Community Excavation at Quarr Abbey, Isle of Wight

Brief Summary Report



     Seven trial trenches were excavated on the site of the medieval abbey in September 2014 as part of the ‘Two Abbeys Project’ funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The excavation team included people from Southampton City Council Archaeology Unit, the Isle of Wight Natural History and Archaeological Society (IWNHAS), Nodehill Sixth Form Campus, and the University of Southampton. English Heritage issued Scheduled Monument Consent for the work.


     The Cistercian abbey was founded in 1131, defended by an enclosing wall with gun ports in the later 14th century, and closed in 1536. Percy Stone excavated part of the site (Excavation Field) in 1891. Since 1997 several fields have been surveyed by the University of Southampton using techniques including resistivity and magnetometry. The trial trenches were up to 5 sq m and most were targeted on geophysical anomalies in the Excavation Field.


    Walls, foundations, and demolition rubble were present in several trenches. Building material included West Country slate, local limestone rubble, Purbeck Marble, lime mortar, plaster, roof tiles, glazed floor tiles, window glass, and lead cames. Pottery dated to the construction, use, and demolition of the abbey. Post-medieval occupation evidence included pottery, tobacco pipes, animal bones, and oyster shells.


     The work showed that archaeological remains survive well in the Excavation Field. Features that matched resistivity anomalies were found in several trenches but in one trench a substantial stone wall had not been detected by resistivity.


     A brief inerim report on these works is available here


     Further fieldwork is planned for 2015 and 2016.








Matt Garner

Archaeology Unit

Southampton City Council