Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Life before the Minster: the Social Dynamics of Monastic Foundation at Anglo-Saxon Lyminge, Kent

  • Gabor Thomas (a1)
Abstract

Anglo-Saxon monastic archaeology has been constrained by the limited scale of past investigations and their overriding emphasis on core buildings. This paper draws upon the results of an ongoing campaign of archaeological research that is redressing the balance through an ambitious programme of open-area excavation at Lyminge, Kent, the site of a royal double monastery founded in the seventh century ad. The results of five completed fieldwork seasons are assessed and contextualised in a narrative sequence emphasising the dynamic character of Lyminge as an Anglo-Saxon monastic settlement. In so doing, the study brings into sharp focus how early medieval monasteries were emplaced in the landscape, with specific reference to Anglo-Saxon Kent, a regional context offering key insights into how the process of monastic foundation redefined antecedent central places of long-standing politico-religious significance and social action.

L'archéologie monastique anglo-saxonne a été entravée par l'ampleur limitée des recherches passées et par l'importance prépondérante qu'elles ont accordée aux bâtiments principaux. Dans cet article, l'auteur s'appuie sur les résultats d'une campagne de recherche archéologique en cours qui tente de rétablir l'équilibre au moyen d'un programme ambitieux de fouilles en aire ouverte mené à Lyminge, dans le Kent, site d'un double monastère royal fondé au VIIe siècle. Les résultats de cinq saisons complètes de travail sur le terrain sont évalués et contextualisés sous la forme d'une séquence narrative qui souligne le dynamisme de Lyminge en tant que colonie monastique anglo-saxonne. Ce faisant, l'étude montre clairement comment les premiers monastères médiévaux étaient implantés dans le paysage en faisant spécifiquement référence au Kent anglo-saxon, un contexte régional qui offre des aperçus importants sur la manière dont le processus de fondation des monastères a redéfini des lieux centraux antérieurs à l'importance politico-religieuse et à l'action sociale anciennes.

Die angelsächsische monastische Archäologie war durch das geringe Ausmaβ früherer Untersuchungen und deren bevorzugtem Schwerpunkt auf bedeutende Gebäude eingeschränkt. Diese Abhandlung stützt sich auf die Ergebnisse einer laufenden Kampagne archäologischer Forschungen, die nunmehr über ein ambitioniertes Programm freiflächiger Ausgrabungen in Lyminge, Kent, einem im siebten Jahrhundert gegründeten Doppelkloster, das Gleichgewicht wiederherstellen. Die Ergebnisse fünf abgeschlossener Feldforschungssaisonen werden bewertet und in narrativer Abfolge kontextualisiert, mit besonderem Augenmerk auf den dynamischen Charakter von Lyminge als eine angelsächsische monastische Siedlung. Dabei richtet die Studie die Aufmerksamkeit ganz besonders darauf, wie die frühmittelalterlichen Klöster, mit spezifischem Bezug auf das angelsächsische Kent, in die Landschaft gesetzt wurden, wobei der regionale Kontext wichtige Einblicke dazu vermittelt, wie durch den Prozess monastischer Gründungen einstmals zentrale Stätten langjähriger politisch-religiöser Bedeutung und sozialen Aktivitäten neu definiertwurden.

