Time Team Day 17 - The Abbey Habit
Thirty-One Days of Time Team continues with an Abbey that was not there.
The Time Team travels to the Welsh border in search of an abbey. This abbey was occupied by Cistercian monks. It has been lost for centuries. Local archeologists have found evidence of a chapel, but no abbey. There are large earthworks on the site that the locals believe is the abbey. Will the Time Team have more success in finding the abbey?
The local archeologists have found a small chapel on the site that is too small to be an abbey chapel. There is no date on the building and the locals have continued to excavate the fields. Mick is in his element with this dig because he loves all things with monasteries. Mick and Tony talk about the potential of discovering a lost Cistercian Abbey.
The Time Team knows the abbey is not on the chapel site but can be further up the field. There is a 1650s map that shows a stately home on the site. The stately home could have been converted from the old abbey. An earlier dig showed that there was a fine spiral staircase on the site. Tony questions Mick about the potential. Mick sees the cloistral plan in the map, however, architectural archeologists casts doubt on that potential. The field will have to be geophysics.
The first trench will be opened up on the staircase site. Additionally, the Time Team will be looking as to why the chapel was built on the site? Helen Geake makes her way to the chapel site and looks to learn more about the chapel. The Chapel has undergone many renovations. Alan Wilmhurst, who has been excavating the chapel has learned a few of its secrets and was able to walk Helen through the changes the chapel underwent. The Time Team will focus on the nave to discover evidence as to when the chapel was first built.
Matt in the first trench will look for the staircase. There seems to be a lot of backfill on the trench. The abbey was only occupied for sixty years. Its life span was short and it could be an early abbey that was unaltered over the years. Would there be any substantial remains to be found on the site? Helen then catches up with historian lan Thacker and the Earl of Chester’s role in the abbey history. The Earl of Chester lured the monks away to his estate in Leek. He was trying to guarantee his passport into heaven. Matt continues to look for the staircase. A second trench is put in on a potential wall of the abbey.
Stewart and Mick walk the site and do a survey using old-school methods. Phil joins up with the pair and a survey is done. In the chapel site, the Time Team is discovering plenty of skeletons. This is preventing the chapel site from being dated.
The next day, the Time Team will be digging in two countries at once, a first time for the Time Team. The dig continues and Tony catches up with the dig site. He is flummoxed at the relationship between the two sites. What will the Time Team discover about the site? Will they discover an earlier period of the abbey? What will the field tell the Time Team about the Abbey? Are they really on an abbey site? Tune into the rest of this episode to find out more!
This is a story full of twists and turns. Was the Time Team really excavating an abbey? This episode would be good to show for a fun day and could generate a good discussion on what happens when archeology shows something different.
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