Excavations of the Anglo-Saxon monastery in Cookham

Speaker: Dr Gabor Thomas

Tue, 6 Dec 2022

About the lecture:

The location of the 8h century monastery in the Berkshire village of Cookham, on the banks of the Thames, was a mystery until now, despite being well known from contemporary historical sources. Written records show it was placed under the rule of a royal abbess: Queen Cynethryth, the widow of the powerful King Offa of Mercia.

The excavations at Cookham Church Paddock this summer have produced much of great interest to see, not least the discovery of a cemetery that is likely to be associated with the monastic settlement. In addition, there is evidence of a trackway from the river with the floors of domestic buildings to each side, and boundary ditches indicating that the site may be much larger than originally thought. The wealth of finds on an undisturbed AngloSaxon settlement will require several more seasons to explore and understand.

Our lecturer: Dr Gabor Thomas

Associate Professor, University of Reading

Dr Thomas Gabor has spent his career directing the excavation of Anglo-Saxon settlements, and has a special interest in personal adornment and other forms of artistic expression as a window on social identity and cultural interaction in later Anglo-Saxon/Viking Age Britain


  • Archaeology Unit of Assessment Lead for Research Excellence Framework 2021
  • Director of Studies, Archaeology MA Programme
  • Archaeology representative,¬†Reading Graduate Centre for Medieval Studies (GCMS)

Areas of Interest:

  • Early medieval rural settlements and landscapes
  • Early medieval religion and monasticism
  • Early medieval objects and identities, with a particular interest in ornamental metalwork and dress accessories
  • Cultural interaction in Viking age Britain and Ireland

Compared to other historical periods, little is known about the early medieval era and it is often referred to as the ‘Dark Ages’. Being able to use archaeology to shed light on this elusive period is what Dr Gabor Thomas finds so exciting and he is now inspiring the next generation of archaeologists through his early medieval research and teaching.

Visit: Dr Gabor Thomas University of Reading