geophysical survey and trial trenching at St. Michael and All Angels

Staffordshire – Archaeological investigations begin at St. Michael and All Angels

Geophysical survey and trial trenching to begin

St. Michael and All Angels is a beautiful Grade I listed Church located in Penkridge, South Staffordshire.

Report 2: Geophysical survey detects possible archaeological remains »

The site of the current church is of great antiquity and the first church was probably founded in the 10th century and may originally have been established as a minster church.

During the Saxon period a minster church functioned as a mission centre serving a diocese and the presence of one in Penkridge during this period suggests the presence of a congregation being served by a community of clergy.

Documentary evidence from the 16th century suggests that the church was founded by King Eadred who ruled between 946 and 955 AD. 

As an important ecclesiastical centre with an attached community of clerics, the grounds of the church would have been occupied by a number of other buildings such as dormitories, storehouses and kitchens to serve the needs of the resident clerics and this complex would have been enclosed within a boundary which is probably now fossilised in the current line of the roads around the church.

As little is known archaeologically about the early history of the church and its grounds, the Parish of Penkridge has commissioned a programme of archaeological investigation in the area to the north of the church.

This work will be divided into two stages:

1) Geophysical survey

Firstly, a geophysical survey using a method known as Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) will be undertaken. GPR survey records reflected radio waves that are pulsed into the ground as a radar antenna is dragged along the ground surface. Changes in the ground make-up, such as from soil to stone, provide conditions where some of the transmitted energy is returned to the surface. In this way, subsurface features such as buried walls, can be mapped.

Once the data recorded on site has been processed using computer software a ‘map’ of any buried archaeological features will be produced.

2) Trial trenching

The second part of the archaeological investigation will involve trial trenching. Put simply, a number of small trenches will be excavated targeting buried features which have been detected by the GPR survey.  The purpose of the trial trenching will be to establish the date, significance and nature of any archaeological remains which are present to the north of the church.

In commissioning these archaeological investigations, the Parish of Penkridge has provided a wonderful opportunity for us to throw light on the earliest origins of the Church of St. Michael and All Angels.

Regular updates to follow

The archaeological work will be managed and co-ordinated by Commercial Archaeology Ltd, a Staffordshire based heritage consultancy, and there will be regular updates on the progress of the work on this website and social media pages.