Press Release – August

COMMUNITY ARCHAEOLOGY DIG ATTRACTS OVER 250 DIGGERS


Hyde900’s fifth community dig attracted a record 260 people to dig last week in no less than five gardens close to the site of Hyde Abbey, Alfred the Great’s last resting place. The results exceeded all expectations, with finds of both abbey walls and floor surfaces from the medieval monastic buildings, with over 80 children taking part, the excitement was palpable as the finds mounted up. 

Visitors who decided to take part in the digging included the mayor and local MP Steve Brine accompanied by his two children.

The expert archaeologists in charge chose locations for the trenches based upon extensive research supplemented by ground penetrating radar surveys carried out by David Ashby of the University of Winchester. The expert archaeologists in charge chose locations for the trenches based upon extensive research supplemented by ground penetrating radar surveys carried out by David Ashby of the University of Winchester.

On Day 1 there was a find of a silver three penny coin with Day 2 starting to see the beginnings of mortar from the destruction of the abbey as a result of Henry VIII’s  dissolution of the monasteries. Day 3 finds included fragments of medieval pottery and the beginning of sightings of the robbed out foundations of the fourteenth century walls of the abbey.

The excitement mounted as Day 4 produced finds ranging from Roman pottery and to medieval drinking vessels. By the end of the day diggers had revealed foundations of no less than three walls – previously unknown – and stonework of the original 12th century abbey. The walls included an original 12th century section of plastered wall with the original tiled floor adjacent to it.  Up to now, the location of the cloisters has been a matter of guesswork, but the architectural advisor to the project, Dr John Crook, now feels that it may be necessary to redraw the image of the abbey as a result of the new discoveries.

Hyde900 trustee and dig organiser, David Spurling, expressed delight with the outcome of the event  “a quarter of those attending were children, who were excited and just loved  to be learning about archaeology – and so much  more new knowledge of the abbey has been gained this year than was ever  expected”

Visitors to the dig included Tim Tatton-Brown ,  Consultant Archaeologist to St George’s Chapel, Windsor, and Salisbury Cathedral, and Professor Martin Biddle, who has taken a  keen interest in the progress of the Hyde900 digs over the years.

Visitor who decided to take part in the digging included the mayor – her consort wisely decided to supervise – and local MP Steve Brine accompanied by his two children.

The dig was supported by grants from the Council of British Archaeology Wessex and local estate agents Belgarum, with graphic design from Adam Architecture and the loan of equipment from Winchester Archaeology Rescue Group (WARG). 

The digs could not have taken place without the enthusiastic loan of gardens by householders of King Alfred Place, Alswitha Terrace and  King Alfred Terrace.

People can find lots more information on Hyde900’s activities on www.Hyde900.org website.