The exact location of the Anglo-Saxon monastery on Lindisfarne has remained a mystery ever since it was destroyed by the Vikings. That is, until now…
We’ve kept you hanging for a week, but now we can FINALLY reveal one of our star finds that strongly suggests that we’ve found what we’ve been looking for!
Trench 2 in Sanctuary Close has been turning up some very curious finds. Mid-way through week one we started to find fragments of human bone scattered amongst the rubble, and as the week progressed, more and more started to appear – some potentially still part of in situ burials.
On Sunday morning things started to get a whole lot more exciting. Venturer John, clearing rubble from the eastern edge of the trench, pulled a stone from the ground that had our expert David Petts literally jumping with joy!
Incredibly, he had found a fragment of an Anglo-Saxon burial marker, commonly known as a Name Stone. Dating to the mid 7th to 8th century, it places it firmly in the period of Lindisfarne’s first monastery.
The stone is typical of a small group of markers found exclusively on Lindisfarne, with a very small amount of similar types found near Hartlepool. What’s more exciting is that only 13 of these have been found previously on the island, making our find especially important.
Intricately carved with parts of a cross and an inscription, the cross terminals end in small simple circles with a very elegant ‘B’ and possible ‘A’ clearly visible on either side of the top arm of the cross. Below these a name that looks to end in ‘FRITH’, a common element of Anglo-Saxon names, has been carved. The sunken central cavity between the cross-arms might possibly have held a relic or a jewel.
In its complete form it would have been more or less oblong in shape, standing a foot or so above the ground.
The stone’s presence amongst the rubble structures and human burials strongly suggests that we’ve found part of the monastic complex we’ve been looking for! Amazingly, a few days later ANOTHER fragmented grave marker was also found, this time carved with two small crosslets flanking the shaft of a larger central cross.
The excitement on site for the past week has been tremendous. These two small stones represent the best tangible evidence to date for the location of the earlyMedieval monastery, making their discovery one of huge importance.
We couldn’t have asked for anything better!