Day 8 – The Anglo-Saxon church begins to take shape

Nice though the brick path revealed yesterday appeared to be, on closer examination it was not in great shape.  Many of the bricks were cracked and shattered, and clearly they had not done a good job although a lot of effort had gone into laying them.  We believe that the bricks were laid in the late 1930s and probably were covered up with tarmac early in the 1950s.  They were probably quite slippery when wet, which is not ideal on a slope, such as we have at Lyminge.  Anyway, the brick path is now no more.

16 Jul clearing brick path

Having taken away the bricks, we can also see that the grills, laid across the path prior to 1905 and visible in the postcard below were mostly removed before the bricks were laid.

Anglo-Saxon church at Lyminge before Jan 1905

Just one of the grills remained in place, in front of the porch on the path leading to the Old Rectory.  This was embedded in concrete and required some considerable effort to remove it.

16 Jul removing the grating

16 Jul grating

On the other side of the path up against the standing church, we have begun to break up the guttering which was in a poor state in any event.  This was hard, hot work as the sun was out and shining strongly on the contractor with the jack hammer.  Sweat was literally running off him.  So all credit to him.  He was doing a great job.

We are able to remove the guttering at the base of the church walls permanently as the new hard surface, when laid, will be porous and it will not be necessary to have a visible gutter.  Water falling on the surface will simply drain straight through.  This will have the benefit of reducing the risk of icing in bad weather.

16 Jul breaking the gutter

We are using our contractors for the heavy work involved in preparing the site for the archaeological excavation, and we employing machinery where it is needed.  Without this preparation by our contractors who have the appropriate equipment,  our volunteers would be spending their time removing the modern paths and would not be focusing on the archaeology beneath.  We still have a few more days of site preparation, but by Saturday, we should be ready to go.

In the meantime, we have investigated a section of the apse, which is the curved end of the Anglo-Saxon church.  We began to examine this yesterday, and have exposed quite a bit more today, making sense of the odd kink in the wall that appeared on the surface.

16 Jul the apse

What we can now see is that some of the outer face of the wall is missing so that the uppermost level of the wall does not reflect the footprint.  In addition, there is what appears to be a kind of niche on the inside.  This was identified by Canon Jenkins and is one of three round the inside of the apse.  Right next to each other, these two features make the wall appear wavy, but this appearance is completely deceptive, and the photo below shows how the footprint is in reality nicely curved.

16 Jul the apse 2

The wall appears to be in remarkably good condition, and the mortar is hard and well-preserved.  We were not expecting this.  The PCC minutes from October 1929, when it was agreed to re-bury the remains, indicated that they were suffering from the weather.  This is not apparent from what we have seen so far.  It appears that the mortar is original, and there are only small amounts of modern cement on the top of the wall where the modern surface was laid directly over.  Otherwise, the wall is in good shape.

16 Jul Opening the apse

We have cleared the modern backfill from the gap between the outside of the church wall and the retaining wall that is holding back the churchyard to the south.  We have done this for the short southerly section that curves from where the apse currently disappears under the path to the porch round to the path leading to the Old Rectory.  This is the section at the bottom of Canon Jenkins’ original field plan below, including the niche at the bottom of the plan.  This plan is orientated with north at the top.  The second niche at the east end of the apse is still buried beneath the path.  So far, we have not removed any backfill from the interior of the church.  There are no small finds of any significance.

Jenkins plan of church field notes

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