Exciting News!

datePosted on 20:50, May 4th, 2022

See the remains of the nave of Hyde’s medieval abbey

at 6 King Alfred Place on Saturday, May 7 – 10am to 4pm

Despite being the burial place of Alfred the Great, the nave of the huge church under the gardens of Hyde has never been found. Over 80 metres long, it has remained hidden beneath the houses, gardens and roads in Hyde. Last week’s Hyde900 dig has now located the north wall of the church for the first time – only some 80cm below the garden of 6 King Alfred Place. The final phase of excavation will take place Saturday so those visiting in the morning may have the opportunity to see an expert archaeologist at work.

The beakhead being exhibited by David Ashby, dig archaeological consultant

By kind permission of householders Paul and Kat McCulloch, Hyde900 has organised a rare opportunity for those interested in the abbey not only to view what remains of one of the walls of this church, but also see some of the finds – including an amazing “beakhead” ornament which probably adorned the west doorway of the church.

Paul and Kat had already had their garden explored at the 2020 Hyde900 Community Dig, but no remains of the abbey were found other from demolition materials left over after the destruction of the abbey. However, last year’s dig in no less that four other gardens in the vicinity, together the information from the University of Winchester’s ground penetrating radar survey done by David Ashby, indicated that the dig in Paul and Kat’s garden missed the north wall of the nave by only two or three metres. Talking the results over with them, Hyde900 jumped at the offer that we could once again trash their garden again – but to avoid Kat’s peony!

The scale of the dig – limited to one trench and with the likelihood that any remains would be at least 1.5 metres below the grass – dictated that it should be dug by some of Hyde900’s experienced volunteers.

After an early find of a Morris Minor bumper and plenty of demolition rubble left over from the Bridewell, the prison built in 1793 over the site of the church, the team were delighted to see the remains of the core of a medieval wall – amazingly only 80cm below ground level.  Further digging revealed the remains of a huge foundation for what can only be the north wall of the church, no less than 2.8 metres in width. Most stonework had been robbed for reuse – much can be seen in walls around Hyde and further afield – but with floor surfaces to the south, and some intact facing stone to the north, the exact location of the nave has been established. All the detail well be able to be seen by visitors on Saturday.

The results of the dig enabled the Hyde900 expert cartographer Dave Stewart to redraw the north wall abbey church with certainty – but the west end is perhaps for the next annual Hyde900bCommunity dig scheduled for 18 to 21 August. You can register your interest in taking part HERE

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