Previously undiscovered henge re-used in Anglo-Saxon and later periods, excavations find

Posted On: April 8th, 2024

Sacred Landscapes and Deep Time: Mobility, Memory, and Monasticism on Crowland

A 1735 sketch by William Stukeley of Anchor Church Field, from the British Library collections (MS 51048, f. 57r).

Duncan Wright and Hugh Willmott have published a new article about their excavations at Anchor Church Field, which found a previously undiscovered prehistoric henge, reused in the Anglo-Saxon period and then by Crowland Abbey who built a hall and chapel on the site.
Whilst searching for a postulated early Medieval hermitage near Crowland, England, the authors identified a site with a long and complex chronological sequence. During the Neolithic or Early Bronze Age, a monumental henge was built, among the largest so far identified in the Fens of eastern England, probably later adapted into a timber circle. After a period of apparent abandonment, the interior of the henge was reoccupied around the 7th century a.d. and, after further early Medieval phases, was transformed by the abbots of Crowland through construction of a high-status hall and chapel complex in the later 12th century.
While no conclusive evidence was found for an early hermitage that local tradition associates with the eremites Guthlac and Pega, Anchor Church Field offers an exceptional case study of an evolving sacred landscape in a deep-time perspective, culminating in its redevelopment by the Anglo-Norman monastery to claim legitimacy from illustrious saintly forebears.
The full article is available Open Access at:…/10…/00934690.2024.2332853