St Dunstan: His Life, Times, and Cult

By Nigel Ramsay; Margaret Sparks et al. | Go to book overview

Reconstructions of
St Augustine's Abbey, Canterbury,
in the Anglo-Saxon Period

RICHARD GEM
Drawings by Terry Ball

There is an outstanding scholarly need for the evidence from the old excavations at St Augustine's Abbey, Canterbury, to be drawn together and studied better than it has been.1 The only account that did attempt to summarise the excavations at the beginning of the century was that published by Peers and Clapham in Archaeologia for 1928, and this is pitifully inadequate. An additional problem is the apparent conflict between the 1928 plan of the excavations and the other plans drawn up variously by St John Hope ( 1915), Potts ( 1934) and an anonymous 'W.S.' (unpublished, in the archives of English Heritage): in general it seems that the 1928 plan is the least accurate of these. Fortunately more scientific examinations have taken place since those first excavations: those by Saunders have been published ( 1978); as also now have been those by Woods and Sherlock. Any final report by Jenkins on his work at the church of St Pancras, however, remains to appear. There is a major piece of research for someone to do in trying to draw all this together and to track down any unpublished material that may exist. But even in advance of this it is possible to offer various reinterpretations of

____________________
1
For an account of the history of the early excavations see M. J. Sparks, "'The Recovery and Excavation of the St Augustine's Abbey Site, 1844-1947'", Arch. Cant., c ( 1984), pp. 325-44. The published excavation reports cited hereafter are: St W. John Hope, "'Recent Discoveries in the Abbey Church of St Austin of Canterbury'", Archaeologia, lxvi ( 1915), pp. 377-400 (also published in Arch. Cant., xxxii ( 1917), pp. 1-26); C. R. Peers and A. W. Clapham , "'St Augustine's Abbey Church, Canterbury, before the Nomian Conquese", Archaeologia, lxxvii ( 1928), pp. 201-18; R. U. Potts, "'The Plan of St Austin's Abbey Canterbury'", with "'A Note on the Lay-Out of the Cloister'" by A. W. Clapham, Arch. Cant., xlvi ( 1934), pp. 179-94; A. D. Saunders, "'Excavations in the Church of St Augustine's Abbey, Canterbury, 1955-58'", Medieval Archaeology, xx ( 1978), pp. 25-63. D. Sherlock and H. Woods, St Augustine's Abbey, Report on Excavation 1960-78 ( Kent Archaeological Society, 1988), and M. J. Sparks, St Augustine's Abbey, Canterbury, Kent ( London, 1988) had not been published when the present paper was written.

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