The sun came out for all of five minutes a couple of days ago and we started to realise that the summer, and the next season of digging, is just around the corner – well, after a potentially mythical spring! It’s really not so very far off, so if you’re thinking of volunteering for Lyminge this summer you can sign up for an induction now, and if you’re a student who’s thinking of applying for a bursary, make sure to get your application in before the deadline of 22nd March. You can get more information at the ‘taking part’ tab in the menu at the top of this page.
We’re busy preparing here in Reading and indeed in Kent. On Friday Gabor and I went down to move our exhibition to the Reculver Visitor Centre. We had lots of great feedback about the exhibition at the Canterbury Heritage Centre, so we were really happy to be able to take it over to Reculver, another important monastic site. The five panels have been set up in the visitor centre so if you are visiting this amazing coastal site or just are in the local area you can read all about Lyminge and its Anglo-Saxon history while visiting a site of similar historic importance.
Reculver has its origins as a Roman ‘Saxon shore’ fort, supposedly protection against the marauding Germanic peoples, but there was a Saxon monastery here too, and today the ruins of the 12th century church stand on the clifftops, creating quite a dramatic historic landscape.
Our excavations at Lyminge show the sort of middle Saxon archaeology you might expect at Reculver, although the development and histories of Lyminge and Reculver are rather different. One major differences is Reculver’s location on the coast and the decline in Reculver’s trading fortunes as the Wantsum channel silted up.
Research on the artefacts and material from Lyminge is of course on going – we are constantly updating records and lots of different people are undertaking analysis on our assemblages throughout the year. Once we get everything out of the ground some of the most interesting work begins! Some of our environmental samples have been sent to Mark McKerracher to look at carefully as part of his PhD thesis at the University of Oxford. Mark is examining the agriculture of the Middle Saxon period, but also writes an incredibly informative and equally entertaining blog on the archaeology and history of agriculture: www.farmingunearthed.wordpress.com
I particularly want to flag up Mark’s great entries on some of the samples from Lyminge which give an insight into how interesting and important some of the botanical remains from Lyminge really are. I know you’ll enjoy the behind-the-scenes view of what happens to those samples we bag up and float and bring back to Reading that many of you have helped to excavate. The samples Mark is examining were excavated in 2008, so what we’re looking at is agricultural practices that are related to the monastic phase, in the 8th and 9th centuries AD.
A final word from me to thank the organisers of the Current Archaeology conference for inviting me to speak on Saturday (2nd March). I was very pleased to be able to talk about Lyminge at a conference attended by such a wide range of people, from renowned archaeologists to the wider readership of the magazine. I had some great conversations after the session, and it was fab to hear about Duncan Sayer’s Early Saxon cemetery site at Oakington and Neil Faulkner’s on-going excavations at Sedgeford that go right through to the later medieval period. Please do click on the links to find out more about these exciting concurrent Anglo-Saxon excavations.