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Medieval brewery used by monks discovered in England

A medieval brewery has been discovered by archaeologists along the route of Lincoln Eastern Bypass. Network Archaeology Ltd, the company working on the site to provide new insights into the past, has teamed up with Lincolnshire Live to reveal more about the incredible artefacts - which include 150 Saxon skeletons.

Medieval brewery used by monks discovered in England
The malt kiln of what archaeologists think was a medieval brewery [Credit: LincolnshireLive]
Here, Dr Richard Moore and director Christopher Taylor continue their Find of the Week series with an ale and hearty story...

Our Find of the Week is one of the stone buildings being investigated near Washingborough Road.

When this area was stripped of its plough soil several months ago a large area of rubble was found, and it quickly became clear that this was the remains of a complex of buildings with a long history - well over 800 years.

The site was littered with thousands of artefacts such as pottery, animal bone, and roof tile, and it told the archaeologists that the buildings were mainly in use during medieval times (c.1000-500 years ago).

The team was faced with the complicated job of making sense of many overlapping and intercutting foundations of walls and floors, yards and cellars, intercut with drains, wells and rubbish pits.

Medieval brewery used by monks discovered in England
Aerial view of the excavation site [Credit: LincolnshireLive]
We know from church records that in the twelfth century the monks of Kirkstead Abbey founded a grange near Washingborough, where they farmed the land and raised sheep. The archaeologists are confident that these buildings were part of the monastic grange.

Among the more puzzling finds was a pair of rectangular structures (one shown in photo) with sloping sides of stepped-out limestones.

But what were they used for? One clue is in the smoke-blackened floor and flue (gap in the stones) on one side: the likely explanation is that hot air from a fire passed into this space, gently warming a wooden floor above, and that the buildings were malt kilns, where barley was turned slowly into malt, to be brewed into beer.

It's a happy thought for the archaeologists hard at work on the bypass that, seven or eight hundred years ago, the monks would have been there, enjoying their flagons of ale after a long hard day tending their flocks of sheep, interrupted at regular intervals by prayer and worship.

Author: Paul Whitelam | Source: LincolnshireLive [May 22, 2017]

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