THE life of man," said the Venerable Bede, "is like the flight of a sparrow. In winter, when men are sitting in their feasting hall, a sparrow, seeing the light, flies in through the one door, across the lighted room, and out through the other door, into the darkness and storms outside. In the same way man comes from darkness, passes through a brief period of light and then returns to darkness." It is a justifiably famous passage; but while most regard its poetry, archaeologists look at the archi tecture. This is one of the crucial passages for Anglo-Saxon domestic architecture, for it describes what is evidently a usual, though specific type of building, with two opposed doors. Such halls are common in the Saxon homelands in Germany and also in the later medieval period. But where can we find them in Anglo-Saxon England?
The building that in recent years has become accepted as typical of the Anglo-Saxons is very different. This is the grubenhaus or sunken hut, a small rectangular dwelling sunk a foot or more in the ground. In places such as Mucking or West Stow these have been discovered by the dozen. Yet it is hard to see such structures as feasting halls and they certainly do not have opposed doorways. Gradually, however, larger dwellings have been coming to light. At the unpublished excavations at Old Yeavering, for instance, in Northumberland, and at Cheddar in Somerset (Med. Arch. 1964) substantial halls have been discovered. These, however, are both royal sites and must to some extent be exceptional. Thus the discovery at Chalton in Hampshire of a whole village of substantial houses has at last provided us with a suitable setting for Bede's simile.
Two people are responsible for the discovery of Chalton. Firstly, there is Mr. John Budden, the farmer who owns the land. He is a keen amateur archaeologist, and over the years he has carefully collected the pottery he has ploughed up on his farm, which covers a con-
The excavations at Chalton, 1972, seen from the air, looking South.
The excavation of an Anglo-Saxon village