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Medieval abbey’s tunnel discovered by community-based organization



Daniel Esparza - published on 09/15/22

The tunnel, once part of Hyde Abbey, might have been the monastery’s main water supply.

Hyde Abbey, just outside the medieval walls of Westchester, was built in the late 9th century by Benedictine monks, during the reign of Edward the Elder. The medieval abbey was once home to the remains of Edward and those of his parents, Alfred the Great and Queen Ealswitha. But as it was dissolved and demolished in 1538 (only its gatehouse and the church were spared), after King Henry VIII ordered the dissolution and expropriation of monasteries and abbeys, these remains were lost.

For these reasons, much archaeological research has taken place here in recent years. Now, after a community dig (in which more than 140 diggers participated, according to Medievalists,) a tunnel that was once part of this abbey was rediscovered. The dig was organized by Hyde900, a community project that aims to preserve the remains of the abbey and its history.

In previous excavations, the remains of a two-storey building were discovered, alongside a third garden that might have supplied the monks’ refectory. This year, the diggers uncovered a tunnel, which was likely to have been the main water supply to this refectory, but also to the kitchens, the infirmary, and the sewers serving the monks’ dormitories.

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