Remains of the old church discovered
THE remains of an old church dating from before the end of the 12th century were found at the Saint-Jean-Baptiste church.
Archaeological research carried out at the church, located on Church Street, in March and May of this year uncovered the remains of the ancient church which was described in the 1120s by the 12th-century English historian, William of Malmesbury.
The date of construction of the old stone church remains undetermined, but it is hoped that further tests can reveal when it was built.
Reverend Colin Alsbury reports: âWith funding from the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage, we were able to ask Context One Heritage & Archeology to investigate the areas under the wooden flooring at the west end of St John the Baptist in March.
“This work was undertaken as part of a feasibility study for the potential replacement of part of the wooden parquet with new stone flooring in accordance with the ideas suggested by the Diocesan Advisory Committee in relation to our reorganization of the area. reception at the west end of the church.
âTest pits have been opened on either side of the Nave in the second bay of the West End. As expected, evidence of burials in the church has been found – no graves have been disturbed and all disarticulated remains encountered have been re-buried.
âTests by a structural engineer revealed that the ground was quite soft with a propensity to be unstable on the north side, although a little firmer on the south side. Discussions with our church architect and others resulted in the opinion that any future replacement of wood flooring with stone should be done through the installation of a load-bearing beam structure rather than be supported by the potentially unstable earthen ground.
âAnother pair of test pits were opened near the center of the nave, near the line where the late 12th century building would have ended. Large crypts with brick walls and capped with stones were discovered in the middle of the nave. Evidence of foundations stolen in this area and some remains of stone walls along with evidence of instability in the west end allowed for an extension of investigative permits and Context One returned in May to carry out further funded work. by the St John’s Restoration Fund.
âArchaeological research has uncovered the west wall and the long side walls of a building predating the church at the end of the 12th century. A significant linear disturbance immediately west of this line suggests where the west end wall of the late 12th century church was removed when the church was extended to its present size in the early 19th century. Fifteenth century.
“A wall angle on the south side of the Nave and the associated cropped foundations on the north side indicate the presence of a stone building exceeding 10 meters in length with an interior width of 4 meters, and with a slightly lower interior floor level. to that of the later medieval church.
âThis earlier building was on the site before the late 12th century reconstruction work carried out under the direction of Abbot of Cirencester, then rector.
“These remains correspond to those described by William of Malmesbury at the beginning of the 12th century when he wrote of a stone church on the site larger than that of Bradford on Avon:” Stat ibi adhuc et vicit diuturnitate sua tot secula “- ‘He stands there, still surviving the centuries’ [Anglia Sacra vol 2 pp7-8].
“For now, the date of construction of this stone church remains undetermined, but it is hoped that some samples pending radiocarbon dating may provide scientific evidence relating to its lifespan.”