Archaeology Dig at Old Quarr

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Community Excavation at Quarr Abbey, Isle of Wight

Brief Summary Report

Seven trial trenches were excavated on the site of the medieval abbey in September 2014 as part of the ‘Two Abbeys Project’ funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The excavation team included people from Southampton City Council Archaeology Unit, the Isle of Wight Natural History and Archaeological Society (IWNHAS), Nodehill Sixth Form Campus, and the University of Southampton. English Heritage issued Scheduled Monument Consent for the work.

The Cistercian abbey was founded in 1131, defended by an enclosing wall with gun ports in the later 14th century, and closed in 1536. Percy Stone excavated part of the site (Excavation Field) in 1891. Since 1997 several fields have been surveyed by the University of Southampton using techniques including resistivity and magnetometry. The trial trenches were up to 5 sq m and most were targeted on geophysical anomalies in the Excavation Field.

Walls, foundations, and demolition rubble were present in several trenches. Building material included West Country slate, local limestone rubble, Purbeck Marble, lime mortar, plaster, roof tiles, glazed floor tiles, window glass, and lead cames. Pottery dated to the construction, use, and demolition of the abbey. Post-medieval occupation evidence included pottery, tobacco pipes, animal bones, and oyster shells.

The work showed that archaeological remains survive well in the Excavation Field. Features that matched resistivity anomalies were found in several trenches but in one trench a substantial stone wall had not been detected by resistivity.

A brief inerim report on these works is available here.

Further fieldwork is planned for 2015 and 2016.

Matt Garner
Archaeology Unit
Southampton City Council
20/1/2015

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Your generosity helps preserve Quarr for future generations...

Welcome to the Abbey of Our Lady of Quarr, a monastery on the Isle of Wight, just off the south coast of England. It is home to a small group of Benedictine monks who strive to dedicate their lives to the glory of God, and whose day is characterised by prayer, work and community life.

Quarr Abbey is situated in an area of outstanding natural beauty. Visitors are welcome to attend worship in the Abbey Church. You can visit our gardens, take refreshment in our Tea Shop and find out about the monastery in our Visitor Centre. The Farm Shop offers home grown produce and the Monastery Shop religious articles, books and souvenirs. There is a new exhibition of the work of local artists every week in the gallery.

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