Copyright
References
Hide All
Baker, P 2012. ‘Assessment of the animal bone assemblage from the 2009 and 2010 excavations at Lyminge, Kent’, unpublished report, 〈http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/archaeology/AnimalBoneAssessment-Baker2012.pdf〉 (4 Dec 2012)
Barrett, J H, Locker, A MRoberts, C M 2004. ‘ “Dark Age” economics revisited: the English fish bone evidence ad 600–1600’, Antiquity, 78, 618636
Behr, C 2000. ‘The origins of kingship in early medieval Kent’, Early Medieval Europe, 9, 2552
Blair, J 1992. ‘Anglo-Saxon minsters: a topographic review’, in Pastoral Care Before the Parish (eds J Blair and R Sharpe), 226266, Leicester University Press
Blair, J 2005. The Church in Anglo-Saxon Society, Oxford University Press
Blair, J 2011. ‘Overview: the archaeology of religion’, in Hamerow et al 2011, 727–41
Blair, JPickles, T 2010. ‘Bishopstone and Deantone: the estate and the church under the Mercian kings and the South Saxon bishops’, in Thomas 2010a, 17–22
Bond, J 2004. Monastic Landscapes, Stroud: Tempus
Broadley, R 2011. ‘Lyminge glass: assessment report’, unpublished report, 〈http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/archaeology/Anglo-Saxon_glass_assessment_report._Broadley_2011.pdf〉 (4 Dec 2012)
Brookes, S 2007. ‘Walking with Anglo-Saxons: landscapes of the dead in early Anglo-Saxon Kent’, in Semple 2007, 143–53
Brookes, S 2011. ‘The lathes of Kent: a review of the evidence’, in Studies in Early Anglo-Saxon Art and Archaeology: papers in honour of Martin G Welch (eds S Brookes, S Harrington and A Reynolds), 156170, BAR Brit Ser 527, Oxford: Archaeopress
Brooks, N 1988. ‘Romney Marsh in the early Middle Ages’, in Romney Marsh: evolution, occupation, reclamation (eds J Eddison and C Green), 90104, Oxford Univ Comm Archaeol Monogr 24, Oxford
Brooks, N 1989. ‘The creation and early structure of the kingdom of Kent’, in The Origins of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms (ed S Bassett), 5574, Leicester University Press
Brooks, N 1996. The Early History of the Church of Canterbury, Leicester University Press
Brown, P 1996. The Rise of Western Christendom: triumph and diversity ad 200–1000, Oxford: Blackwell
Cambridge, E 1999. ‘The architecture of the Augustinian mission’, in Gameson 1999, 202–36
Campbell, G 2012. ‘Assessment of charred and mineral-replaced macroscopic plant remains from excavation at Lyminge, Kent, 2008–10’, unpublished report, 〈http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/archaeology/Campbell2012-palaeobotanical_assessment.pdf〉 (4 Dec 2012)
Campbell, G, Moffett, LStraker, V 2011. Environmental Archaeology: a guide to the theory and practice of methods from sampling and recovery to post-excavation, 2nd edn, London: English Heritage
Carr, R D, Tester, AMurphy, P 1988. ‘The Middle-Saxon settlement at Staunch Meadow, Brandon’, Antiquity, 62, 371377
Carver, M 2009. ‘Early Scottish monasteries and prehistory: a preliminary dialogue’, Scott Hist Rev, 88, 332351
Crabtree, P J 2010. ‘Agricultural innovation and socio-economic change in early medieval Europe: evidence from Britain and France’, World Archaeol, 42 (1), 122136
Cramp, R 2005. Wearmouth and Jarrow Monastic Sites. Vol 1, London: English Heritage
Daniels, R 2007. Anglo-Saxon Hartlepool and the Foundations of English Christianity: an archaeology of the Anglo-Saxon monastery, Hartlepool: Tees Archaeology
De Jong, MTheuws, F 2001. Topographies of Power in the Early Middle Ages, Leiden: Brill
Devlin, Z 2007. Remembering the Dead in Anglo-Saxon England, BAR Brit Ser 446, Oxford: Archaeopress
Dickinson, T M, Fern, CHall, M 2006. ‘An early Anglo-Saxon bridle-fitting from South Leckaway, Forfar, Angus, Scotland’, Medieval Archaeol, 50, 249260
