Community support

Funding level: Up to £1,000


Hyde Abbey, located on the outskirts of Winchester, was a monastery of exceptional importance. Apart from being endowed by, and the burial place of, Alfred the Great, the abbey had a major influence on national affairs, having at times a mitred abbot who sat in the House of Lords. Due to its importance the abbey suffered almost total destruction at the Dissolution in 1538.
For the last 2 years Hyde900 has run community digs in local householders' gardens searching for the remains of Hyde Abbey. The first dig (2016) attracted 40 participants and substantial press interest. Many of those taking part had no archaeological experience and ranged of age from 4 to 80. Skilled volunteers from WARG (Winchester Archaeological Rescue Group) provided supervision and training for 2 hour "slots".
The dig was rated outstandingly successful from feedback forms filled in by those participating. The dig culminated in finding the east wall of the south transept of the demolished abbey. The dig was funded from a small participant fee and out of Hyde900 reserves. Winchester based ADAM Architecture provided pro bono graphic services.
The second dig took place the following year on a larger scale, this time 150 participated in the event over 40 of whom were under 18 years old. Those attending included a wheelchair participant (cleaning finds) and a blind person (finds sorting). The feedback produced a similar response to the 2016 dig.
The dig was funded by a small fee from participants, the Heritage Lottery Fund, seed funding (on a one off basis) from Winchester City Council and a donation from Belgarum Estate Agents. Again ADAM Architecture provided pro bono graphic services.
The event again attracted substantial publicity. In addition to the local Winchester and Southampton press, there were interviews with Radio Solent, and television coverage by That's Solent TV and ITV Meridian, and the Southampton Video Camera Club made a very successful video of the event. Full details can be found on the Hyde900 website
The dig was a major success archaeologically, finding the remains of the original Norman cloister arcade. These are rated to be "of outstanding international interest" by Dr John Crook, Consultant Archaeologist to Winchester Cathedral, and Professor Martin Biddle, Professor of Archaeology, University of Oxford. They are to be revealed at a press conference on 20 October 2017.
It is hoped that the event will continue to be an annual one, as there are several more householders keen to offer their gardens having been enthused by the two digs to date.
The funding of £1000 from Aviva for a 2018 dig would enable Hyde900 to continue to keep the dig fee at a low level, allowing all those interested to take part.

Project Video


The huge satisfaction of those taking part, and the enthusiasm it generates - particularly amongst young children - for local history, monastic architecture, and archaeology.

Location: King Alfred Terrace, Winchester, United Kingdom