Archaeologists at the University of Reading have launched a project to search for evidence of Cynethryth, one of the most powerful Anglo-Saxon queens in Britain in the 8th century AD.
Cynethryth was a queen of Mercia, wife of King Offa and mother of King Ecgfrith.
She is the only Anglo-Saxon queen whose name was struck on coins (possibly in reference to the Byzantine Empress Irene) and was even associated with her husband on maps.
After Offa’s death in 796 AD, Cynethryth took religious vows and became abbess of a monastery in Cookham, near Maidenhead, England, HeritageDaily writes.
Cynethryth, one of the most powerful Anglo-Saxon queens
In August 2021, archaeologists led by Gabor Thomas of the University of Reading announced the discovery of the monastery on the site of Holy Trinity Church.
During the Anglo-Saxon period, a network of more than twenty monasteries was established along the Thames from its source to its mouth, but almost none of these sites has been the subject of archaeological investigation.
In a three-year excavation, the team plans to conduct a comprehensive investigation of the monastery in hopes of finding evidence of the lost queen.
A window into a crucial period in English history
The team also hopes to find more details about the layout of the monastery buildings and objects that will shed light on the daily lives of the people who lived there.
“This once-mighty abbey lay hidden for centuries, so it offers an excellent prospect for discoveries that could shed light on Anglo-Saxon life in a relatively unexplored region of England.”
“This will be a valuable opportunity to open a window into a crucial period of English history and give tomorrow’s archaeologists a chance to practise their skills and potentially play a leading role in one of the most exciting current archaeological excavations in Britain.”