Dickinson, T M, Fern, CRichardson, A 2011. ‘Early Anglo-Saxon Eastry: archaeological evidence for the beginnings of a district centre in the kingdom of Kent’, Anglo-Saxon Stud Archaeol Hist, 17, 186
Dobney, KJacques, D 2002. ‘Avian signatures for identity and status in Anglo-Saxon England’, Acta Zoologica Cracoviensia, 45, 721
Dobney, K, Jacques, D, Barrett, JJohnstone, C 2007. Farmers, Monks and Aristocrats: the environmental archaeology of Anglo-Saxon Flixborough, Excavations at Flixborough 3, Oxford: Oxbow
Electronic Sawyerhttp://www.esawyer.org.uk〉 (25 Mar 2013). Online version of Peter Sawyer's Anglo-Saxon Charters: an annotated list and bibliography (1968), revised, updated and expanded by S Kelly, London: Royal Historical Society
Ervynck, A 1997. ‘Following the rule? Fish and meat consumption in monastic communities in Flanders (Belgium)’, in Environment and Subsistence in Medieval Europe (eds G de Boe and F Verhaeghe), 6781, IAP Rapporten 9, Zellik: Instituut voor het Archaeologisch Patrimonium
Everitt, A 1988. Continuity and Colonization: the evolution of Kentish settlement, Leicester University Press
Evison, V 2008. A Catalogue of Anglo-Saxon Glass in the British Museum, Brit Mus Res Publ 167, London: British Museum
Fern, C 2007. ‘Early Anglo-Saxon horse burial of the fifth to seventh century ad’, in Semple 2007, 92–109
Foot, S 2000. Veiled Women: the disappearance of nuns from Anglo-Saxon England, Manchester University Press
Foot, S 2006. Monastic Life in Anglo-Saxon England c 600–900, Cambridge University Press
Gameson, R 1999. St Augustine and the Conversion of England, Stroud: Sutton
Gardiner, M, Cross, R, Macpherson-Grant, NRiddler, I 2001. ‘Continental trade and non-urban ports in mid-Anglo-Saxon England: excavations at Sandtun, West Hythe, Kent’, Archaeol J, 158, 161290
Gilchrist, R 1994. Gender and Material Culture: the archaeology of religious women, London: Routledge
Gilchrist, RMytum, H 1989. The Archaeology of Rural Monasteries, BAR Brit Ser 203, Oxford: British Archaeological Reports
Gittos, H 2011. ‘Christian sacred spaces and places’, in Hamerow et al 2011, 824–44
Hall, RWhyman, M 1996. ‘Settlement and monasticism at Ripon, North Yorkshire, from the seventh to eleventh centuries ad, Medieval Archaeol, 40, 62150
Hamerow, H 2006. ‘Special deposits in Anglo-Saxon settlements’, Medieval Archaeol, 50, 130
Hamerow, H 2012. Rural Settlements and Society in Anglo-Saxon England, Oxford University Press
Hamerow, H, Hayden, CHey, G 2007. ‘Anglo-Saxon and earlier settlement near Drayton Road, Sutton Courtenay, Berkshire’, Archaeol J, 164, 109196
Hamerow, H, Hinton, D ACrawford, S 2011. The Oxford Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Archaeology, Oxford University Press
Hamilton-Dyer, S 2001. ‘Bird and fish remains’, in Gardiner et al 2001, 255–61
Hicks, MBennett, P 1994. ‘Christ Church College’, in Canterbury's Archaeology 1993–4, 14, Canterbury Archaeological Trust
Hinton, D A 2005. Gold and Gilt, Pots and Pins: possessions and people in medieval Britain, Oxford University Press
Holmes, M 2011. ‘Food, status and provisioning in Saxon and Scandinavian England’, unpublished PhD thesis, University of Leicester
Huntley, JRackham, J 2007. ‘The environmental setting and provisioning of the Anglo-Saxon monastery’, in Daniels 2007, 108–23
James, S, Marshall, AMillett, M 1984. ‘An early medieval building tradition’, Archaeol J, 141, 182–215
Kelly, S 2006. ‘Lyminge minster and its early charters’, in Anglo-Saxons: studies presented to Cyril Hart (eds S Keynes and A P Smyth), 98–113, Dublin: Four Courts Press
Kerr, T, Doyle, M, Seaver, M, McCormick, FO'Sullivan, A 2012. Industrial Activity on Rural Secular Sites in Ireland, ad 400–1100, Early Medieval Archaeology Project (EMAP) Report 6.1, University College Dublin, 〈http://www.emap.ie/documents/EMAP2012_EarIyMed_Industry_on_Rural_Sites.pdf〉 (13 May 2013)
