Reculver: guidebooks


Reculver © David Gill

The Saxon Shore fort of Reculver in Kent is in the care of English Heritage. Parts of the Roman fort has been eroded into the sea. In the 7th century the fort became the site for the foundation of an Anglo-Saxon minster. The site was placed in Site Guardianship in 1950.


Stuart E. Rigold wrote a short guide to the site in 1971. This followed the format of the DOE concertina card guides (see also Hardknott Roman fort; Hetty Pegler’s Tump). There are 6 columns of text (the fort, the minster) on one side (with a small plan of the fort and church), a series of images including a plan of the 7th-15th century ecclesiastical structures.



The present English Heritage guide by Tony Wilmott covers the two Saxon Shore forts in Kent, Reculver and Richborough.

Releasing the Story of Sutton Hoo


Sutton Hoo © David Gill

The National Trust has been awarded £1.8 million by the Heritage Lottery Fund to enhance the visitor experience at Sutton Hoo. One of the projects will be to create a 17 m high viewing tower to give some visitors views of the burial ground. Tranmer House, overlooking the cemetery, will be the home for a new interpretative exhibition.

Benedictine Abbeys in State Care


Bury St Edmunds Abbey © David Gill

Battle Abbey, Sussex. The Abbey was founded on the site of William I’s victory at the battle of Hastings. It seems likely that it was founded at some point after 1070, and the choir of the new abbey was consecrated in 1076. The completed abbey was consecrated in February 1094. The first four monks came from the abbey of Marmoutier Abbey in the Loire. [EH]

Canterbury, St Augustine’s Abbey, Kent. The first abbey was established in 598 as part of Augustine’s mission to England. Abbot Scotland, a monk from Mont St Michel, was appointed in 1070. [EH]

Boxgrove Priory, West Sussex. Founded c. 1117 from abbey of Lessay in Normandy. [EH]

Westminster Abbey. The Pyx Chamber is in State Guardianship. [EH]


1955 (12th impression 1977)


East Anglia

Bury St Edmunds Abbey, Suffolk. The monastery was the resting place of the body of king Edmund killed in 903. The Benedictine abbey was found in 1020. [EH]

Colchester, St John’s Abbey, Essex. The abbey was founded in 1095 to the south of the town. The 15th century gatehouse is in State Guardianship. [EH]

Isleham Priory, Cambridgeshire. The priory was founded c. 1100. The priory church is in State Guardianship. [EH]

Denny Abbey, Cambridgeshire. Founded in 1159, and passed to the Knights Templars in 1170. [EH]

Binham Priory, Norfolk. The priory was founded in 1091 from St Alban’s Abbey in Hertfordshire. [EH]


Binham Priory, undercroft (with dorter above) and warming room beyond © David Gill


The South-West

Muchelney Abbey, Somerset. [EH] [Historic England]

Abbotsbury Abbey, Dorset. The abbey was founded in 1044. [EH]


Ewenny Priory, Glamorgan. The Benedictine priory was founded by Maurice de Londres in 1141. It was founded from the abbey of St Peter in Gloucester that had links with the earlier church at Ewenny established 1116-26. [Cadw]

The North-East and Yorkshire


Whitby Abbey © David Gill

Whitby Abbey, Yorkshire. The first monastery at Whitby was established by Abbess Hild in 657 at the prompting of king Oswy of Northumbria. The Synod of Whitby was held in 664. The monastery was probably destroyed during the Viking raids c. 867. In the years after the Norman conquest the monastery was established, probably c. 1078, by Reinfrid, from the Benedictine monastery of Evesham. The church was constructed c. 1090. [EH]

Jarrow Priory, Tyne and Wear. Founded from Durham between 1075-83. [EH]


Finchale Priory © David Gill

Finchale Priory, Durham. The origins lie in the hermitage of St Godric that continued until 1196 when it became a priory linked to Durham Cathedral. [EH]


Lindisfarne © David Gill

Lindisfarne Priory, Northumberland. The first monastery was founded in 635. It was destroyed by a Viking raid in 793. In 1069 St Cuthbert’s remains were brought to the island from Durham  to protect them during the Norman raids of the north. After 1083 Benedictine monks linked to Durham arrived at the older monastery site on Holy Island. The church was probably constructed from the 1120s. [EH]


Tynemouth Priory © David Gill

Tynemouth Priory, Tyne and Wear. The first monastery at Tynemouth was probably established in the late 8th century, part of the kingdom of Northumbria. It was important as the burial site of king Osred II of Northumbria. The monastery was probably destroyed in 875. A church on the site was destroyed during the early years of the Norman conquest, and the location given to the monks of Jarrow some time after 1074. A new church was built in 1083. Some after 1090 the monastery was given to the Benedictine abbey of St Albans in Hertfordshire by Robert de Mowbray, earl of Northumberland. [EH]


