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"It still holds secrets, but they are deeply buried"

Wednesday 08 June 2022

"It still holds secrets, but they are deeply buried"

Wednesday 08 June 2022

More Roman secrets about Alderney's Nunnery have been revealed following 10 days of excavations.

Parts of the south and east walls of a large building were discovered under the remains of later fortifications which appears to date back to the later medieval or Tudor periods and would have been Alderney’s largest building.

A surprise find was an ornately carved stone arch on what would have been the second floor. Since the Nunnery deposits are so deep, the archeologists were only able to expose the top of the arch.

This building had fallen into ruin before work began to repair the damage caused by the fall of the Roman east wall. Its back wall - including the arch - was built into a new inner rampart probably in the seventeenth century. 


Pictured: The Nunnery site in Alderney has garnered significant attention for the fortifications buried beneath it.

The near-fortnight of excavations was led by archaeological charity Dig Alderney.

The volunteer diggers also discovered the point at which the Roman south wall had cracked as the corner of the fort fell away. At some point in the Middle Ages, the wall walk was topped up with a layer of cobbles as it was starting to subside. 

The damaged corner was supported by an impromptu wall backed by a deep earth ramp. A stone platform behind the ruined building comprised a solid mass of rubble that proved tough for the diggers to work through. 

Dr Rob Fry of Reading University and volunteers from the team conducted a Ground Penetrating Radar survey of the western parts of Longis Common. Reconciling the data in full will take some months, but preliminary results show that the whole area is littered with archaeological features up to three metres below the surface. 


Pictured: Part of the archway discovered during the recent dig.

Dr Jason Monaghan explained that whilst this round of investigations are complete, the site “still holds secrets, but they are deeply buried”.

“Our attention is now turned to Longis Common, and the exciting possibilities opened up by the results of the new survey."

The newly exposed areas of the Nunnery will now be landscaped by Visit Alderney for the benefit of the public. 

Dig Alderney thanked the Guernsey Museum Archaeology Group, the States of Alderney, the Alderney Society, States Works, the Alderney Wildlife Trust, Driffield Estates and the Alderney Golf Club for their assistance with the project. 


Archeological projects starting in Alderney

"We do not know if the Nunnery was ever, in fact, a Nunnery"

Alderney dig to continue

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