Weston Homes’ Abbey Quays construction site in Barking is next to the ruins of Barking Abbey and brought in archaeologists during the early stages of enabling works excavation. Weston is working with RPS Consulting Services as archaeological consultant and Archaeology South-East which is undertaking the field work to excavate to artefacts.
The site is located at the northern end of Abbey Road, and situated between the former Barking Abbey (of which only ruins now remain) and original course of the River Roding. The findings may lead to some academic rethinking on what occurred in Barking during the Roman, Saxon and Medieval periods, according to Weston's team.
Barking Abbey was originally founded in the 7th Century by Saint Erkenwald for his sister Saint Etherlburg. Following the Viking Raid, the abbey was subsequently rebuilt in the 10th Century. It was dissolved in 1539 as part of King Henry VIII’s Dissolution of Monasteries.
The excavation has found two small buildings that likely date back to the early medieval period under the Saxons. The excavations have identified a significant amount of Roman building material was re-used in early medieval structures, with many Roman roof tiles reused to form floors.
On the landward side of the excavation, a fine chalk block wall has been uncovered which may date back to 12th Century and could have been part of the abbey precinct wall. Other findings include a finely carved bone spoon, likely to be early medieval and appears to have come from Europe, possibly Scandinavia, the archaeologists believe.
Weston Homes says that it is committed to the preserving the historical importance of the site and is working with Historic England, the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham and its own archaeological team to find a way to showcase the findings. It is considering building glass flooring in the new Abbey Quays development, allowing visitors to look at the abbey wall ruins.
Weston Homes chairman Bob Weston said: “Weston Homes are committed to ensuring that the historic findings at Barking are rightfully protected and preserved. It is exciting to know that we have found several important pieces of British history that will help to shape our understanding of the early Anglo-Roman and medieval eras. We look forward to working with the archaeological teams as the excavation continues over the coming weeks.”