Sacred Sunday: Medieval Christian Church Unearthed

The stone foundations of a pre-conquest Christian church along with several artefacts, which may date back to the Bronze Age, were found on the site of a new extra care scheme in Leyburn, North Yorkshire, England.

The stone foundations of a pre-conquest Christian church along with several artifacts, which may date back to the Bronze Age, were found on the site of a new extra care scheme in Leyburn, North Yorkshire, England.

A team of scientists unearthed two other small structures, which predate the church and most likely from the Bronze Age (2600-700BC) and Iron Age (700BC-100AD).

Foundations of a Christian church built before the Norman Conquest of 1066 have been unearthed in North Yorkshire by a team from On-Site Archaeology. The remains of a young man and an older woman were also found. They had been buried in crouching positions and are thought to have been Christian burials, due to the east-west alignment of the bodies. Projects officer Graham Bruce thinks the site may have been a family chapel dating back to Saxon or early Norman times.

Projects officer Graham Bruce said: “The site is probably a family chapel possibly dating back to Saxon or early Norman times, as it is a clean area with relatively little waste. There is probably a rubbish dump nearby.

Interestingly, the Doomsday Book mentions two manors in Leyburn and this may relate to the abandoned settlement. The scientists’ work also unearthed two other small structures which pre-date the church.

A number of the discoveries found on the site of a new extra care scheme in Leyburn.

A number of the discoveries found on the site of a new extra care scheme in Leyburn.

It is possible they are bronze age and iron age dwellings.Finds relating to these periods include animal bones, flint tools, and pottery shards. Evidence of medieval farming was also discovered above the church foundations. Archaeological work has now finished on the site, although the team are still examining the finds.

Mr Bruce added: “All the items we have gathered will be offered to Broadacres, the site’s owners. The two bodies may be reburied somewhere on the site, as that it where they were buried originally. At some stage we will produce a report on the dig and our later work which will be available to the public.”

Local primary school children have been given a VIP tour of the archaeological dig.

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