Thornton Abbey Excavation Project

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Welcome to the Thornton Abbey Project website.

On this website, you can find results, pictures and information about the ongoing excavation and survey project at Thornton Abbey, North Lincolnshire, run by the Department of Archaeology at the University of Sheffield.
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Recent News



The 2013 excavations season has now begun!

This year we are focusing our efforts in three main areas: the high status medieval abbot's lodging, features in the central precinct, and a large mound near to the gatehouse, possibly the location of a large medieval building.

Click here to find out more.

Thornton Abbey

The site of Thornton abbey, located in north Lincolnshire, contains a fascinating and little understood history.

The Augustinian priory founded here in 1139 was once one of the richest houses in England. After the dissolution, the land was eventually acquired in 1603 by Sir Vincent Skinner. He demolished many of the church buildings and constructed a new mansion situated near to the still-standing medieval gatehouse. Unfortunately, this mansion reportedly collapsed shortly after its completion, and further, smaller conversions and temporary structures appeared and disappeared on the land over the next 400 years.

Despite having one of the largest and best preserved monastic enclosures in the country, enclosing approximately 29 hectares, relatively little work has taken place at Thornton Abbey. Over the next few years, staff and students from the Department of Archaeology at the University of Sheffield will be building on recent past work, with geophysical and topographic survey leading to the targeted excavation of identified features. In this way, we hope to unravel more about the site’s complicated but interesting past.

Use the links above to explore work from our current and past excavation seasons, including video diaries, photo galleries and preliminary results from last year's work.