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Dry spell reveals past life of Mottisfont Abbey near Romsey
THE heatwave has brought the past a little closer at a tourist attraction.
As the hot weather has dried out the grass at Mottisfont Abbey, near Romsey, it has revealed the remains of the old priory hidden below the ground.
Mottisfont Priory was established in 1201AD and was home to Augustinian monks until the disillusion of the monasteries in 1539.
Looking at the parched lawns from above staff have clearly been able to see evidence of the buildings that formerly occupied the site back then.
These marks show the priory’s cloister, a rectangular plot of open space surrounded by covered walkways, which would run alongside the buildings.
They also show the remains of what would have been a meeting house, another courtyard and what is likely to have been a dining hall.
The hidden buildings are thought to have been demolished sometime after 1724.
Mottisfont Abbey’s visitor experience manager Dr Louise Govier said: “The first year I was here, in 2010, we had the parch marks but we haven’t had them since.
“The grass is parched because of the remains underneath.
“When it’s dry and we haven’t had any rain the grass above the stone work and the remains of the buildings goes brown but the grass around the edges stays green because it can still get moisture.
“The oldest bit of building we still have, the cellarium, was the beginning of the cloister.”
National Trust archaeologist Gary Marshall said: “During long dry spells like this the parch marks can be quite amazing – it’s like seeing an X-ray of the archaeology beneath.
“Archaeologists get quite excited about parch marks because they don’t occur very often and they can tell us so much without digging.
“We saw those marks a few years ago but I don’t think it has been as clear as this. The good thing about the parch marks is the visiting public can actually see what’s buried there. The priory was laid out around a cloister and the marks that are showing up relate to that. The northern range of the cloister was the priory church that has been retained as part of the present house.”
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