Public meeting to introduce Saxon monastery dig

1:33pm Monday 8th July 2013

By William Tomaney

KIDDERMINSTER residents are being invited to hear more about the community dig taking place to find the town’s missing Saxon monastery.

The public meeting, hosted by Historic Kidderminster Project, will take place on Friday, July 12, at 7.30pm at St Mary’s Church chantry.

Speakers, Rev Owain Bell, project leader Nigel Gilbert and Justin Hughes from Worcestershire Archaeology will talk about the dig, which will begin on Tuesday, August 27.

Mr Gilbert said: “We hope many prospective volunteers will attend and the meeting will give us all a chance to get to know each other.”

The dig is the next stage in the search for the Saxon monastery which gave the town the “minster” part of its name. It is funded with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund of nearly £50,000 and is known as a “community dig”.

“This means the involvement of the community and the giving of training in basic archaeology are just as important as the dig itself,” explained Mr Gilbert.

“Together with archaeologists from Worcester, we hope to establish the nature of the buried structure apparently shown by the geophysical survey in 2006.”

That survey found evidence of a building several feet underground a few yards from the northside of the church. A Saxon deed from the year 736 refers to a monastery built in the area but it has never been found.

More than 50 volunteers are already signed up to the project with many more names still being processed. More than 125 people have applied to help with the dig.

The project will run for four weeks, taking place from Tuesday to Saturday each week. During the first week, 20 volunteers will be needed each day, with 15 daily helpers required after that - at the moment people are being signed up for three days each.

Mr Gilbert also revealed resident academic for Channel 4’s Time Team, Professor Mick Aston, who died in June, age 66, had expressed interest in Kidderminster’s Saxon monastery mystery and wanted to meet with the project’s team.

“Sadly this will never now happen,” added Mr Gilbert.

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