Press Release – July

Bookings open for the Hyde900 2021 Community Dig August 19th to 22nd at Hyde, Winchester


Householders of no fewer than four gardens in Hyde have now signed to have their gardens explored in the fifth annual Hyde900 Community Dig. These are in the area of the site of the church and cloisters of Hyde Abbey, once the final resting place of Alfred the Great.

Previous digs have helped locate the outlines of the cloister for the first time, but the position of the west wing is still a mystery. Also unknown is the area beside the large building – possibly the abbot’s grand lodging – but preliminary research seems to indicate a large paved area of floor to the west of the building.

Bookings are now open for any aged 5 or over to take part in the dig. Tickets can be obtained via the Hyde900 website at https://www.hyde900.org.uk. The event is free to those up to 11 years old, but those attending under 18 must be accompanied by a responsible adult. For those not wanting to take part in the digging, there are options to take part in the sieving for finds and the exciting finds processing, where the full importance of the finds can be uncovered with the assistance of on-site experts.

One household, in particular, is very excited by the prospect. When looking at a house in the Hyde area, they were told that the garden might contain the remains of the great king. So, when Hyde900 approached them, they were happy to agree.

The experts were somewhat perplexed by the rumour – the house is some distance away from the east end of the church where records indicate the bones of Alfred and his family were buried. However, the rumour was proved correct in that research revealed that Maev Kennedy, writing in the Guardian in July 1999 at the site of the church, said:

“Nobody was more surprised than the Winchester archaeologist to arrive yesterday morning and find Alfred the Great standing in the foundations of Hyde Abbey, exactly where they predicted he would be. Alfred had come with the mayor to launch the latest phase of a four-year hunt for the burial place of one of the greatest English kings. Under his crown was local actor Tony Benson. The photographers urged him to take up a pick axe and have a swing at the 900-year-old foundation; the archaeologists cringed.”

However householders in King Alfred Terrace may be disappointed to hear the Hyde900 expert’s predictions that gardens are more likely to be the site of the monk’s dormitory and associated latrines.

Hyde900 are also taking part in the CBA Festival of Archaeology with a stand adjacent to the City Museum in Winchester, in conjunction with Hampshire Cultural trust. This will run from 29th July to 1st August, and will feature exhibits from previous Hyde900 digs, with a rota of experts on hand to explain their significance. Children will be able to rebuild the abbey and there will be conducted tours of the amazing 12th century cloister arch and other finds from the Abbey on display in the museum.