Unmasking an Ancient Church in the Trent Valley

September 26, 2023 by Jane Ewing

In the summer of 2020, Professor Ed Simons of the Royal Agricultural University identified Anchor Church along a backwater of the River Trent in Derbyshire, as the site of a 9th century monastic cell, probably the oldest intact domestic interior from the Anglo-Saxon period in the UK.  The caves were probably constructed from a natural cave formation and much enlarged for the deposed former Northumbrian King Eardwulf, who died around 830CE.

In 2021 the site was badly defaced by vandals using spray paint.

In July 2023 the Transforming the Trent Valley (TTTV) Partnership led a project to have the paint graffiti removed.  Specialist conservators were brought in who carefully removed the graffiti without damage to the fabric of the sandstone caves themselves.  The project was coordinated and overseen by TTTV’s Cultural Heritage Officer, Dr Mark Knight,  “This successful outcome is the culmination of almost two years of work finding the funding, a specialist team with the knowledge and equipment to perform the task, and liaising with planning officers, Universities, and archaeologists to ensure the right outcome was achieved.  Today is a good day for the monument.  This outcome shows how effective team and partnership working can be.”

Future work at the site will include information and interpretation boards, highlighting their national importance. Anchor Church is a listed building and protected by law, with penalties including fines or prison sentences for any defacing of the monument. You can watch the process of graffiti removal on our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NR_LOiLLg-E

For more information about the TTTV project visit www.thetrentvalley.org.uk


Editor’s Notes

Interviews are available with Dr Mark Knight, Cultural Heritage Officer and reporters are welcome to view our sites to find out more. Please call Mark Knight 07790 342474 or Louise Morris 07792 559926 to arrange.

Transforming the Trent Valley A revitalised and treasured landscape of wildlife-rich waterways and wetlands is being made possible thanks to the ‘Transforming the Trent Valley’ scheme successfully securing a large grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund in December 2018 to deliver a multi-million pound scheme in the Trent Valley across 200km in Staffordshire and Derbyshire. This area covers the Trent Valley from Rugeley, through Alrewas to Derby, The Tame Valley from just north of Tamworth to its confluence with the Trent at Croxall, and Dove River Valley between Derby and Uttoxeter. Transforming the Trent Valley is a partnership project of 18 organisations working together to restore and enhance the natural and cultural heritage of the Trent Valley, with Staffordshire Wildlife Trust at the helm. More details can be found at www.thetrentvalley.org.uk.

Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, a registered charity, www.staffs-wildlife.org.uk is the lead partner for the Transforming the Trent Valley Landscape Partnership Scheme. It is the leading nature conservation body in the County. Staffordshire Wildlife Trust protects and enhances our wildlife and wild places and promotes involvement, enjoyment and understanding of the natural world.  With the support of over 19,000 members, it manages over 30 sites covering over 4,000 acres and including sites of international, European and national importance. As part of The Wildlife Trusts, the Trust is the local face of the largest organisation in the UK concerned with the conservation of all forms of wildlife.

The National Lottery Heritage Lottery Fund www.heritagefund.org.uk. Using money raised by the National Lottery, we inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future. Follow @HeritageFundUK, @HeritageFundM_E on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLotteryHeritageFund

Anchor Church-credit Paul Morris

Anchor Church-credit Paul Morris