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ABINGDON ABBEY AND MINSTER

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The Saxon monastic complex. The earliest monastery was founded at Abingdon circa 675 by Hean. It was probably both a minster and Benedictine foundation. By the mid 10th century the church was in a ruinous state having been destroyed by the Danes in the previous century, although the monk's cells and chapels were intact. In 954, St Ethelwold was commanded to refound the monastery by King Eadred. By 977, the church was recorded as having a porticus-chapel on the North, and by the late 11th century another on the East. The church appears to have had a central tower, for this tower collapsed one night in 1091, the monks taking refuge in the chapter house, perhaps South of the church. Records also suggest that there also appear to have been a cloister, refectory, dormitory and kitchen in Ethelwold's time. The cloister, chapter house and dormitory were pulled down in 1100. Excavations in 1922 provided a limited exploration of the pre-Norman monastic buildings. Re-examination of the excavation records allowed the following conclusions to be drawn: There is probably a complete 7th century monastery South and West of the Norman cloister. There is a large and probably quite well preserved Saxon church with apsidal chancel under the Norman church. There should be a centrally-planned church or addition of the 10th century somewhere in the vicinity, together with monastic buildings of the same date. The Saxon cemetery may have lain South of the Norman nave. (see SU59NW5 for the Mediaval abbey).

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