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An aerial view of an archaeological excavation of a cemetery next to Lindisfarne Priory

Durham University excavations on Lindisfarne, run jointly by Dr David Petts (Durham University) and DigVentures, continue into their seventh year. This year we are focusing on a Medieval cemetery.

The Cemetery

This year marks the seventh season of the joint Durham University – DigVentures excavations on the early medieval monastery of Lindisfarne (Holy Island, Northumbria).  Much of the focus of the work has been on the site of a cemetery that dates from the 8th-11th centuries AD. Unusually for Northern England, bone preservation is good, and we’ve uncovered nearly 40 burials of men, women and children. Although most seem to have been buried in simple shrouds, a small number were placed in substantial wooden chests. One grave in particular seems to have been the focus for other burials and was associated with a fragment of exotic imported stone from the East Mediterranean. Associated with the cemetery have been fragments of at least ten small carved stone burial markers of a type unique to Lindisfarne, as well as other small pieces of sculpture.

Additional Discoveries

In addition to the cemetery, we have also been exploring structural remains. We have identified a large lime kiln of Norman date, used to provide raw materials for the construction of the later Priory. A series of substantial stone walls are also starting to emerge – the big challenge for the future is dating them, one as associated with a fragment of Roman Samian pottery, so they may be earlier than we initially thought. As with all excavations though, there is still much to do in the post-excavation stage. Keep an eye out for future updates!

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