The ancient cathedral of Old Minster and the abbey church of New Minster once stood at the heart of Anglo-Saxon Winchester. Buildings of the first importance, honoured by Anglo-Saxon and Norman kings, these great churches were later demolished and their locations lost. Through an extensive programme of archaeological excavation begun in 1961, and as a result of years of research, the story of these lost minsters can now be revealed. Written by Martin Biddle, Director of the Winchester Excavations Committee and Research Unit, and marvellously illustrated by Simon Hayfield, The Search for Winchester’s Anglo-Saxon Minsters traces the history of these excavations from 1961 to 1970, and shows how they led to the discovery of the Old and New Minsters, bringing back to life the history, archaeology and architecture of Winchester’s greatest Anglo-Saxon buildings.
The Winchester Excavations Committee and Research Unit has moved after 22 years in our office in Summertown, North Oxford. Our old building is being developed (knocked down and rebuilt as something else!) so we had to find ourselves a new home. At the beginning of June, we moved to new offices in Kidlington.
The latest publication from the Winchester Excavations Committee, ‘The Search for Winchester’s Anglo-Saxon Minsters’ was launched on 21st June at The Wessex Centre, Winchester Cathedral. The book is available to purchase in local bookstores and online from Archaeopress.
There’s still time to take part in this year’s dig. Don’t miss out – Book now!
Last year’s community archaeological dig, searching for the walls of Hyde’s medieval abbey cloisters, was hugely successful and enjoyable, uncovering exciting finds that turned out to be of international importance.
This year Hyde900 have been invited back to excavate more sites in the area of the abbey cloisters and are confident that there is more to find – more walls and, hopefully, further stonework to help piece together the layout and architecture of the ancient abbey, which is Alfred the Great’s final resting place.
Hyde900 hope that as many people as possible will participate in the dig. It is open to all ages and abilities. Participants can take part in digging, sieving, cleaning finds and various processing activities, and training will be provided by the supervising archaeologists on site.
Hyde900 said, ‘We are keen to involve young people, to give them a taste of hands-on archaeology and how it brings the past to life … a group of pupils will be coming to take part on the opening afternoon of the dig from St Bede’s primary school (which is located next to the abbey precinct). Please do book your children in to come along with you and participate at the weekend or after school on Friday.
We have a great team running this year’s dig. WARG, Winchester’s Archaeology and Local History Group, will once more be providing archaeological supervision and equipment for the dig, and David Ashby of the University of Winchester has again kindly agreed to be advisor for the event.
We are grateful to be sponsored again for this year’s dig by Belgarum Estate Agents, and have just heard that we are going to receive a £1000 grant from the Aviva Community Fund.’
The dig will be filmed, courtesy of Solent Moviemakers, and you will be able to follow all the action as it unfolds with regular blog posts on the website.
Registration is open for this year’s dig on the Hyde900 website now. Go to the website to sign up and be the first to get booking information and updates – or just to find out more information about this year’s dig.
Bookings for specific time slots will open on the website from March 1st.