Keys, L 2011. ‘Assessment of iron slag and related high temperature debris from sites in Lyminge, Kent’, unpublished report, 〈http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/archaeology/Iron_slag_assessment_report._Keys_2011.pdf〉 (4 Dec 2012)
Lebecq, S 2000. ‘The role of the monasteries in the systems of production and exchange of the Frankish world between the seventh and the beginning of the ninth centuries’, in The Long Eighth Century: production, distribution and demand (eds I L Hansen and C Wickham), 121148, Leiden: Brill
Loveluck, C P 2001. ‘Wealth, waste and conspicuous consumption: Flixborough and its importance for middle and late Saxon rural settlement studies’, in Image and Power in the Archaeology of Early Medieval Britain: essays in honour of Rosemary Cramp (eds H Hamerow and A MacGregor), 78130, Oxford: Oxbow
Loveluck, C P 2005. ‘Rural settlement hierarchy in the age of Charlemagne’, in Charlemagne: empire and society (ed J Story), 230258, Manchester University Press
Loveluck, C P 2007a. Rural Settlement, Lifestyles and Social Change in the Late First Millennium ad: Anglo-Saxon Flixborough in its wider context, Excavations at Flixborough 4, Oxford: Oxbow
Loveluck, C P 2007b. ‘Anglo-Saxon Hartlepool and the foundations of English Christian identity: the wider context and importance of the monastery’, in Daniels 2007, 186–208
Loveluck, C P 2009. ‘The dynamics of elite lifestyles in the rural world, ad 600–1150: archaeological perspectives from northwest Europe’, in La Culture du haut Moyen Âge, Une Question d’Élites? (eds F Bougard, R Le Jan and R McKitterick), 139170, Haut Moyen Âge 7, Turnhout: Brepols
Lowe, C 2006. Excavations at Hoddom, Dumfriesshire, Edinburgh: Society of the Antiquaries of Scotland
Lucy, S, Tipper, JDickens, A 2009. The Anglo-Saxon Settlement and Cemetery at Bloodmoor Hill, Carlton Colville, Suffolk, E Anglian Archaeol Rep 131, Cambridge Archaeological Unit
Maslin, S 2012. ‘The taphonomy and micromorphology of sunken featured building fills from Lyminge, Kent; a comparative mixed-method analysis’, unpublished MSc thesis, University of Reading
Morris, C 1989. Churches in the Landscape, London: Dent
Morris, C 2008. Journeys from Jarrow, Jarrow Lecture 2004, Jarrow: St Paul's Church
Murray, E, McCormick, FPlunkett, G 2004. ‘The food economies of Atlantic island monasteries: the documentary and archaeo-environmental evidence’, Envir Archaeol, 9, 179188
O'Sullivan, A, McKormick, F, Harney, L, Kinsella, JKerr, T 2010. Early Medieval Settlements in Ireland, ad 400–1100. Vol 1: Text, Early Medieval Archaeology Project (EMAP) Report 4.2, University College Dublin, 〈http://www.ucd.ie/archaeology/documentstore/allreports/emap_report_4.2vol1_print.pdf〉 (13 May 2013)
Ottaway, P 2012. ‘Assessment of ironwork from the excavations 2007–2010’, unpublished report, 〈http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/archaeology/Ottaway2012-ironwork_assessment.pdf〉 (4 Dec 2012)
Percival, J 1997. ‘Villas and monasteries in Late Roman Gaul’, J Eccles Hist, 48 (1), 121
Pestell, T 2004. Landscapes of Monastic Foundation, Woodbridge: Boydell
Philp, B 2003. The Discovery and Excavation of Anglo-Saxon Dover, Kent Monogr Ser 9, Dover: Kent Archaeological Rescue Unit
Pickles, T 2011. ‘Anglo-Saxon monasteries as sacred places: topography, exegesis and vocation’, in Sacred Text – Sacred Space (eds P Thomas and J Sterrett), 3555, Leiden: Brill
Rahtz, P 1973. ‘Monasteries as settlements’, Scott Archaeol Forum, 5, 125135
Reynolds, A 2003. ‘Boundaries and settlements in later sixth- to eleventh-century England’, in Boundaries in Early Medieval Britain (eds D Griffiths, A Reynolds and S Semple), 98139, Anglo-Saxon Studies in Archaeology and History 12, Oxford University School of Archaeology
Reynolds, R 2010. ‘Fish remains’, in Thomas 2010a, 157–63
