2017 Community Dig (27 to 30 April)

Hyde900 organised a community dig event that took place April 27th to 30th, following on from the highly successful event organised last year.

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001In a remarkable post-script to the previous announcement  issued earlier today by Hyde900 concerning the 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.”

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008Two major surprise discoveries lit up the final hours of Hyde900’s Bank Holiday Weekend Community Dig (supported by WARG, the society for Winchester archaeology and local history) to shed new light on the history of Hyde and to solve a mystery linked to St. Bartholomew’s church.

Excavations over the course of three days in the gardens of two houses in King Alfred Terrace covering what is believed to be the cloisters of Hyde Abbey had revealed a mass of building and other material dating back to the middle ages. However it wasn’t until the final day that startling conclusions were reached which could transform our understanding of this area of Winchester.

Potentially most important was the unearthing of a significant amount of Roman mortar fragments together with tesserae (small blocks of clay used in a plain mosaic floor) in one of the five trenches which had been opened up by the volunteer archaeologists. Located at a level lower than that of an adjacent wall and floor – probably part of the medieval monastery – this prompted a re-evaluation of the site. “The volume of material that we have found opens out the possibility of a building from the Roman era in this location,” explained David Ashby from the University of Winchester. “The Roman road from Winchester to Silchester ran about one hundred metres to the west and it is possible that this material came from a nearby house in the countryside just to the north of the Roman city. But we had never seen this before.”

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 2017 Community Dig video



April 26 – Set Up Day

The team arrived to collect equipment  for the dig which was duly moved to the gardens of 14 and 15 King Alfred Terrace, the site of the year’s dig and the second in the series of annual Hyde900 digs on the site of the church and cloisters of the lost minster of King Alfred the Great.

The position of the trenches had been the subject of several discussions – we had  the information on what had been found  during  gardening by Chris Prior, who with his wife Anne owned no 14.

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April 27 – Day One

P>The day got off to an early start with the writer getting to the BBC Radio Solent for an interview at 0725, followed by an hour of traffic jams to return to Winchester. Somewhat vital as I had the Organisation and Sign on tent in the back of the car. However, this was mantled in time to receive the first set of enthusiastic volunteers….

To view videos of the opening day of the dig see the link below.

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April 28 – Day Two


To view videos of todays dig see the link below.

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April 29 – Day Three


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April 30 – Day Four

The writer must apologise for the lack of written updates since Day One. His (inadequate) excuses include the unexpected number of participants in the dig (150 versus the – what we felt would be challenging – target of 100), the level of media interest (features on Solent Radio, visits to site for filming by ITV News and That’s Solent TV), and of course the totally amazing and  unexpected outcomes  of the dig itself……


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