A family affair

We’re all madly preparing for the first ever Lyminge Archaeological Project Open Day this Saturday, but the excavations are continuing as ever which means plenty to tell you all about in this post.

Celia and Shena Winning

Celia Winning shows her mum Shena a thing or two about archaeological recording

The number of local people who have volunteered is impressive, but what is really fantastic are the generations involved. Excavations of this size, incorporating the local community, are as much about meeting people, making new friends and connections and having a good time as the serious business of research. We all have a fantastic time digging, and this is reflected in the range of people and ages who have volunteered now that the dig is open to all.

We have whole families volunteering together during the holidays – people have been passing the message on about getting involved.

Rosemary Piddock

Rosemary Piddock sorts the clean finds

John and Rosemary Piddock have been keep supporters of the project, helping with photography and finds, and joining us as representatives of the village at the British Archaeology Awards.

Stuart Hunnisett

Stuart Hunnisett is fully kitted for all weathers!

Niki Hunnisett

Niki Hunnisett on pot washing duty

Josh Hunnisett

Josh Hunnisett's approach to camping at the Lyminge excavations in 2008

Stuart and Niki Hunnisett have generously given lots of their time to the excavations this year, inspired after their son Josh took part in the first phase of the excavations in 2008-2010.

The Winnings are our biggest on-site family – Celia, our assistant field supervisor, has recruited not only her mother, Shena Winning (famous on our site for her cakes as well as her excellent excavation skills!), but her grandmother Jean Winning who has joined the finds


Danielle Winning excavates a cess pit!

washing team, and her cousin Danielle who is also getting down to digging.

Jean Winning

Jean Winning helps with our finds washing backlog

John and Frances Locke have taken part almost from day one this year and have been a huge help all the way.

Eileen Jennings has been finds washing for us for several seasons now, and this year she brought her granddaughter Eleanor Burgin to dig.

Frances Locke

Frances Locke working hard

Olivia Lucas Julian Lucas

Olivia Lucas and her dad Julian excavate a medieval pit

Olivia Lucas and her parents Julian and Karen have also joined the dig, getting stuck into excavating medieval pits!

John Locke

John Locke is quite handy with a mattock!

The volunteering is going strong, but the finds and features are coming up thick and fast too.

The significant feature this week is the exposure of the northern entrance to the hall building, with the flint packing of the post holes clearly visible.

At this stage it is only possible to see that the entrance way is rather elaborate – excavation will help disentangle the different stages of building and establish what kind of a doorway or porch area the northern entrance had.

North entrance to the hall

Keith, Gabor and Les examine the north entrance to the hall. You can make out the two chalky areas that might be post holes, the flint post hole packing, and the door-sized gap between them.

Keith tackles one of the post holes of the north entrance to the hall

Keith tackles one of the post holes of the north entrance to the hall

Keith and Les are getting started excavating this exciting portion of the hall building. The locations of doorways in these buildings is significant, often directed towards another building or a particular aspect of the settlement. Because of this we are almost certain that the hall building will not be an isolated structure, and we may find further similar buildings to the north of the large hall we discovered this season.

Les door post

Les excavates the opposite door post

Finds are coming up thick and fast, so it is great that we have lots of people volunteering for the finds washing and sorting.

You can see from the photos that there is a huge quantity of animal bone, flint and pottery coming up from the features in our trench.

Finds trays

Just a few of the finds trays drying in the sun!

Yet again the sunken-featured building (SFB) is very productive! A particularly interesting find from the SFB this week were what appear to be three crucibles. Two of them were found together, facing each other, and a third, less complete crucible was found at the opposite end of the SFB. Analysis will show if they have been used as crucibles but it is difficult to suggest another function for them – and if they are this is proof of fine metalworking taking place at Lyminge. We can analyse any residues in the bottom of the crucibles and discover which metal it was they were melting.

Two crucibles

Two crucibles were found in the sunken-featured building facing each other. We have left the soil inside them for further analysis later on



The red and white striped glass bead. Beads are very difficult to photograph, so do excuse the shadow!

We also had this beautiful glass bead from the SFB, with parallels in early Saxon graves from Norfolk, such as the cemetery at Morning Thorpe. It is decorated with red and white stripes on a green glass base.

It isn’t just the pretty artefacts, or the metalworking related artefacts  that are interesting though! After the find of the horse bridle fitting all we needed was a horse. Les obliged by almost immediately finding a horses’ head and upper body in one of the northernmost ditches in the trench!

Les and his horse's head

Les found us a horse to go with our bridle mount!

Amy Hammett

Amy Hammett, our new assistant finds supervisor

As we have so many interesting finds, we are very lucky to have our new assistant finds supervisor at last! Amy Hammett has been in Africa but has come to Lyminge for the second half of our excavations  to help Helen as the pace of discovery picks up. We’re really pleased to welcome her to the dig.

I hope as many of you as can make it will be coming to our open day this Saturday – take a look at the previous blog post or go to the Events page on this blog for details and the times of tours and activities. If you can’t be there, I’ll be taking pictures and recording the day so you’ll be able to see the Saxon re-enactors and all the other goings on right here. We hope to see you this Saturday from 10am-4pm, and if you needed any more incentive, the Coach and Horses pub, immediately adjacent to the dig, is holding a Beer Festival this weekend too. The perfect day out!

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4 Responses to A family affair

  1. Paddy Fraser says:

    The blog gets better and better, Alexandra. Don’t know how you find the time. Many thanks for it. I hope to get back to washing, or sorting, now my visitors have gone. (Unkind of me, I guess, but irresistible, to express delight at evidence of a horse wedding and look forward to more.)
    Best wishes, Paddy

    • Alexandra says:

      Thank you for your kind comments Paddy! I’ll get on to changing that unfortunate spelling mistake straight away!

  2. Helen Knox says:

    Can’t wait to see all this tomorrow! Weather promises to be fine so it should be a great day out. I think a horse wedding should be written into the history books…..

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