The Lyminge Archaeological Project
The website for the project together with updated information and project publications can be found at: www.lymingearchaeology.org.
The Lyminge project team are happy to announce the arrival of two key publications - one academic and the other aimed at a public audience - off the back of another highly successful excavation season in summer 2013. The first, by Project Director, Dr Gabor Thomas, published in the September 2013 volume of the Antiquaries journal, provides a detailed synthesis of excavations between 2008 to 2012. The paper assesses and contextualises the results in a chronological framework emphasising Lyminge's capacity to provide new insights into how the founding of monasteries in Anglo-Saxon England redefined a pre-existing stratum of central places embedded in the power structures of the pagan past.
The second article, by Project Post-Doctoral Research Assistant, Dr Alexandra Knox, has just appeared in issue 284 of Current Archaeology. While revealing more details concerning the remarkable Anglo-Saxon feasting hall discovered in 2012, the article also takes the opportunity to highlight the community dimension of the Lyminge project and key discoveries dating from the prehistoric and medieval periods.
The project, funded by the AHRC, intends to pioneer a holistic approach to the archaeological examination of Anglo-Saxon monastic landscapes at Lyminge, Kent, the site of a documented double monastery (a mixed-sex community presided over by a royal abbess) founded in the 7th century.
Although it has long been recognised that it is essential to relate the core buildings of early medieval monastic communities to their wider landscape context, few opportunities have arisen to examine sites on a sufficiently large scale. This project will address this need by generating a high resolution reconstruction of the physical organisation and material practices of Lyminge's documented monastic community, tracked through space and time from the 6th through until the 9th centuries. At the same time, it will bring a fresh Kentish perspective into an academic arena currently dominated by Northumbrian and northern British case-studies. Lyminge's geo-political context, key to the primary stages of the Anglo-Saxon conversion, will be exploited to lay new emphasis on the social antecedents of monasticism in pre-Viking England and to provide better understanding of regional and institutional diversity within the early Anglo-Saxon church.
The historic core of the village has been evaluated systematically in intricate detail by geophysical survey and excavation undertaken during a pilot phase of fieldwork from 2008-10. This work demonstrates that Lyminge has excellent horizontal preservation covering an extensive swathe of the outer precincts of the monastic settlement, combined with an unbroken vertical sequence spanning both monastic-phase occupation and a settlement precursor of the 5th-7th centuries AD. As such, the project has potential to answer a suite of questions on the process of monastic foundation in the kingdom of Kent, a region crucial to the earliest stages of the Anglo-Saxon conversion.