The excavation at Congresbury village cross

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YCCCART - The Cross

Excavation at Congresbury Cross, showing the lower part of the buried step and basement

600 year old foundations unearthed by local archaeology group.

During August 2016, YCCCART (Yatton, Congresbury, Claverham & Cleeve Archaeological Research Team), led by ex-North Somerset County Archaeologist Vince Russett, carried out an excavation at the foot of the Scheduled medieval village cross, standing at the heart of Congresbury.

This is probably the first time that a community archaeology group has ever excavated a village cross.

Discussions have taken place about the threat to it from road traffic, and so to inform any such discussions, it was necessary to examine the below-ground archaeology.

A well-known local story is that there were two more steps buried under the road, and this story is quoted (and used) in the Scheduling documents.

What the excavation found was that while there are not two more steps, the lower part of the bottom step of the cross has been buried for many years. Beneath this (and never intended to be seen) is the local stone raft on which the Doulting freestone cross was built (before 1390 AD). The raft was to prevent it from sinking in the blue clay under the site.

The road around it has been eroded away and reconstructed many times (as it was in Congresbury’s busy market place for centuries).

The structure was originally constructed for the Bishop of Bath and Wells, who owned the market and manor from the reign of King John until the 16th century. It was later owned by Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital in Bristol, but was given back to the Parish Council in 1975.

The excavation has saved Congresbury Parish Council many thousands of pounds as YCCCART’s services were free. Hopefully the group has helped in the process to preserve this exceptional monument for another 600 years.

Information about Congresbury and its people.

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