The remains of a medieval church, which was once part of Rufford Abbey in Northamptonshire, England, have been uncovered after a two-week dig. The church had been destroyed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century.
Archaeologists from Nottinghamshire County Council and a team of local volunteers excavated an area of land at Rufford Country Park, adjacent to the last existing ruins of the 12th century Rufford Abbey. The church, which dates back to 1160, was part of a number of buildings which made up the original abbey, built by monks from Rievaulx Abbey in North Yorkshire and home to the Cistercian Order.
The excavation work is helping archaeologists piece together the layout of the Abbey’s buildings, which is different to what was originally thought. Artifacts uncovered during the dig including a piece of Tudor pottery and two teeth, which are thought to belong a monk buried there and confirming that burials took place in the grounds of the church.
Nottinghamshire County Council’s Community Archaeologist, Emily Gillott, who has led the project, said: “Uncovering the remains of the original church is momentous and will help us to better understand how the site was laid-out and how and when the original Abbey buildings have been developed over the years.
“The Abbey’s role in the Reformation, one of the most controversial and important periods in the country’s history, provides added significance to this work.
“We are extremely grateful for the contributions of the team at Rufford for facilitating this project and especially to the many volunteers, without which this work would not have been possible.”
Councillor John Knight, Chairman of Culture Committee at Nottinghamshire County Council, added: “English Heritage describe the visible remains of the Abbey as being the best preserved remains of a Cistercian abbey cloister in England, but what you see today is only a fraction of what was originally there.
“Rufford is already one of the region’s most visited tourist attractions. Visitors are taken aback by the wonderful country park setting and spectacular 17th century mansion but this project reminds us that there is much more history, literally beneath our feet.”
Regular updates and photographs of the dig are being posted at the Community archaeology team’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/communityarchaeology