Ancient abbey dig set to resume at Leiston


Archaeologists are hoping to unearth more hidden secrets when they return to Leiston Abbey in search of a lost infirmary this July.

Ancient abbey dig set to resume at Leiston
Aerial view of Leiston Abbey, showing a cropmark in the field adjacent to the ruin, 
believed to be the lost eastern range of abbey buildings, perhaps even the infirmary. 
This summer s investigations will look more closely at this area 
[Credit: East Anglian Daily Times]

It will be the third time DigVentures has led a crowdfunded dig at the 14th century ruin – with members of the public again invited to grab a trowel and get involved.

Gossip got out after the first excavation that the bones of Suffolk folklore monster Black Shuck had been found in the trenches. The huge carcass turned out to be the remains of a very large domestic dog, but the discovery caused no less excitement among experts from DigVentures, who have seen the dig gain in popularity since it began in 2013.

Project director, Brendon Wilkins said: “We were blown away by the number of people who came forward to help make this happen. From Suffolk to India, people have supported this project from all over the world. With their help we’ve already made some tremendous discoveries.”

Items have so far included a ‘papal bulla’ used to seal a message from the Vatican at the time of the plague, an earspoon probably used to remove earwax, and the kitchen waste pile – containing vital evidence of what the monks used to cook, what they ate, and how widely they traded.

The team also found several Nuremberg jetons – a sort of informal currency minted in Germany but widely used in the area – as well as the remains of huge ditches running through one of the fields, prehistoric flint tools and signs of a previously unknown Bronze Age settlement.

This year’s project, which will be recorded on film, aims to understand more about medieval monastic medicine by locating the lost infirmary building. It will also measure the impact of burrowing rabbits on the abbey’s foundations over the years.

Lisa Westcott Wilkins, DigVentures managing director, said: “We’re also changing the way archaeology is done. We’ll be using the Digital Dig Team app we developed last year with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. This app makes it possible for us to upload every discovery on iPads so that it’s available to see online as soon as it comes out of the trench”

The dig takes place from July 13-26. Free daily site tours and evening lectures are open to all. Crowdfunding supporters can join the team in the trenches.

For more information visit the DigVentures website.

Author: Tom Potter | Source: East Anglian Daily Times [April 08, 2015]