“The history of the Christian conversion in Kent,” Knox says, “the historically earliest kingdom to be converted in the Anglo-Saxon period, is integral to our understanding of the creation of medieval and, indeed, modern England.” The Christian Anglo-Saxon community in Lyminge founded an important “double” monastery—home to both monks and nuns—dating from the seventh to ninth century.The existence of this monastery has been known from at least the middle of the nineteenth century, when Canon Jenkins, a local vicar and amateur archaeologist, discovered the remains of the ancient monastic complex.
This fantastical view can be traced to later, Christian writers who described the pagan world of the fifth and sixth centuries as being inhabited by wizards, warriors, demons, and dragons.
But apart from these Christian ruins, little was known about Lyminge’s earlier history.
During the dark and violent times of the fifth century, pagan warrior kings ruled southern Britain.
The settlement encompasses both the pre-Christian and later Christian Anglo-Saxon periods and is proving valuable in understanding the development of early English communities.
According to Alexandra Knox, archaeologist and Lyminge Archaeological Project research assistant, the work there is supplying a key piece of the puzzle.
“Excavating large open areas in villages of medieval origin can be an extremely successful strategy in uncovering the evolution of the Saxon village,” explains Knox.