Day 21 – Continuing to explore the chancel and more

30 Jul the chancel

After the big excitement of yesterday finding the column fragment, we have put more effort into reducing the interior of the chancel.  This is ground that was not dug by Canon Jenkins.

30 Jul burial in chancel

As expected, we have found burials.  What is not clear yet is whether these were intentionally buried in the Anglo-Saxon church while it was in use, or whether they were placed close to the standing church and were only placed within the foundations of the Anglo-Saxon church unintentionally after it had been demolished.  There is still archaeological deposit to explore, but the whiter area to the left of the picture is natural chalk bedrock.

30 Jul reducing Trench 3

If you have been reading this blog from the first week of the dig, you may remember what we called Trench 3, which is the path beside the Memorial Garden, leading to the New Churchyard.  We have begun to take the level of this down.  It is possible that the enigmatic fragment of wall just behind the fence in the picture will show a continuation in this trench.  If Canon Jenkins is to be believed, there should also be the destroyed foundations of a wall aligned east-west in this trench.  Whether we will find this or whether it is more an exercise of his imagination remains to be seen.  We do not believe that we will find the central bay of a great basilican church, as imagined in the plan below, but it is just possible that there is evidence for a separate structure in this area.  We already know that the area labelled as an Atrium in the plan was a free-standing structure built possibly a bit before the Norman Conquest.

Canon Jenkins Plan of the church 1875

We continue to wrestle with the Jenkins legacy.  While we remain grateful that he discovered the site and ultimately gave us the opportunity to view the 7th Century Anglo-Saxon church, which otherwise would have remained buried in the churchyard, we do have to recognise that some of his activity was distinctly questionable.  Readers of this blog will already know that we have puzzled over what Canon Jenkins did west of the porch where, according to the plan above, he thought the original entrance of the church lay.  We were already thinking that some of the projecting wall, the dry-stone section below the “niche”, (which we think was actually dug out of the wall by Jenkins) was built by Jenkins.

30 Jul Jenkins wall west of porch

This has now been viewed by a specialist in the architecture of the period and his view is that the whole of the projection, which you can see running right across the picture above, is not original Norman.  Norman foundations were built with much larger blocks.  So his view is that this is most likely to be entirely the work of Canon Jenkins, added as a face to the Norman work behind.  Quite why he did this at the moment remains a mystery.

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