The Monks of Monks Risborough

March 2014

Dr Jill Eyers – The Monks of Monks Risborough

The U3A welcomed Dr Eyers to our meeting where a packed audience looked forward to learn more about the big dig at St Dunstans.

The was a recognition of the assistance that the community had given, and Jill talked about the challenges associated with a complicated site of 2,400 square metres.

The team started the process by researching the plot by reference to historic documents and maps, as well as high tech geophysics. Linked to the physical work, it was found that St Dunstans was not 14 C as currently described but in fact Norman!

The expectation was that there would be a couple of ditches and low key finds. In reality The finds were much more important.

43 pits

18 ditches

286 different layers

range from Stone Age to 14C with clearly identifiable transitions

The slides gave the meeting an interesting view of the amount of earth that needed to be moved in a very sensitive site and it was interesting to understand the extent of the finds in the first week. These included the two innocent looking piles of stones which provided the clue to the fact that St Dunstans was a Norman church.

It became clear from the talk that uncovering the artifacts was only part of the process and there was a great deal of detective work to identify the dates, understand the activities and map the changes over time.

Dr Eyers held out the prospect of a substantial roman villa in the area and it came as a surprise that the monks did not in fact live in the area.

In fact, one slide detailed the discord that took place during the 14C which seemed a long way from Monks Risborough as it is today!

Geraint James

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