Missenden Abbey excavation
Date: 7th Jun 2016
Bucks New University's Missenden Abbey Conference Centre is set to be the focus of an interesting community project which will see the completion and digitisation of original records made during an excavation of the Abbey site 30 years ago, when many fascinating medieval and post medieval objects were discovered.
The 12th Century abbey site, based in London Road, Great Missenden, was founded in 1113 and was one of the early monasteries in southern England. It was excavated during the 1980s and among the archaeologists' findings were several complete human skeletons, animal bones, coins, glass and pottery.
Some of the items, such as stained glass, are on display at the Abbey but the majority of the finds and relevant documents were stored at the County Museum Resource Centre in Aylesbury. However museum staff, archaeologists and volunteers have now established the Community Archaeology Project with the primary task being to complete the identification of finds, and to digitise and document all the original excavation plans and records. They are planning to publish the results of this work so that more people can discover the history of the Abbey and how people lived there in medieval times.
The Community Archaeology Project relies on crowd funding and direct donations to generate support for the work, and aims to raise £4,000 through local communities keen to discover the history of the Abbey.
The Abbey now exists as a dedicated conference, wedding and events venue owned by Bucks New University. Katie Shrives, Marketing Executive at Missenden Abbey Conference Centre, said: "It will be fantastic to discover the hidden secrets of the Abbey and to better understand the history of the place. To have the findings recorded and digitised is very important to us and I'm sure what is produced will be something many people would be keen to explore."
The Community Archaeology Project leader, Dr Yvonne Edwards, from the Chess Valley Archaeological & Historical Society (CVAHS), added: " We are delighted with the progress made on this project so far. Most of the finds are now recorded and the plans, maps and photos digitized. We very much hope the final effort during 2015 will allow us to get this valuable information into the public record."
The complete history of Missenden Abbey, including all of the information acquired during excavation and recent researches, will be produced as a fully illustrated book. Members of the public will be able to view and purchase copies of the book from the Museum Resource Centre and the County Museum in Aylesbury, and longer term there are plans for the book to be available online.
To support the Community Archaeology Project, go to www.crowdfunded.microplasts.org/projects/living-and-dying-at-great-missenden-abbey.
Alternatively you can send a donation to Honorary Treasurer, CVAHS Missenden Abbey Project, Hollybank, Botley Road, Chesham HP5 1XG.
First picture - Recording of medieval floor tiles exposed during the excavations.
Second picture - Excavation in the area of the original Abbey church during 1983.
Third picture - One of the human skeletons in a stone coffin uncovered during excavation.
Pictures courtesy of CVAHS and Bucks County Museum Trust.