Anglo-Saxon church uncovered UNDERNEATH a Norman church

Anglo-Saxon church uncovered UNDERNEATH a Norman church

The remarkable remains of what could be an Anglo-Saxon church have been uncovered beneath the foundations of a long demolished Norman church.

Archeologists working for the controversial new high-speed railway network, HS2, uncovered the ruins during excavation work on the remains of the St Mary's Old Church in Stoke Mandeville, Buckinghamshire. 

Under the foundation layer of the Norman church, built in 1080 shortly after the Norman conquest, the archeologists discovered evidence of another building.

The experts suspect this is the remains of a much older, and previously unknown, Anglo-Saxon church that would have been similar to the still-standing Saxon-era St Peter's Church in Barton-upon-Humber, North Lincolnshire.

The church originally being excavated had been renovated in the 13th, 14th and 17th centuries, and played a central role in the community.

It had been furnished with a variety of extensions and the construction of a brick bell tower over its long history.

They were able to determine the existence of the Anglo-Saxon church based on the fact the Norman church structure was built on a light grey compacted foundation band.

Based on other sites previously excavated, they knew this band had been laid by the Normans themselves.

This means that any archaeological deposits found below that band would be pre-Norman, and so it was most likely Anglo Saxon era.

Archaeologists also discovered flint walls forming a square structure underneath the Norman levels.

These were enclosed by a circular boundary ditch, and a small number of associated burials. Archaeologists believe it is a Saxon church.

The flint foundations are more than a yard wide, which indicates it would have been a tall structure, although its footprint would have been small.