An eighth century Saxon sceatta was an exciting find for archaeologist Steve George while he was keeping an eye on the excavation of a new cable trench in Malmesbury, Wiltshire. The 1,200 year old silver coin was minted in Hamwic (Saxon Southampton) and examples are very rarely found outside of Southampton. It was probably issued by Cynewulf, King of Wessex.
The origins of Malmesbury are even older than this, dating back to the middle of the sixth century. By the seventh century an imposing abbey stood in the centre of the town. Steve found traces of this early history nearby in Gloucester Street. Two stone-lined graves were uncovered in the base of the trench. Luckily they were deep enough to be safely left undisturbed. He also spotted the traces of footpaths nearby, probably used by the Saxon inhabitants of the town when visiting the Abbey.
The trench in Abbey Road uncovered a medieval road surface, made of cobbles laid on packed clay. This is the road that brought traffic into bustling Malmesbury through the West Gate on market days.
The cable trench is being dug for Scottish and Southern Electric to link a sub-station outside the city walls to the town. Wessex Archaeology was asked to keep a watching brief on the work because of the high possibility that it might uncover further clues to the history of this ancient town.