Archaeologists in England Unearthed a Long-Lost Monastery Presided Over by a Powerful Anglo-Saxon Queen


September 24, 2021


Archaeologists from the U.K.’s University of Reading have discovered the site of an ancient Anglo-Saxon monastery that was ruled by a royal abbess, Queen Cynethryth.

Cynethryth is believed to have taken over the monastery after the death of her husband, the Mercian King Offa, in the year 796. The two are believed to have ruled together, with the famed King Charlemagne addressing them jointly in his surviving letters. She is the only woman of the period to be depicted on a coin, a sign of her power and influence.

The 8th-century monastery was located in the present-day Berkshire village of Cookham, on a gravel island along the banks of the River Thames. Excavations on what is now the grounds of Holy Trinity Church have uncovered timber from the former monastery buildings, as well as artifacts left behind by its inhabitants, including a bronze bracelet, a dress pin, and pottery cooking vessels and food remains.

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