Town archaeologists go on the hunt for lost monastery
By Martin Paul - Senior Reporter
A BARNARD Castle crowd-funded archaeological group may have discovered the site of a lost 7th century Anglo-Saxon monastery in the Scottish borders.
Volunteers in the town have been sifting through thousands of animal bones that could provide evidence of the location of a monastery founded by Princess Aebbe in about 640AD.
It has been thought that Princess Aebbe, the sister of King Oswald, who founded the monastery at Lindisfarne, established her monastery at St Abb’s Head.
However, archaeological investigation has never found any trace of it there.
Dig Ventures, an archaeological group based in Hall Street, Barnard Castle, completed a two-week dig at Coldingham, in Scotland, and discovered traces of what they think might be the elusive monastery.
The group works by crowd-funding over the internet for their archaeologic work and relies heavily on volunteers to help out.
People from Teesdale were invited to The Hub, on Shaw Bank, to help clean many of the items excavated during the dig. People of all ages are invited to take part and learn more about archaeology during the sessions.
Dig Ventures intern Indie Jago, who led the group of volunteers in their work, said a geophysics study and a previous excavation had sparked interest in Coldingham.
Friends of Coldingham Priory have also long held the view that the monastery is located there.
Ms Jago said: “They [priories] tend to be built at the same site as the 7th century monasteries, like at Lindisfarne.”
She said 41kg of bones excavated from an animal midden deposit had already been cleaned and by the end of the exercise this would be more than doubled.
She added: “We are also looking for pottery, but the Anglo-Saxons were not good at leaving it behind.”
The group plans to work with Manor House care home, also in the town, to get residents involved in the project.
All of the Dig Ventures activities and findings are published on their website digventures.com. Ms Jago said: “We want people to follow the data as it is released. Ideally we want people to invest and get behind it.”