Abbey Digs Deeper to Discover Early Origins

The Birmingham Post (England), August 22, 2013 | Go to article overview

Abbey Digs Deeper to Discover Early Origins


Byline: BENHURST ben.hurst@birminghampost.net

A Midland abbey is hoping to uncover new evidence of its Saxon - and possibly Roman - past after winning a grant to enlist an army of volunteers.

Polesworth Abbey, near Tamworth, in North Warwickshire, is to hold a special dig over the next week thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund - and all volunteers are welcome to help out.

The abbey, on the bank of the River Anke, has been the site of some fascinating finds in the past but there are still many secrets to uncover, say experts.

Originally thought to date from the ninth century, the established abbey's origins could be even older, say archeologists, who think that the original religious buildings may even date as far back as Roman times.

Father Philip Wells, the Vicar of Polesworth, said: "Polesworth Abbey is thought to have been founded as long ago as 827, but the excavations last year left us wondering if the foundation might be quite a lot earlier.

"We found evidence of ancestors whose remains seem to be in an area where there were once Saxon dwellings, possibly houses for people who were connected with the Abbey.

"We know that Saxons would not have built on known burial places, so it could be that we have found some evidence of a much older Abbey, possibly from the time of the Roman occupation."

There have been previous community digs at the abbey, in 2011 and 2012, but this year people will also be able to follow the discoveries on YouTube and Twitter.

The Government gave permission for archaeology to take place at the abbey in 2009 and volunteers last year made some major finds, including centuries-old skeletons buried in a long forgotten area of churchyard. Other excavations on the site investigated the dormitory, chapter house and refectory of the medieval abbey.

The oldest find so far has been a decorated Anglo-Saxon pin dating back to 700-900 AD.

Other significant finds included rare decorated medieval floor tiles, of which up to 1,000 have been found, an almost complete medieval window frame, a medieval lead cloth seal, coins from the reigns of George I to George V, clay pipe, fragments of medieval glass, roof tiles and pottery. …

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