Archaeological digs took place during the excavation of the Keynsham by-pass in the 1960s by the Bristol Folk House Society.
Keynsham Abbey Archaeology
There have been two major archaeological excavations of Keynsham Abbey. The first took place in 1875 prior to the building of houses on the site. The second excavation began in 1961 prior to the construction of Keynsham Bypass through the Abbey remains.
The report on the 1875 excavation refers to the known history of the site, but also covers the excavation of northern and western ends of the Abbey. As this dig was carried out part way through the excavation of the foundations for houses there are still several gaps in our knowledge of the Abbey’s layout, however the report does deal with the discovery of a portion of Saxon stonework, sepulchral slabs (some with floriated crosses “of great beauty”), besides a vast amount of “very rich” stonework.
Mr Loftus Brock (author of the report) also refers to “the Bedford Chantry”, believed to be the Chantry paid for by Jasper Tudor (Duke of Bedford and uncle to Henry VII) who was buried at Keynsham Abbey, together with the excavation of the northern aisle and the Chancel. Several medieval tiles, some coins and a large amount of stonework are also described. The author states that “The remains afford abundant evidence that the buildings must have possessed considerable architectural beauty.”
In the early 1960s a further archaeological excavation was begun in response to the construction of Keynsham Bypass through the Abbey remains. Some excavations were carried out before work began on the bypass, but much was also done once the construction company had started their work. Their permission in allowing an archaeological team on site almost every day was crucial in recovering a number of artefacts, but nevertheless detailed mapping and context was not always possible.
After the construction of the bypass, members of the Folk House Archaeological Society continued to excavate the remains contained within the boundaries of Keynsham Memorial Park until the early 1990s.
Full details of the excavations were reported in the following publications:
Journal of British Archaeological Society Vol 31 1875 – Keynsham Abbey, Somersetshire, by E P Loftus Brock Esq
Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Society for 1987 Vol 131 (Lowe, et al)
Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Society Vol 148 (Lowe, Harrison and Thurlby)
Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Society Vol 149 (Lowe)