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The mysterious medieval discovery that baffles archaeologists

Longforth Farm
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Longforth Farm

Can an entire medieval manor disappear into thin air, leaving no trace?

This is the question that a group of archaeologists from Wassex Archeology asked themselves, after reporting the discovery of the foundations of an imposing 900-year-old building, which occurred during excavations to build a new residential complex in the county of Somerset.

The excavation made it possible to bring to light parts of very valuable floors, tiles and other artefacts. But a mystery baffles researchers: what happened to the walls, doors, windows and other materials that are usually used in a large manor?

The team of archaeologists had only a couple of weeks to solving the mystery before construction of the new residential complex begins. There were no documentary records that report the existence of the structure.

Preliminary analyzes of the dating of ceramics found at the site suggest that the building was occupied for at least 200 years, between the 12th and 14th centuries. At a certain point, however, the structure was suddenly abandoned, the furnishings and furnishings were stolen and the site forgotten. So, what happened to the walls of the complex?

The discovery occurred on April 8, when the mechanical equipment of a construction company began excavation work on a plot of land located in Longforth Farm, a small agricultural county in the south-west of England. The workers never would have thought that a routine excavation would reveal a 900-year-old manor.

The construction company alerted Wassex archaeologists, who, at the request of Somerset Council, carried out an archaeological analysis of the find, prior to the construction of the new housing estate.

The construction of a large and fine medieval building like this, without any historical reference, is extraordinarily strange and mysterious.

All that remains of the imposing palace are the stone foundations and some artifacts scattered around. There is no doubt that in the past it was thieves who plundered most of the furnishings and furnishings, but archaeologists would like to understand what happened to doors, windows, stones and all that normally constitutes a building of this kind.

The excavation brought to light some very precious glazed tiles, carefully decorated, very similar to those of the nearby Glastonbury Abbey, which suggests that perhaps the building was probably used for sacred functions.

However, whoever used the building left no trace of their passage, almost as if they had vanished into thin air. Over the centuries, thousands of monastic foundations have been demolished for the construction of new buildings, but this structure appears to have been abandoned long before the dissolution of the monasteries.

It is rare for such a large complex, of high status and covering almost 0.4 hectares, to disappear without leaving any evidence in the landscape or in historical accounts.

What happened to the castle of the Middle Ages?

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