A new archaeological display for the parish church

The new archaeological display in the north aisle of the parish church has now been fully installed.

The exhibits on display are a selection of the few tantalising excavated fragments that give an insight into how the Anglo-Saxon church was built. A graphic panel provides more information about these exhibits. We have used them, as well as other sources, to help visualise this church and a digital 3D interactive reconstruction is accessible through a touchscreen mounted on the display unit.

A great deal of research underpins the reconstruction of Ethelburga’s church, drawing upon the results of the excavation in 2019 that set aside many of the conclusions reached by the original excavator Canon Jenkins in the 19th Century. We now know that he went well beyond the actual evidence, and invented some things and distorted others to fit with his notion of Lyminge as a grand church in the Italian model. But the reality, while a lot smaller than Canon Jenkins imagined, remains pretty special because Lyminge is still one of only a tiny number of churches surviving from the 7th Century. We now know for sure that it was very like the others, so we can compare what was found reasonably confidently with these other buildings. We have used information from these other churches, as well as written evidence and manuscripts of the period to produce a visualisation of what the church may have looked like. You can use the touchscreen to explore the interior in 3D, clicking on arrows to make the image move around through 360 degrees, and opening up additional windows to see more detail on marked features.

The history of the church site is continued with a discussion of the evidence for the shrine of St Eadburg that is known to have been established at Lyminge by 804, and which lasted until 1085 when the remains of both St Eadburg and Queen Ethelburga were taken to what later became the Priory of St Gregory in Canterbury. The present church was begun shortly before in the years soon after the Norman Conquest. The touch screen model shows how it developed, with some of the earlier changes themselves being removed, before arriving at the church structure we know today.

The display unit is made of solid oak and has been created for us from a design developed by heritage consultant Jakaranda Tree. The unit was supplied by long-term local business Thoroughly Wood , and it was built by local craftsmen Neil Heaver and Simon Linch who have recently set up their own workshop at Little Woodland Farm. The display of artefacts and the graphic panels have also been created by Jakaranda Tree, the same team of Laura Samuels (Heritage Consultant) and Lee Simmons (Graphic Designer) who have produced the new information panels for us that were recently installed around the village. The digital 3D interactive model and reconstructions have been developed for us by the Centre for the Study of Christianity and Culture at the University of York, who have an international reputation for the scholarship and skill that they bring to reconstructions of this kind.

We hope you will agree that the complete display is a great addition to the church, and provides a much-needed and accessible picture of the history and development of the church site through 1,400 years. Do come and explore it for yourself.

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