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Hyde900 2020 Community Dig

datePosted on 13:12, November 2nd, 2020 by Website Admin

Press Release

After months of preparation for the provision of COVID-19 secure events over the King Alfred Weekend, the Hyde900 2020 Community Dig took place over four days on the site of Hyde Abbey in the now traditional (for Hyde900) downpours of rain. For a time, gazebos erected over the trench positions provided some cover for hardy participants of the Dig. However, the winds on Friday put paid to a couple of them! 

The Dig sites were in no fewer than four separate gardens made available by householders, making this the largest and most ambitious Dig put on by Hyde900. The project was run with the help of members of Hyde900, local experts and WARG, a Winchester archaeology and history group. Hundreds of hours of planning were put in by a dedicated team to ensure the Dig met all government guidelines, so as to provide as safe an environment as possible for those taking part. Dig organiser and Hyde900 trustee, David Spurling, said “The level of enthusiasm of those participating – over 200 in total – was extraordinary, especially given the amount of wind and water thrown at them as they dug.”

In the ‘finds’ tent, the items discovered were processed. Here there was excitement aplenty as muddy finds were cleaned to reveal priceless artefacts, all adding to the understanding of the history of this important Abbey which was commissioned by Henry 1 in 1110 as the final resting place of Alfred the Great. As well as fragments of stone, columns and an abacus from the Abbey, this year we were delighted to discover part of a Neolithic flint, a Roman pot and some pieces of Mediaeval encaustic tiles with a pattern not hitherto seen.

In the gardens were uncovered the remains of ‘robbed out’ Hyde Abbey walls and also part of the Bridewell floor and walls – the prison built over the remains of the Abbey in 1788 to serve the county.

Steve Brine MP came with his son to help dig. They were thrilled to find an oyster shell – one of a collection of shells discovered from what must have been the remains of the Abbey kitchens. Steve said, “Well done the volunteers of Winchester’s Hyde900 for organising another Community Dig today. A huge amount of work given the COVID-safe requirement and the elements.”

The Mayor, Councillor Patrick Cunningham, arrived with his family on Sunday to take a tour of the Dig sites. They were fascinated to learn what lay beneath these Hyde gardens and intrigued to be able to handle such ancient artefacts. Dr John Crook, consultant archaeologist to Winchester Cathedral, St George’s Windsor and St Cross Hospital Winchester, was on hand to explain the importance of the finds in one of the gardens, where we discovered the continuation of an Abbey wall and pavement found in an adjoining garden during the Community Digs in 2017 and 2018. Some of those discoveries are now exhibited in the City Museum, courtesy of the Hampshire Cultural Trust, in two display stands: part of a cloistral arch and fascinating finds from the two Digs.

Other notable events during the Hyde900 King Alfred Weekend were:

An absorbing lecture by Dr Patrick Ottaway on the subject “King Alfred of Wessex: England’s greatest town planner?” Link to the recording at www.hyde900.org.uk

The annual King Alfred Service at St Bartholomew’s Church, in King Alfred Place (www.threesaints.org.uk), the only remaining Abbey building still in use; followed by a blessing and laying of flowers on the gravestones in Hyde Abbey Garden, marking the putative burial place of Alfred, Aelswitha and their son Edward the Elder.

Guided walks around the area of the Abbey and visits to Hyde Abbey Garden.


Community Dig 2020 Gallery

To see an enlarged version please click on the image

16 item(s)

To see an enlarged version please click on the image


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Hyde900 have organised a further community dig event to take place October 22nd to 25th to coincide with the Council of British Archaeology Festival of Archaeology and Hyde900’s annual King Alfred Weekend. Extensive COVID-19 mitigation measures are in place to make this as safe an experience as possible, and the dig meets government guidelines in full. However local and national guidelines may change at any time prior to the dig which might lead to its postponement. In this case all those booked will be contacted immediately.

Due to these restrictions the number of places on the dig this year is severely restricted, so we advise booking as soon as possible.

The cost per 2 hour session is £12 unless you are a member of Hyde900, in which case the cost is £8Children 11 and under are free.

Membership of Hyde900 costs £10/year for individual members£15/year for households.

We would recommend that you join Hyde900 as this will enable you be alerted to future digs – and the many other exciting events put on by Hyde900.


