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Hyde Abbey Winchester community dig 2022-6 King Alfred Place, Winchester

By 06/05/2022September 20th, 2022News

Hyde 900 is a voluntary group established to celebrate the 900th anniversary of the foundation of Hyde Abbey in 1110. Hyde Abbey was built to replace the ‘New Minster’, demolished to make way for the current Cathedral; King Alfred was buried in New Minster along with his Queen Alswitha and son Edward. Their remains and of others were moved to Hyde Abbey. The abbey eventually closed in the Dissolution of 1538.

Winchester Archaeological Research Group (WARG) was established as a local voluntary group back in the time of Martin Biddle’s excavations in Winchester and has thrived in recent years, providing a opportunity for people to get involved in various field projects in Winchester and its District.

Hyde 900 and WARG have combined to run, over the last five years, test pit investigations in the gardens of houses in Hyde (a suburb north of the historic core) to try and confirm the plan of the abbey church and its cloisters. The investigations have revealed a number of remarkable finds including fragments of architectural detail, encaustic floor tiles, medieval painted window glass as well as walls and floors that aid the reconstruction of the plan of the abbey.

The recent dig at 6 King Alfred Place (my house!) has targeted a very strong response on a GPR survey on the line of the projected north wall of the abbey church. The dig has found the north wall at just 70cm depth, along with a small area of mortar bedding of the once tiled internal floor.

The beakhead (see photo below) was recovered from the demolition deposits above the abbey church’s floor and north wall. It perhaps once adorned a capitol or arch. It seems to be firmly 12th century. We have been providing advice and support to the investigations (and in my case making the ultimate sacrifice of plants in our garden).

The layout of the abbey has now been revised by Dave Stewart & Hyde900, showing the trench in my garden on the north-west corner of the church, which has allowed the plan to be rotated and fixed.

Paul McCulloch

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