Press Release – August 2022

Hyde900 Community Archaeology Dig Finds “Lost  Cellar”

Hyde900 have just completed their sixth community dig with some extraordinary results, even for this heritage rich site. Blessed by excellent weather and huge local interest the event attracted over 140 diggers of all ages. The search  for the remains of the buildings in three gardens on the site of Hyde Abbey, the last resting place of Alfred the Great, took place in King Alfred Terrace, an area which, until the Dissolution, was the location of the cloisters and abbots lodging of Hyde Abbey. This year the dig had the added excitement of the possibility of locating a lost cellar rumoured to exist in one of the gardens.

The dig also returned to a garden where the 2020 excavations uncovered the remains of a two-storey building with a major find of 5 kilos of medieval window glass currently being evaluated by Historic England. The third garden was the likely site of part of the monks’ refectory.

The find of the event was, without doubt the discovery of the rumoured cavern, which was likely to have been the main culvert for the medieval water supply to the refectory, kitchens and infirmary of the abbey, as well as the latrines associated with the monks’ dormitory. Another important find was an additional wall in the large two storey building, with a huge hearth possibly associated with a kitchen, or to provide warmth to the building. A major wall was found in the third garden, adding to the understanding of the layout of the monks’ refectory.

All three gardens yielded large numbers of finds including Roman pottery, medieval tiles and other building materials, as well as a large number of oyster shells and bones.

Visitors to the dig included the Mayor and Professor Martin Biddle, who has taken a keen interest in the progress of the Hyde900 digs over the years. Prof Biddle commented “The discovery of a sophisticated example of a medieval  vaulted culvert, is extraordinary. The culvert would have distributed water from the mill dam to the abbey’s inner precinct buildings” The trench revealing the entrance to the culvert contained Victorian and later debris, as well as demolition material from the abbey. John Crook, an independent architectural historian and the dig’s archaeological consultant was particularly interested, having explored a similar structure servicing Winchester’s cathedral and Winchester College.

The dig was supported by a grant from local estate agents Belgarum, with graphic design from Adam Architecture and the loan of equipment from WARG.  The digs could not have taken place without the enthusiastic loan of gardens by householders of King Alfred Terrace. Further details and information about the dig, including a presentation on the find of medieval glass,  will be a part of the forthcoming King Alfred Weekend which takes place from October 20th – 23rd.

Community Dig 2022 News Coverage

Community Dig 2022 Photo Gallery

Chalk vault abuts stone structure
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