Day 22 – Face to face with a villager of the past

01 Aug juvenile in the chancel

We have begun to uncover the first burial within the chancel, which is up against the eastern wall of the Anglo-Saxon apse.  This is a prominent position in the church.  As the body is of a juvenile, perhaps 8 or 9 years old, it seems unlikely that this is a burial that took place when the Anglo-Saxon church was standing.  More likely this church had already been demolished and the burial was orientated towards the current church.

01 Aug juvenile in chancel 2

There is no evidence of a coffin, so this appears to be a shroud burial.  Unfortunately there is nothing clearly diagnostic about the burial to give us a date.  Despite the fragility of the bones, the skeleton is in remarkably good condition, and there may be more information to be obtained from analysis of the bones.  In due course, this child will be reburied in the churchyard in a plot away from the path so that the grave will no longer be walked over.

01 Aug digging the nave

Excavating a grave is painstaking work and needs to be meticulous with delicate tools.  While the burial is being worked on in the chancel, we have moved on to explore the nave, immediately outside the porch of the standing church.

01 Aug considering the nave

The piers of the arcade separating the nave from the chancel have now been clearly exposed and we have hit the chalk bed rock.  This appears as a spine projecting from the cut section in the middle of the picture above.  The ground to either side is not yet showing bedrock because it has been cut away by burials.  Although this appears to be very close to the standing church, it is worth remembering that the porch is quite late, possibly 16th Century, so the original path to the church door may have hugged the church wall more closely.  Thus burials in this position would only have come under the path when the porch was built.

01 Aug planning the nave

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