Archaeologists from the University of Reading have uncovered the remains of Anglo-Saxon hall that would have accommodated at least 60 people. The discovery has been made at the Lyminge Archaeological project, which has already produced several important finds.
The archaeological team has been able to completely uncover the outline of the hall, which measures 21 metres by 8.5 metres, and believe that it dates from the late sixth or early seventh century.
Gabor Thomas, who is leading the archaeological dig, told the Guardian “This would undoubtedly have been the scene of many Beowulfy type activities, great assemblies for feasts that lasted for days, much drinking and story-telling, rich gifts like arm rings being presented, all of that. There could have been no more visible sign of wealth and status than raising a hall like this.”
The archaeologists have been blogging about the site excavations, and have shown off some of their finds, which include pottery, pieces of jewellery, a triangular bone comb that was probably made in the 5th century, and a rare gilded horse harness.
Thomas adds, “The horse harness decoration is very significant. It’s not just a wonderful find, but evidence of the status of the people who used this site – the ability to own and upkeep a horse was the mark of the warrior aristocracy.”
The finds are starting to build up a picture of the type of 5th-7th century Saxon society living in Lyminge, and how that changed with coming of Christianity to these people. Thomas believes that the hall may have been destroyed by fire and the site itself was soon after abandoned with the Saxons reestablishing themselves nearby in a new village. This new settlement included a church that is believed to have been founded in AD633 and to be the original burial place of St Ethelburga.
This year’s research also included a large number of worked flint that shows that people were living in Lyminge in the Mesolithic era, which stretched from 10,000-5000 BC.
Dr Thomas and the team from the University of Reading have been doing archaeological research at Lyminge since 2008. In 2010 they found a plough dating from the seventh century. Thanks to an AHRC grant of over £500,000, the work can continue for a further three years.
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