Reynolds, R 2011. ‘Anglo-Saxon fish remains Lyminge, Kent’, unpublished report, 〈http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/archaeology/LymingeReynolds2011.pdf〉 (4 Dec 2012)
Reynolds, R 2013. ‘Lyminge 2010: analysis of fish remains from environmental samples’, unpublished report, 〈http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/archaeology/Reynolds_2013_-_fish_from_2010_environmental_samples.pdf〉 (9 Apr 2013)
Richardson, A F 2005. The Anglo-Saxon Cemeteries of Kent, 2 vols, BAR Brit Ser 391, Oxford: Archaeopress
Rigold, S E 1968. ‘The “double minsters” of Kent and their analogies’, J Brit Archaeol Ass, 3rd ser, 31, 2737
Rollason, D W 1982. The Mildreth Legend, Leicester University Press
Scull, C 1991. ‘Post-Roman phase I at Yeavering: a re-consideration’, Medieval Archaeol, 35, 5163
Scull, C 2011. ‘Assessment of material culture assemblages (copper-alloy, bone/antler and vessel glass) from SFBs 1, 2 and 3’, unpublished report, 〈http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/archaeology/Scull_2011_-_2010_small_finds.pdf〉 (4 Dec 2012)
Semple, S (ed) 2007. Early Medieval Mortuary Practices, Anglo-Saxon Stud Archaeol Hist 14, Oxford University School of Archaeology
Serjeantson, DWoolgar, C M 2006. ‘Fish consumption in medieval England, in Food in Medieval England: diet and nutrition (eds C M Woolgar, D Serjeantson and T Waldron), 102130, Oxford University Press
Sykes, N J 2007. The Norman Conquest: a zooarchaeological perspective, BAR Int Ser 1656, Oxford: Archaeopress
Tatton-Brown, T 1988. ‘The churches of Canterbury diocese in the eleventh century’, in Minsters and Parish Churches: the local church in transition 950–1200 (ed J Blair), 105118, Oxford Comm Archaeol Monogr 18, Oxford
Thomas, G 2010a. The Later Anglo-Saxon Settlement at Bishopstone: a downland manor in the making, CBA Res Rep 163, York: Council for British Archaeology
Thomas, G 2010b. ‘Bringing a lost Anglo-Saxon monastery to life’, Medieval Archaeol, 54, 409414
Thomas, G 2011. ‘The big dig: Bishopstone and Lyminge’, British Archaeology, 119, 4248
Thomas, G 2012. ‘The prehistory of medieval farms and villages’, in Medieval Rural Settlement: Britain and Ireland ad 800–1600 (eds N Christie and P Stamper), 4362, Macclesfield: Windgather
Thomas, GKnox, A 2012. ‘A window on Christianisation: transformation at Anglo-Saxon Lyminge, Kent, England’, Antiquity, 86 (334), Project Gallery, 〈http://www.antiquity.ac.uk/projgall/thomas334/〉 (28 Mar 2013)
Tipper, J 2004. The Grubenhaus in Anglo-Saxon England, Yedingham: Landscape Research Centre
Ulmschneider, K 2011. ‘Settlement hierarchy’, in Hamerow et al 2011, 156–71
Wallenberg, J K 1934. The Place-names of Kent, Uppsala: Appelbergs Boktryckeriaktiebolag
Welch, M 2007. ‘Anglo-Saxon Kent to ad 800’, in The Archaeology of Kent to ad 800 (ed J H Williams), 187250, Woodbridge: Boydell
Williams, H 2002. ‘Cemeteries as central places: landscape and identity in early Anglo-Saxon England’, in Central Places in the Migration and Merovingian Periods (eds B Hardh and L Larsson), 341362, Papers from the 52nd Sachsensymposium, Lund: Almqvist
Williams, H 2006. Death and Memory in Early Medieval Britain, Cambridge University Press
Witney, K P 1976. Jutish Forest: a study of the Weald of Kent from 450 ad to 1380 ad, London: Athlone
Yorke, B 1999. ‘The reception of Christianity at the Anglo-Saxon royal courts’, in Gameson 1999, 152–73
Yorke, B 2003. Nunneries and the Anglo-Saxon Royal Houses, London: Continuum
Yorke, B 2006. The Conversion of Britain 600–800, Harlow: Pearson Longman
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The Antiquaries Journal
  • ISSN: 0003-5815
  • EISSN: 1758-5309
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquaries-journal
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed