Rediscovering the past

According to reports, archaeologists think theymay have found a ‘lost’ monastery where England’s first King, Edgar the Peaceful, was crowned. The story was linked on the Amerika blog where I first saw it.

It seems that archaaeologists were surprised to find this significant site next to the famous Bath Abbey. They noted that the location had what appeared to be Anglo-Saxon architecture in these two structures. As Bath was built by Romans during the time of their dominance in Britain, apparently most of the structures there are Roman in origin, so the presence of Anglo-Saxon style architecture got the attention of the archaeologists.

“After finding the Anglo-Saxon stone structures, archaeologists used a method called radiocarbon dating on charcoal found in some of the plaster of one of these apses. Since scientists know the rate of decay of radioactive carbon, they can use that to infer how long an object has been in the ground.

The charcoal dated to 780-970 and 670-770, Wessex Archaeology found. This time window suggests that the abbey was once part of the Anglo-Saxon monastery where Edgar was coronated, in 973.
He added that “this, together with the late Saxon stonework and burials found at the Abbey, provides increasingly strong evidence that we have, indeed, found part of Bath’s lost Anglo-Saxon monastery,” where Edgar the Peaceful was coronated.”

The Wessex Archaeology website has more historical information and clarifies some of the information in the other article.

If you go to the Wessex Archaeology page, you can scroll down to the pictures of two stone crosses, or fragments, as it appears. The article describes them as ‘late Saxon crosses’, but if you look at them you will see a familiar style of carving on them. The carving is like the typical ‘Celtic’ interlace style of decoration. I think most of us have been habituated to think this design is indicative of ‘Celtic’ culture when in fact it was found on many artifacts from Scandinavia as well as England. I am not trying to deny credit to the Celtic people for that style; it just seems evident to me that there was a widespread culture which pervaded much of Northern and Northwestern Europe. England was also part of that culture.

Articles like this do remind us that there is still a lot to be discovered from Britain’s past. We are far from knowing everything about that time and place. But it seems ironic to be finding these remains of a distant past when the culture of Britain is now in danger of dissolving.

Another archaeological find in the UK

The Express (UK) newspaper has a story dating from December 2019 describing a new find in the vicinity of the Coventry Airport. Joel Day, the writer of the  piece, describes finds, what he describes as ”a wealth of Roman and Anglo-Saxon artefacts” at the burial site. Included among the finds, from gravesites near the airport, are items indicating that the buried included a Roman officer and a young Roman girl.

There were also a dozen Anglo-Saxon graves at the site. One of the Anglo-Saxon graves evidently was that of a “high-status” individual.

Of the jewelry that was found, the experts say that some link to southern Europe was indicated by the motifs used, or the symbolism, such as that of a cicada.  Roman-style jewelry was found.

But should this be a shock, or a startling find? It’s been said for years that the Roman Empire carried on a trade with Britain even in the time of Jesus, and before; there was the tin trade between ‘the Isles’ and Rome.  There was seagoing traffic between the Phoenicians and western Europe.But it’s good to have some verification, if this find provides it, that Britain was not isolated from the rest of the known world then. Some dispute that, but it seems more plausible than not.






The Pentney hoard

No doubt some of you have read about, or seen, the Pentney hoard. It was found in 1977 in Norfolk (the UK Norfolk, of course) in 1978. It was quite a find, at least from an aesthetic viewpoint, but it also is of interest to the archaeology scholars. Read more about it on the ‘Daily Timewaster’ blog, at the link in the first line. I think it’s hardl a waste of time to take a look at the article and the photos.

The hoard consists of seven intricately-crafted brooches, mostly of silver, and they’re said to be a good example of 9th century Anglo-Saxon style silver craftsmanship.

Early 9th century Anglo-Saxon silver brooches, found at Pentney, Norfolk, in 1977. On display at the British Museum, London.

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