Day 7 – Anglo-Saxon masonry is revealed

At the start of our second week, it was good to see a steady flow of visitors to our viewing platform over the course of the day.

15 Jul platform in use

We have continued machining off the tarmac paths and this surface has now largely been removed.  By the Memorial Garden, there is no make-up under the path and we have been able to go down quite a long way in what I was calling Trench 3 in posts last week.  We have still not hit natural chalk, so there is more archaeology to dig in this area.

Over on the path running along the south side of the church, we were surprised to find that underneath the tarmac was a brick path.

15 Jul Brick path looking west


We are unsure when this path was laid, but it appears to be later than the surface that we know was laid when the Anglo-Saxon church was back-filled in 1929.  So these bricks may have been laid towards the end of the 1930s.  But we are also pretty certain from its composition that the first tarmac was laid no later than the 1950s.  So perhaps the bricks did not work very well as a path.  It is possible that they proved slippery in bad weather.  All we can say is that they were tarmacked over very soon after being laid.

In the area to the south of the path, the apse of the Anglo-Saxon church has been revealed just below the surface as we thought it would be.  Here it is being uncovered for the first time in 90 years.

15 Jul The apse revealed

Further cleaning has revealed what appears at first sight to be a kink in the wall.  However, appearances may be deceptive.

15 Jul apse looking north

You can see that the curved end of the apse has apparently been marked out in the bricks of the path.  If you follow this curve round, it does marry up with the curve of the wall to the left of the picture above.  At the moment, it would appear that the outside wall of the apse is not preserved to a uniform height and the top of the outside wall in the middle of the picture above is still buried.  The wall that you can see is a structure projecting into the church, perhaps the base for something.  What is odd is that Canon Jenkins did record a projection of this kind on the other side of the apse in the area still under grass above, but not where we are currently digging.  Right at the moment, it is too early to say much about this, but it raises some interesting questions.

Jenkins plan of church field notes

Whether this projection is similar to the one marked T on the plan drawn by Canon Jenkins in his field notes (see above) remains to be seen.  He clearly did not mark a projection on his plan where we are digging, rather the opposite, so we probably won’t make sense of this until we have fully excavated the apse and can see the walls in detail.

In the meantime, here is a reminder of what the structure looked like shortly before 1905.  The postcard is helpfully post-dated January 1905.  Picture postcards of this kind, with a picture on one side and the address and message on the back, first appeared only in 1902, so this gives quite a small date range for the image.  The wall we are currently excavating is at the bottom left of the postcard view.

Anglo-Saxon church at Lyminge before Jan 1905



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