Community Dig 26 to 29 August 2022

datePosted on 22:06, February 13th, 2024

6 King Alfred Place SO23 7DQ (SU 48234 30147)
Courtesy of Paul and Kath McCullogh
Supervisors Dr David Ashby, Mike Brace

Introduction

As part of the 2020 Hyde900 Community Digs programme two trenches had been put in to try to establish the location and fabric of the north wall of Hyde Abbey church. Whilst excavations carried out on the eastern end during 1995 to 1999 had provided information on the approximate position and orientation of the wall of the church, the excavations in 2020 by Hyde900 in this and an adjacent garden failed to find evidence of it. However, a geophysical survey (undertaken with the help of the University of Winchester) subsequently yielded a strong response located between the two trenches of the 2022 dig.

The Excavations

Trench 33

Guided by the Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) response a small group of volunteers dug a 3 X 1.5M trench positioned to the north of the 2020 trenches of the previously assumed line of the wall. The trench encountered a layer of demolition material from the 18th century county Bridewell (built over the site of the church and cloisters) followed by abbey demolition deposits. These deposits included a beakhead ornament (Photo 1) now in Winchester City Museum) of exceptional quality, exhibiting a reddish hue probably attributable to exposure to fire. It is likely to have been part of a voussoir from the arch of the west door to the church.
The foundations of the abbey were found approximately 1.2 metres below current ground level. The wall core and adjacent mortar foundation layer for the nave floor was cut by a trench associated with the construction of the Bridewell (prison). The northern area of the trench revealed in situ worked facing stonework (Photo 2), the first so far to be found in the inner court. Adjoining this to the north side of the wall core was the remains of an adjacent buttress.
The results show that the location and orientation of the north wall of the nave has now been established, enabling a revised outline of the church to be produced (Plan 1). Despite this the position of the west end is still uncertain. However we hope to carry out an additional GPR survey which will indicate if the abbey church extends further west, or whether this excavation has revealed the location of the elusive west end.


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