Excavation at Old St Mary’s Church, Stoke Mandeville, continues

The old St Mary’s Church dates back to 1080. Image copyright HS2.

HS2’s archaeology team are sharing discoveries made while working at Old St Mary’s Church in Stoke Mandeville. The site is considered unique and many finds – including unusual stone carvings and medieval graffiti – have been made.

The site is being carefully surveyed and removed by a team from LP-Archaeology, working with HS2’s enabling works contractor, Fusion-JV. Over the next six months a team of 40 archaeologists and engineers will work at the site.

Built in 1080AD, shortly after the Norman conquest, it was renovated in the 13th, 14th and 17th centuries. A new church was built in the 1880s and the original site fell into disrepair.

The burial ground will be disinterred; around 3,000 burials are expected when the graveyard is fully excavated. The burial ground at St Mary’s was in use for 900 years, with the last recorded interment in 1908.


Dr. Rachel Wood, Project Archaeologist for Fusion JV, said:

“The excavation of the medieval church at St Mary’s will offer real insight into what life was like in Stoke Mandeville for over nine centuries. Those buried there will be remembered once again and the lives they lived over 900 years understood.

“The best way to honour the dead is to understand their stories and how they lived their lives. Ultimately, this is what the works at the site of Old St Mary’s church will do, providing a lasting legacy to the present community of Stoke Mandeville.

“We are hoping to have a field museum event to show people what we have found and share the history of the area.”


See the HS2 page about Old St Mary’s Church at https://www.hs2.org.uk/building-hs2/archaeology/st-marys-church/