A project to study the lower Test valley in the Anglo-Saxon period.
In 2013 Christopher Collier, one of our long term members, died and left the society a substantial bequest. In view of his interest in Romsey in Saxon times it was decided to use this bequest to instigate a major project on a study of the lower Test valley in the Saxon period.
The society enlisted the collaboration of the History Department at Winchester University and received much support especially from Professor Ryan Lavelle, Dr Alex Langlands, Natalie Barrett and David Ashby. From 2015-2019 the group looked at the whole area from Mottisfont to Millbrook and Chilworth to Tytherley.
The major studies undertaken were:
A review of what is known of each parish in the Saxon period.
A study of all the local Saxon charters, giving descriptions of their boundaries.
A consideration of the geology, landscape,and the watercourses, natural and artificial, in the lower Test Valley.
A review of the archaeological evidence for the Saxon period in the Test valley, including particularly the iron smelting in the Narrow Lane area of Romsey and the Saxon pottery kilns at Michelmersh.
A review of the evidence for the history of Romsey Abbey in the Saxon period, archaeological and literary, this included funding a GPR survey within the Abbey church.
A review of the literary evidence for the development Christianity and the Church in the lower Test valley, particularly concerning Nursling.
A review of all the evidence given in Domesday Book for the lower Test valley - this is planned to be published as a book.
A review of local place-names and what they tell us of the Saxon period.
*Notes on all these topics are available to consult on paper and in digital form.
We ran a conference at which a number of Saxon experts gave interpretations of similar areas to ours. Many of these experts have given us further support and advice since. Winchester University also provided members of the society with training in the use of GIS mapping as well as geophysical surveying which will have long term use for other projects than the Saxon one. A number of expeditions/outings were organised to look at the landscape and test out our theories and interpretations.
We ran several exhibitions where our preliminary findings were displayed as posters.
We have amassed a great deal of information and tried to disseminate it through talks, exhibitions and articles but the main work still remains largely unpublished and we are still working on ways to make it all available
In memory of Lt.Col. Christopher Collier R.E.M.E
(b. 1929 - d. 21.05.2013)
‘Romsey Minster in Saxon Times’ in the Hampshire Field Club Journal 46 (1991)