Archaeologists undertaking an excavation at a church have made some major finds.

Over the last three years, the University of Reading have led a series of digs at an ancient monastery located next to Holy Trinity Church in Cookham.

This year a month-long dig began on Monday, August 7 - with archaeologists drawing the excavation to a close on Saturday, September 2.

Rare finds made this year have revealed that the monastery was a social and religious hub for those living in the eighth and ninth centuries.

Findings such as the discovery of a large timber structure with an internal floor and hearth - believed to have been one of the main buildings - have helped researchers form a picture of what life was like for those living in the area.

A well, with a preserved wooden barrel-lined shaft containing other wooden artefacts and a substantial walled monastic, has also been found on the site.

A cemetery has also been uncovered, believed to include over 50 of the deceased, including both adults and children of both sexes spanning three generations,

Researchers carefully removed those found in order to run DNA tests before returning their bodies to their resting places.

Professor Gabor Thomas, of the University of Reading who is leading the project said: “The discoveries we have made at Cookham in 2023 will help us to paint a much clearer picture of daily life at the monastery.

"We will need to carry out more detailed analyses of what we have found, but the artefacts unearthed at this year’s dig again show the exceptional quality of preservation at Cookham.”

The remains of the monastery were first discovered in 2021 in a test excavation by staff from the University of Reading’s Archaeology Department and volunteers from local archaeological societies.

A full-scale dig followed in the summer of 2022 when excavators uncovered an industrial and craft zone that would have supplied nuns with food and helped to transport imported items along the River Thames. 

The University of Reading currently has a permit to return for a fourth dig in Summer 2024.