In Pictures: "Great Hall" used for Anglo-Saxon royal feasts found in Lyminge excavation

By Culture24 Reporter | 02 November 2012
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A photo of a small mottled yellow and green cross from an archaeological investigation
A gilt copper-alloy section of a decorative horse harness from between 525-275 AD. This evidence from the Lyminge dig, supporting the view of a warrior society in pre-Christian culture with horses at its forefront, was a key piece of evidence for the archaeological team© University of Reading
A huge Anglo-Saxon banqueting hall, used by guests feasting in the company of the King more than 1,400 years ago, has been discovered during excavations on Lyminge in Kent.

A photo of a section of white skulls sitting in a messy brown archaeological pit
This is one of several skulls found at the Kent site© University of Reading
Archaeologists from the University of Reading had already found extensive remains from an Anglo-Saxon monastery a few inches beneath the soil of the village. But this large complex is the first “Great Hall” to be discovered in more than 30 years.

A photo from above of a woman digging a trench with a small spade in a digging pit
The dig has been revelatory in terms of explaining England's conversion to Christianity© University of Reading
“The Hall provides an exceedingly rare glimpse of royal accommodation of a type otherwise evoked in the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf,” explained Dr Gabor Thomas, from the University of Reading’s Department of Archaeology, who said the “remarkably preserved” foundations had been an “entirely unanticipated” emergence.

A landscape photo of a large archaeological investigation being carried out in parkland
The Hall has a groundplan of 160 square metres© University of Reading
"Nearly all the archaeological information shedding light on Kent around the time of the conversion to Christianity is based upon cemetery finds. The site at Lyminge is the first to provide a detailed picture of life at an aristocratic estate centre in Anglo-Saxon Kent during the height of the kingdom's political power at the end of the 6th century.”

A photo of a small, long, thin metal implement from an archaeological excavation
This Anglo-Saxon toilet sets features three bronze tools attached to a wire ring - possibly scrapers for nails, ear scoops for tricky ear wax and tweezers© University of Reading
The hall could fit up to 60 people for royal assemblies. "It was a prestigious building used at specific times for a specific purpose, such as periodic gatherings involving feasting and gift-giving, to reinforce the social bonds between the king and his loyal retainers,” adds Thomas.

A photo of a fragment of Anglo-Saxon ceramic sitting in a muddy archaeological pit
This engraved Anglo-Saxon comb is made of bone© University of Reading
Luxury glass vessels and a rare bridle fitting – previously only found in graves of the Anglo-Saxon warrior elite – are among the finds. Further investigations, backed by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Kent Archaeological Society and the Canterbury Archaeological Trust, are planned during the summers of 2013 and 2014.

An overhead photo of a brown archaeological site within parkland surroundings
An initial geophysical survey failed to reveal the Hall© University of Reading
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