The End of the Pathways to the Past Project – a grand finale

What an absolutely super weekend we have all had! The weather was kind and there has been lots of fun for everyone.

For many, the highlight was the encampment of Anglo-Saxon re-enactors on Tayne Field. Not only did we have two local groups, Ost Centingas and Haestingas, putting on a excellent joint show, but we also had a long ship that had sailed up the Nail Bourne from Canterbury (well actually it came on the back of a trailer, but it makes a good story!)

The group had many craft activities on display and this provided lots of interest for visitors over the two days. We estimate attendance at between 250 and 300 each day.

The big set-piece display of each day was based around a drama involving a group of Frisians trying to sell an under-size warship to the King of Kent. Of course while it all ended badly for the crooked Frisians in the drama, at least the warriors were resurrected later in the display to give further demonstrations of fighting in the shield wall and in single combat. It was hugely enjoyed by everyone.

Up at the Parish Church, things were a little less frenetic. A magnificent quilt show was put on by local group Ethelburga Quilters, and they took full advantage of the space to create a riot of colour and creativity.

At the archaeological display unit in the North Aisle, some of the designs were on display that were used to create Monument to Ethelburga, the ragstone sculpture that is now in the churchyard. The touch screen showing the reconstructions of the Anglo-Saxon church continued to attract some interest too..

The climax of events was on the Saturday night when we hosted a barbeque at the church for all the volunteers who have worked on the project over the past three years. It was a lovely balmy evening, and a great time was had by everyone. It was delightful to welcome back to Lyminge Dr Gabor Thomas of Reading University, and his family. Gabor has done more than anyone to uncover the archaeology of Lyminge, and we are most grateful for all he has done since he began work in Lyminge in 2007.

It was a celebration of three amazing years. It was an opportunity to thank everyone who has made the project possible. If you have followed this blog, you will know about all many achievements of the project, and we did talk about these. But finally Rob Baldwin, project manager, encouraged everyone to raise their glasses to the man without whom there would have been no project at all.

Had it not been for Canon Jenkins who began in the 1850s to search for the tomb of Queen Ethelburga in the area around the church, we wouldn’t have known that there was a significant masonry church right below our feet. It’s true that the Canon’s archaeological techniques left something to be desired, his way of recording, he did stretch the truth of what he actually saw and recorded, and he certainly drew unwarranted and extravagant conclusions. But nevertheless we owe Canon Jenkins a debt because the driving force for the Pathways to the Past project was to examine that church once again and seek to understand it. We are still working on this, but we now know much. much more than we did just two years ago when the dig began. And in addition we have step-free access to the church, new paths, information panels around the village, an archaeological display in the church, specially commissioned reconstructions, and new contemporary art for our church. The legacy of the project will continue through the management plan for the churchyard, through the modern pilgrimage route of the Royal Saxon Way, and through the new visitor information being created for the village in partnership with the Parish Council. We are grateful that Canon Jenkins created the opportunity for us to make all this possible. For this, we owe him a lot.

Canon Robert Charles Jenkins (1815-96), Rector of Lyminge 1854-96

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