Category Archive 'Stoke Mandeville'

29 Oct 2021

What Else Is Under There?

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The site of the former Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Stoke Mandeville, Buckinghamshire, built in 1080, disused since the 1880s, and demolished in the 1960s, is going to be part of the route of a new High-Speed Railroad Line connecting London, the Midlands, the North and Scotland. But construction was delayed to allow archaeologists to first have a crack at excavating the former church site.

First, they found that the Norman Church had been built on the flint foundations of an earlier Anglo-Saxon Church. BBC 9/21/21 story

And the discoveries keep on coming. Guardian 10/29/21 story

Roman statues of a man, woman and child have been uncovered by archaeologists at an abandoned medieval church on the route of the HS2 high-speed railway.

The discovery was “utterly astounding”, according to Rachel Wood, the lead archaeologist at the site in Stoke Mandeville, Buckinghamshire. “They’re really rare finds in the UK,” she said.

“The statues are exceptionally well preserved, and you really get an impression of the people they depict – literally looking into the faces of the past is a unique experience.”

A hexagonal glass Roman jug was also uncovered. Despite being in the ground for what is thought to be more than 1,000 years, large pieces were intact. The only known comparable item is a vessel on display in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The statues were unearthed at the ruins of a Norman church, where a team of archaeologists has been working for the past six months.

Saint Mary’s church was built in 1080, and renovated in the 13th, 14th and 17th centuries. It was abandoned in 1880, and demolished in 1966 after being declared dangerous. Its ruins became overgrown with vegetation.

In May, archaeologists and engineers began removing the remaining structure of the church and excavating the burial ground that was in use for 900 years, with the last recorded interment in 1908.

Experts believe the location was used as a Roman mausoleum before the Norman church was built. About 3,000 bodies have been removed and will be reburied at a new site.

Wood said the discovery of the statues and jug “leads us to wonder what else might be buried beneath England’s medieval village churches.


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