British archaeologists at the site of a planned high-speed railway struck English history gold: remains of an Anglo-Saxon building. Crews are eager to see what else the centuries-old site holds.
God honors remembering “the former things of old”—most importantly that He alone is God. (Isaiah 46:9) He even commanded setting up stones of remembrance to remind of His might, goodness, and grace. (Genesis 28:10-22, Joshua 4:21-22, 1 Samuel 7:7-12) The ancient building appears to be a church. It shows that God was advancing His kingdom across millennia and around the Earth.
Preparation for the railway line called HS2 began in September 2020 in Buckinghamshire county. HS2 will link London, the Midlands, northern England, and eventually Scotland.
But before the project can move full steam ahead, archaeologists from LP-Archaeology are examining what lies in its path. No one wants to carelessly destroy undiscovered historical treasures.
For centuries, historians thought the Normans (1066-1154) were first to build a church on the site of the planned HS2 railway track. St. Mary’s, a Norman church dating from 1080, once lay on the route. It was demolished in the 1960s.
But after six months of digging, archaeologists discovered something much older than St. Mary’s. They found a thousand-year-old Anglo-Saxon (450-1066) structure.
Site Manager Tom Swannick says the find appears to be a church tower. “You can see . . . the actual wall itself is about a meter [a little over three feet] wide,” he says. “It’s actually quite small. It’s only about four meters by four meters [about 13 feet by 13 feet] that you could walk around.”
Workers have also found stone walls made of flint and flooring from the Anglo-Saxon site.
“We’d always kind of hoped there’d be something earlier on this site to help explain what’s going on,” says archaeologist Victoria Roberts. “When we actually found something, it was hugely exciting.”
Researchers have set up a so-called “field museum.” A tented area allows people to view the archaeological process and examples of the discoveries made there.
Among the other finds are a coin from the time of Æthelred the Unready, an English king who died in 1016, and really ancient roof tiles from the Roman occupation of Britain (43-410).
Historians will have to think again about what was here before this building, who was using the land, and how. “This earlier structure is showing that the mound that this sits on in the valley floor has some other significance to it,” explains Swannick. The importance of this overgrown patch has been forgotten. But the recent discoveries hint that there’s probably more history waiting to be unearthed.
Why? Studying the past helps root today’s events in history, in which God’s presence and purpose can be seen.
Pray: For inquisitive minds to understand lessons from history and for wisdom to see present circumstances in light of a faithful and sovereign God who rules over all of history.