community Dig, we are delighted to announce a further important development.

Following the cleaning of stones this afternoon by Hyde900’s David Spurling in one of the principal excavation pits in King Alfred Terrace, householder Chris Prior decided to take a closer look at what had been exposed. Having scooped away some loose mortar he realised that what he had come across was, almost certainly, a capital to a column (a very rare object in the Hyde context). In fact, as he trowled further there appeared to be a series of these capitals.

In Chris Prior’s words, “I noticed that in the stone it was possible to see a very definite curved shape filled with mortar. So I had a dig around and it vanished into a bit of a void. As I looked more closely I noticed that the jointing of blocks on what looked like the surface of a wall was equidistant at about 280 millimetres and each one had a scalloped edge looking like the edge of a capital. And when we cleaned up further we saw the pattern continuing. So in fact we have found three – or maybe four – capitals making up the surface of the wall.”


Following further investigations, Hyde900 is able to report that the ‘capitals’ referred to in the report have now been identified, in fact, as ‘voussoirs’ (wedge-shaped stones which constitute an arch).
We will be issuing further information about this important find later on in the year when we hope to be able to put the voussoirs into the wider context of the abbey’s construction.

Hyde900 is now consulting with local archaeological expert Dr. John Crook for confirmation of this find. There is also speculation as to how these voussoirs might have come to be used in this way. One suggestion is that they were excess to original requirements and had therefore been used in an alternative way. Another view is that they had been recycled following, possibly, the destruction of the abbey during the war between Stephen and Matilda. A third view is that they might have come from New Minster when the abbey community moved to Hyde in 1110. What is clear is that there is much more to be unearthed in the back gardens of Hyde in the campaign to look for the lost minster of King Alfred the Great.

UPDATE May 16 2017

With the agreement of both Chris Prior and Tracy Matthews, Winchester City Council Archaeologist, the voussoirs were carefully exposed and lifted under the expert eye of Dr John Crook, and the context explored. A key reason for this was the vulnerability of these important finds – described by John as being “of outstanding international importance” – being less than 20cm below ground level. The result was a treasure trove of materials in all probability from the cloister arcade, and/or possibly the adjacent cloister building.

The Hyde900 team have been sifting the adjacent mortar for other reused materials , and to their amazement have found no less than 60 discrete items of stone mouldings in addition to the voussoirs, some of which show the possible effects of burning. These have been carefully cleaned and added to the database of finds for the abbey. There will now follow extensive research into how all these pieces fit together. The full results should be available in time for a full explanation and display at the 2017 King Alfred Exhibition on 20 to 22 October.

A voussoir (top left) yet to be cleaned of the bedding mortar and a rich selection of other finds from the adjacent layer to the voussoirs - including fragments of abacus (top row)

A voussoir (top left) yet to be cleaned of the bedding mortar and a rich selection of other finds from the adjacent layer to the voussoirs – including fragments of abacus (top row)













For the ITN news clip about the dig use the following link:

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