Wetheral Priory, Cumbria. founded in the early 12th century. [EH]


Dunfermline Abbey, Fife. Founded c. 1070, perhaps as the earliest Benedictine community in Scotland. The abbey was established in 1128. [HES]


Iona © David Gill

Iona Abbey. The Benedictine community was established in 1200. [HES]



Summer Solstice at Sutton Hoo


Sutton Hoo © David Gill

There are preparations underway at Sutton Hoo for the ‘Summer Solstice’ weekend. One of the displays includes (reconstructed) material from Switzerland that was contemporary with the Sutton Hoo burial.

North Elmham Chapel


North Elmham Chapel © David Gill

In the late Anglo-Saxon period North Elmham was a focal point for the Bishops of East Anglia. The bishopric was moved to Thetford in 1071.

Bishop Herbert de Losinga [ODNB] founded a church, after 1091, on the site of the earlier Anglo-Saxon cathedral. At some point after 1388 Bishop Henry le Despencer turned the former chapel into a castle. Part of the walls within the inner moat can be seen to the right of the chapel’s apse.

The chapel is now in the care of English Heritage.

The MPBW published a short paper guide by S.E. Rigold (1960) using the site’s then title of ‘North Elmham Saxon Cathedral’.


1960 (repr. 1966)

Rendlesham Conference


Rendlesham Conference © David Gill

Some 450 delegates attended a conference at the Apex in Bury St Edmunds to hear about the results of the survey and excavations (2008-14) at the vicus regius of Rendlesham in Suffolk. One of the themes explored was the relationship between this apparent elite site on the Deben with the ship-burial site at Sutton Hoo. A further discussion was on the place of the former Saxon Shore fort at Walton Castle (near Felixstowe).

Papers were:

  • Sir Michael Bunbury, The landowner’s perspective
  • Faye Minter, How Rendlesham has been investigated
  • Jude Plouviez, Results: the Roman period
  • Christopher Scull, Results: the Anglo-Saxon period
  • Andrew Woods, Interpreting the early medieval coins
  • Charlotte Scull, Beasts and feasts: the animal resources
  • Kelly Kilpatrick, The place-names of a royal Anglo-Saxon landscape: a toponymic survey of Rendlesham and the Deben valley
  • Tom Williamson, Rendlesham in context: the changing geographies of early medieval England
  • Andrew Rogerson, Not always a backwater, the northern half of the East Anglian Kingdom in the 5th-9th centuries
  • Christopher Scull, Suffolk, East Anglia and the North Sea: the importance of Rendelsham in the 5th to 8th centuries AD

Martin Carver chaired the final session and emphasised the international significance of the discoveries. Christopher Scull outlined plans for publication (including an article in Antiquity) and future grant applications.

The conference was organised by Suffolk County Council with support from the Sutton Hoo Society, Council for British Archaeology East, and University of Suffolk.

The conference was sponsored by Suffolk Archaeology, Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB, Suffolk County Council, British Sugar and the National Trust.

Guidebooks to Carisbrooke Castle


1933 (2nd ed. 1948; 10th impress. 1964)

The first official guidebook to Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight was by Sir Charles Peers. This was one of the earliest of Peers’ guidebooks, and was reissued as a second edition in 1948. It is divided into two main sections: description and history. There are two foldout plans at the back, one showing the castle, and the other the earthworks surrounding it. There are also a series of black and white illustrations.


1956 (7th impress. 1967)

An illustrated guide appeared in 1956, and was prepared by the Central Office of Information. The format consists of small black and white photographs with a short text adjacent to each. (The style is similar to that adopted for Holyroodhouse.) The second half has a longer text (‘A short history’), and there is a short section on the donkey wheel.


2010 (rev. 2013)

The present English Heritage (red) guide is by Christopher Young. This now starts with a tour, followed by a history. There is a foldout plan inside the back cover.

Peers identified ‘the stone-walled fort which underlies the Norman earthworks is probably of late Roman construction’. Elsewhere he notes, ‘The rounded angles and the type of masonry suggest a Roman origin for this walled enclosure … The plan of the gateway and the small turret are, however, quite different from anything in any of the Roman coast fortresses …’ The illustrated guide also asserts that ‘beneath the Norman earthworks … there are traces of a Roman fort, but there is no recorded history of the Castle in Roman times’. The English Heritage guide identifies these putative Roman features as the walls of a Saxon fort dating to c. 1000. It states, ‘there is no secure evidence of Roman occupation on the castle hilltop itself’.