Anglo-Saxon discoveries made by archaeologists on Holy Island

Anglo-Saxon finds have been uncovered by archaeologists during their latest dig on Holy Island.

Wednesday, 2nd October 2019, 2:18 pm
Updated Wednesday, 9th October 2019, 3:23 pm
Archaeologists on Holy Island.

A team from Durham University and DigVentures were on Lindisfarne last month for their fourth season of archaeological excavation in Sanctuary Close.

Writing in the Island newsletter, Dr David Petts, from the Department of Archaeology at Durham University, revealed: “The area we are exploring partly comprised a cemetery associated with the early medieval monastery.

“We also discovered three more fragments of carved name stones - small grave markers of roughly 8th century date. This brings to seven the number of name stone element we have found since we started. All of the stones carried fragments of Anglo-Saxon names and we hope to decipher these over the winter.

“We also made a series of other interesting finds including increasing numbers of Anglo-Saxon coins, some minted in Northumbria, but others from southern England - a nice reminder of how important monastic sites were as places of trade and exchange.

“Elsewhere on site we continued to work our way through a layer of animal bones and seashells, probably all that remains of an early medieval midden. It may not be glamorous, but it should tell us lots about the diet of the early monks.

“We also continued to unpick our early medieval building, which has been badly damaged by having later burials inserted through it. However, if we can get radiocarbon dates from these later burials it should help us tie down the date of the building more precisely.

“Some of the most exciting discoveries came in the final day or so, as we realised the building itself seems to have been placed over a substantial industrial feature, and we started to collect increasing quantities of industrial residues, perhaps from the working of copper alloy or maybe even glass.

Arrow-shaped buckle or stud.

“Over the winter, the finds will come to Durham for analysis, and in the future we will ensure that all human remains are interred back in the churchyard, and that as many of the objects as possible will be placed on display in venues on the island. We will also come back in the new year to give a public lecture about what we have discovered.”

A mystery key found during the recent dig on Holy Island.
Archaeological dig on Lindisfarne.
A runic namestone.
An Anglo-Saxon coin.