Archaeologists have descended on a small village in Berkshire for a third year in the hopes of learning more about an ancient monastery located next to a church.

Researchers and students from the University of Reading began excavating a site at Holy Trinity Church in Cookham on Monday, August 7.

It is hoped that the group will learn more about an Anglo-Saxon settlement, with an old cemetery being uncovered alongside evidence of a road, housing structures and cooking equipment.

Professor Gabor Thomas, project lead, from the University of Reading, told the Observer: "It's really exciting. This is really hitting the jackpot in terms of the quality and the level of preservation of the archaeology.

"It will enable us to push the frontiers of knowledge forward in terms of understanding how these institutions are organised.

“This site is of national archaeological importance. No other monastic settlement from this period in southern England has such a good state of preservation.”

The excavations are run as part of a field school for the Department of Archaeology at the University of Reading, with students working alongside local volunteers and others in the field. 

First-year student Abigail Walton, 19, said: "It is a lot of fun and we are all really enjoying it.

"Last year it was a surprise when they found their first set of bones. There are steps to an excavation but everything can change in a second."

Speaking about what it is like to be involved with the cemetery excavation dealing with the possibility of finding human remains, Abigail said: "Obviously there is that moment of shock - but we're archaeology students and some of us have done digs before.

"I'm not sure you'll ever get used to it."

It is hoped that the group will be able to recover human remains, which will aid the researchers in understanding the population of the settlement.

First found in 2021, the University have a permit to return to the site in Cookham each summer until 2024.

Last year excavators uncovered an industrial and craft zone which would have supplied nuns with food and helped to transport imported items along the River Thames.

Logistics Manager for the Cookham Abbey excavation and Field School, David Mudd said: "This is really great archaeology and it is a great bit of English history.

"I was really pleased to find the site is so close to home. I live in Maidenhead."

David has seen the site develop over the last three years, with more finds being made and trenches being extended.

The dig runs from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Saturday, until Saturday, September 2.

Free site tours led by a senior archaeologist will be taking place each Saturday, open to the public, which can be booked via