ARCHAELOGISTS excavating a medieval church in a dales village have found further evidence that the site was an Anglo Saxon settlement.

A carved section from an eighth century stone cross was unearthed during a dig at St Botolph’s field in Frosterley in Weardale this week.

The discovery was met with great excitement from the archaeologists and volunteers who were digging on the site as part of the Altogether Archaeology project.

Paul Frodsham, historic environment officer at the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership, which is leading the project, said: “This is not the kind of thing that happens every day

“What we have is the left point arm of the cross and by comparison to other crosses elsewhere we know it is Anglo Saxon. The experts who have seen it have all drawn the same conclusion.

“It is made of limestone, which is not a local stone. We don’t know for sure where it came from but it is possible it came from Whitby where there is a big Anglo Saxon monastery.”

Mr Frodsham said Frosterley was largely a post-medieval village but recent finds have suggested people lived in the area much earlier.

“The chapel dates back to the 13th century but we suspect it may have earlier origins,” he said.

“We know Frosterley used to be called Bottlingham, which is an Anglo Saxon name. What we have found during our dig is further proof.”

Launched last year, Altogether Archaeology is a three-year project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

It has already attracted more than 500 volunteers who have carried out important work at historic sites across County Durham and Cumbria.

The latest dig has inspired budding archaeologists of all ages, including youngsters from Frosterley Primary School who found fragments of medieval pottery while excavating their own trench today (Wednesday, September 25).

Ten-year-old Izzy Maddison, whose mother, Lucy Pearson, owns the field, said it had been a brilliant day, adding: “I really enjoyed digging and finding all the things.”

Jamie Armstrong, project archaeologist at Durham University, accompanied Mr Frodsham and the volunteers on the dig and said it was wonderful to see people engaging with the past.

“I really enjoy working with volunteers as they are always so eager to learn,” he added.

Other finds include a section of the 13th century chapel’s font carved from Frosterley marble.