Chance to visit HS2 archaeology dig near Aylesbury

Excavation at St Mary’s Church, Stoke Mandeville

Sunday, 30th May 2021, 8:31 am
The covered dig site at St Mary's Stoke Mandeville
The covered dig site at St Mary's Stoke Mandeville

HS2 is inviting Bucks residents to visit its field museum at St Mary’s Church, Stoke Mandeville, to see how its archaeologists have started to unlock almost 900 years of history.

The St Mary’s Field Museum will open to the public on the weekend of May 29 and 30, and on regular dates throughout the summer.

Inside a specially constructed tent the size of a football pitch, archaeologists working on behalf of HS2 are currently excavating the remains of the former parish church of St Mary the Virgin, as part of a once-in-a-generation opportunity to learn more about the ruins of a medieval church and churchyard.

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The dig site at St Mary's Stoke Mandeville

Inside the museum, visitors will be able to ascend the viewing platform for a bird’s-eye view of ongoing excavations, as well as watch displays and films exploring the history of St Mary’s Church and the amazing archaeological discoveries in the surrounding area. Experts will be available to answer any questions.

In 2018 LP-Archaeology began initial work and a comprehensive series of archaeological excavations, surveys, and building recording has followed, revealing well-preserved walls and structural features of the church. Last yearHS2 revealed that unusual stone carvings, medieval graffiti and other markings had been found, with questions raised as to whether they were sundials or witching marks.

Earlier this year, works began on the final phase of excavations at the site. A large 'tent' structure was constructed over the whole church and churchyard to protect it from the elements and provide a stable environment for the excavations to take place. This covering also helps the archaeologists give those people buried there the dignity, care and respect they deserve.

Over the next six months, a dedicated team of archaeologists, assisted by engineers, will remove the remaining structure of the church and excavate all of the individuals buried in the churchyard. HS2 says all artefacts and human remains uncovered will be treated with dignity, care and respect and our discoveries and stories of what life was like in Stoke Mandeville over a 900-year period will be shared with the community through open days and expert lectures.

Tickets for timed slots at the open weekend will be available to book from May 17 and booking will close at 10am on Friday May 28.

To book, see here