We are continuing to excavate the burials within the chancel of the Anglo-Saxon church in order to see if we can understand when burial began. We think this was probably in the later medieval period, after the Anglo-Saxon church was demolished, but this is an hypothesis we have to test by digging.
The observant amongst you may have spotted that the skeleton above is missing most of his right thigh bone. This seems to have been sliced off by Canon Jenkins’ workmen when they were building the retaining wall that supported the path over this area.
To the east of the chancel of the standing church, on the path leading from the main gate into the churchyard off Church Road, we have come down on to chalk bedrock. There is some evidence of industrial activity in this area, with both pottery and iron slag from a crucible, but no structures. The trench has encountered the foot of a burial, so we can see that these were being crammed into the old churchyard absolutely everywhere.
On the path from the Old Rectory, we have explored to quite a depth. This area is to the south of the church, but lies also at the bottom of a slope, north east of the outer parts of the monastic enclosure explored in 2008-10. Because of the slope, we had hoped to find hill wash from the parts of the monastic enclosure lying up the hill. Unfortunately, beneath the Victorian gravel path we found grave fill, and at the bottom of the trench, more burials. We have now back-filled this area.
Over by the War Memorial in the New Churchyard, we have explored another area east of where we were digging yesterday but there is no continuation of the post hole structure.
We were visited by our consultant geologists Joan and Harry Blows yesterday. They are looking at the stone of both the Anglo-Saxon church and the standing church to identify the sources. On the whole these are local as you would expect, but we have two fragments of Oolithic limestone which may be from France. The quoins (corner stones) of the chancel and nave of the standing church appear to be Quarr stone from the Isle of Wight. This is very distinctive and the quarry was used only for a short time in the late 11th and early 12th Centuries. There are also a few stray blocks of Quarr stone in the church walls.
Finally, here is a photo to prove that the diggers are not always working and we do allow them some time off during the day!