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After the business of the meeting, we were treated to a marvellous talk by Professor Warwick Rodwell, consultant archaeologist to Westminster Abbey, on the fruits of recent excavations and finds.  Amongst these was a Roman sarcophagus of Valerius Amandinus which instead of being evidence of Roman occupation on Thorney island, was almost certainly an existing tomb moved from Roman Londinium.  The occupant of which was moved out to provide a resting place for an important Anglo-saxon person in Westminster (possibly Abbot Aelfwig c.1020) - the lid being re-carved with a crucifix.  


Professor Rodwell described that the Pyx Chamber in the East Cloister Undercroft was used to measure the purity of gold and silver (now done at the Goldsmith’s Hall) and is the earliest room in London dating back to Edward the Confessor who died in 1066.  The Pyx Chapel altar somehow survived the Dissolution of the Monasteries probably because of its association with gold and silver.


We heard that the small door near the Chapter House, marked 'The oldest door in the country', had been dated by Professor Rodwell and a colleague back to Edward the Confessor.  This was done partly by dendrology to age the wood panels and a study of historic ironwork.  By examining bolt and tack holes, the original style could be concluded to have had further ironwork and the whole door covered with hide and probably painted red ochre.  A fine door indeed.


Whilst clearing out 'rubbish' swept under the floor of the Triforium in preparation for the Queen's Jubillee Galleries, finds included a C17th Jack of Hearts playing card, a screwed up Virginian tobacco wrapper branded the 'Nag's Head, King Street, Westminster' from 1685-90.  Many other topics and finds were described, including Viking remains.  Professor Rodwell also touched on the history of the Cornonation Chair and the Stone of Scone, which traditionally monarchs would sit directly upon before a wooden seat was added in the C18th and finally his own nine year research into the medieval mosaic pavements in the Abbey, the only ones of their kind outside Italy.  His recent book on this project can be found here:


We are most grateful to Professor Rodwell for a memorable and stimulating talk.




The Society's 33rd AGM, 12th November 2019