It was a warm day and for once we had excellent conditions for the site tour: no rain, no wind. We had some 85 visitors crowding the viewing platform, which was a great turn-out. From a straw poll, about half those attending were seeing the site for the first time.
We started off looking at the 7th Century church within its context, both in terms of its place in the history of Lyminge and how it related to the Norman church standing alongside, and then looking at the structure itself.
We then moved on to look at the remains in the New Churchyard up by the War Memorial. Here we believe we have remains of the Middle Saxon monastery as well as part of the complex that included an “aula” or great hall restored by Archbishop Peckham in the years after 1279, and which may have have been demolished by Archbishop Courtenay around 1382.
There was a chance to look at a selection of finds from the dig in the church. This included a coin discovered in the War Memorial trench, which was issued by Archbishop Ceolnoth, who was Archbishop from 833 to 870. This is a period when Kent was subject to Danish raids and there was a great deal of insecurity locally. The last reference to the monastery at Lyminge is during his episcopate in a charter of 844. Nothing is heard of it for the next 120 years, after which it re-emerges as part of the estates of Christ Church, the monastery that was attached to Canterbury Cathedral, so it clearly underwent a transformation during this period. This coin, which is in very good condition, is a tantalising connection to this very uncertain period when little is known about Lyminge.
This was the last Saturday site tour. Next Saturday, 31 August, is the last day of the dig. There will be a final presentation on the results of the excavation and our initial conclusions, given by Gabor Thomas in the church at 7pm. Refreshments will be available. This will also be an opportunity to hear more about how we plan to carry on with the project through to the end of next year. There is lots more to come from Pathways to the Past: Exploring the legacy of Ethelburga, so come along next Saturday and continue to watch this space!