The history of Hyde Abbey and the 2020 Hyde900 Community Dig: an introduction by Professor Martin Biddle


Please note the following additional points in respect of any booking
  • Should the dig have to be postponed, your fees will be refunded on request, or held over against any a booking at a future Hyde900 event
  • Any participant under 18 must be accompanied by a responsible adult and will need to be booked in.
  • You will receive a confirmation of booking following completion of your booking(s).
  • There are certain COVID-19 measures which are requirements of attendance at the dig. These include the need to wear face coverings unless the participants are under 12 years old or have particular health conditions.
  • A further confirmation of booking will be sent 4 days in advance of the start of the dig with detailed instructions on the need for Covid-19 precautions together with joining instructions

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Heritage Open Days 2020

datePosted on 15:52, September 6th, 2020 by Website Admin

LATE NEWS! 20.00 Friday: Due to cancellation 4 spaces are now available Saturday!

Once again Hyde900 will be supporting the Winchester Heritage Open Day events with “in person” tile making which takes full account of the limitations imposed by the current pandemic. By kind permission of the Dean and Chapter of Winchester Cathedral, the event will take place in the precinct of the Cathedral and will feature the opportunity not only to make a tile in the medieval manner, but also to view the finds from recent excavations in gardens on the site of Hyde Abbey.

Visitors who have booked for tile making will have the opportunity of choosing from a selection of patterns to use in the free tile making workshop, open for all ages to take part. For a fee they  can also have their tiles fired and glazed for collection early in 2021.

Workshops need to be booked in advance HERE. The display will showcase the finds from the Hyde900 community digs on the site of the cloisters of Hyde Abbey. This will include further amazing finds associated with the stunning Norman cloister arch from the original build of the abbey now displayed in the adjacent Winchester museum. There will be a display of finds of encaustic tiles from the dig and others discovered in the past within the precincts of Hyde Abbey.

The miniature head (about the length of your thumb!) found at 14 King Alfred Terrace
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Local resident and owner of the garden yielding the arch fragments, Chris Prior, spotted interesting stonework and tiles in a skip outside a house at the top end of his road. The discovery was to lead him to the remains of a previously unknown medieval building:

  • Flint faced foundations of a wall, over one metre wide, is in exact alignment with the cloister buildings.
  • A densely packed 10 to 20cm thick layer of shells, mainly oyster, but including mussels, whelks, and winkles, possibly indicating the site of the abbey kitchens.
  • Other finds including stonework, brick and tiles dating mainly from the 12th century to late medieval..

A hugely exciting discovery – to be investigated further in the Hyde900 Community Dig, now scheduled for 22 to 25 October. Bookings will open towards the end of September.

For further information see the press release and to see additional additional photos please click read more below.

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2020 Hyde900 Community Dig Update

datePosted on 10:21, March 19th, 2020 by Website Admin

Hyde900 have taken the decision along with other similar organisations and events to postpone the annual community dig until October. We hope very much to be able to offer an exciting opportunity for you to get involved in the dig with many opportunities such as excavating, finds processing and logging finds. We will keep you updated on the website. In the meantime the Hyde900 team are working hard to create an extra activity pack this year which will be featured online in the coming weeks, so that you can learn more about Hyde900 and the history of Hyde.  This online pack will have a variety of activities for adults and children, which we hope you will enjoy. In the meantime, please do feel free to register your interest in our future dig.

Young archaeologists in the making at the 2017 Hyde900 Community Dig
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One of the major excavations of the abbey site was the 1995-99 Community dig  exploring areas adjacent to the abbey church. The trenches included those in the vicinity of the abbey gatehouse, the abbey mill and the abbey guesthouse. However the major excavations were located at the east end of the abbey church. The results of these are shortly to be published by the Hampshire Cultural Trust through a grant from Historic England.

A local resident, Barbara Hall, took a series of photographs of these digs, together with a set which recorded the design and construction of a garden, designed by renowned garden designer Kim Wilkie, which reflected the design of the east end of the church as revealed in the community digs. Through her generosity, and courtesy of a grant from Hampshire Archives Trust the photographs have now been digitised by Hampsire Record Office .

The photographs can be accessed from the gallery below.


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