places by selective trenching, with more extensive excavation in critical
areas where trees or other obstructions were absent. Despite these
restrictions, it has been possible to achieve our main objectives to a
greater degree than might originally have been anticipated.
DESCRIPTION OF THE REMAINS
It will assist in following the detailed descriptions if a summary of
the main conclusions regarding the architectural development of the Priory
is stated in advance:
Period I. The earliest remains were those of a
twelfth-century aisled cruciform church of which parts of the west end,
north aisle, crossing piers, transepts and a fragment of the presbytery have
been uncovered. The chapter house immediately adjoining the south transept
was also of this period.
Period II. A rebuilding of the nave and
enlargement of the north transept took place early in the fourteenth century
in the Decorated style and a reconstruction of the claustral buildings seems
to have occurred about the same time.
Period III. Subsequently, the early presbytery was
replaced by one of much greater length. Only rubble footings of this
remained with no architectural details to indicate its age more precisely.
The Norman Church
The constructional features of this period were of a consistent
character wherever the twelfth-century work could be examined. Walls were of
ragstone rubble rendered inside and out, with dressings invariably of Caen
stone. This ashlar was well laid with thin mortar joints, the dressed faces
exhibiting the close diagonal tooling characteristic of Norman masonry
towards the middle of the twelfth century whereas in earlier work the joints
are wider and the tooling much coarser. Wherever two walls joined at
right-angles they were bonded together with squared blocks of Caen stone. In
the area of the church, fragments of scalloped capitals were found, none in
situ, and in some cases re-used in later construction.
At the south end of the west front a twelfth-century buttress
remained, partly embedded in later work (Plate IA). Its faces were of Caen
stone ashlar bearing the characteristics previously mentioned. At its
north-west corner was a nook-shaft with a base of shallow profile and the
ground plinth was moulded (Fig. 2, no. 1). Part of this plinth was
returned northward indicating that the Norman west front coincided within a
few inches of the later rebuilding. The moulding suggests that the treatment
of the original front must have been of a