Category Archives: ENGLAND

Excavation Unearths Traces of 16th-Century Mansion in England

Excavation Unearths Traces of 16th-Century Mansion in England

Excavations undertaken by Warwickshire’s Wessex Archaeology have discovered one of the UK’s best-preserved late 16th century gardens ever discovered.Archaeological investigations have revealed the remains of Coleshill Manor and an octagonal moat, aspects initially spotted by aerial drone images.

As excavations progressed, the remains of a massive garden dating from the very early 17th century were discovered, alongside the manor house.

Experts now believe after marrying an Irish heiress, owner Sir Robert Digby built his home in the modern style, in addition to lavish formal gardens measuring 300m (1km) from end to end, to flaunt his new-acquired wealth and consequent social status.

The hitherto-unknown gardens have been exceptionally well-preserved, and include gravel paths, planting beds, garden pavilion foundations and ornaments organised in an innovative geometric layout.

HS2’s Historic Environment Manager Jon Millward said the site has parallels to the iconic ornamental gardens at Kenilworth Castle and Hampton Court Palace.

Archaeology news: HS2 excavations have unearthed Elizabethan answer to Hampton Court.
Archaeology news: Sir Robert Digby built his home in the modern style

He said in a statement: “It’s fantastic to see HS2’s huge archaeology programme making another major contribution to our understanding of British history.

“This is an incredibly exciting site, and the team has made some important new discoveries that unlock more of Britain’s past.”

Wessex Archaeology’s Project Officer, Stuart Pierson described the discovery as a career-high.

He said: “For the dedicated fieldwork team working on this site, it’s a once in a career opportunity to work on such an extensive garden and manor site, which spans 500 years.

Archaeology news: The hitherto-unknown gardens have been exceptionally well-preserved

“Evidence of expansive formal gardens of national significance and hints of connections to Elizabeth I and the civil war provide us with a fascinating insight into the importance of Coleshill and its surrounding landscape.

“From our original trench evaluation work, we knew there were gardens, but we had no idea how extensive the site would be.

“As work has progressed, it’s been particularly interesting to discover how the gardens have been changed and adapted over time with different styles.

“We’ve also uncovered structures such as pavilions and some exceptional artefacts including smoking pipes, coins and musket balls, giving us an insight into the lives of people who lived here.

“The preservation of the gardens is unparalleled.

“We’ve had a big team of up to 35 archaeologists working on this site over the last two years conducting trench evaluations, geophysical work and drone surveys as well as the archaeological excavations.”

Excavations have also revealed structures believed to date back to the late medieval period.

This includes structural evidence attributed to the large gatehouse in the forecourt of the Hall with its style and size alluding to a possible 14th or 15th century.

Archaeology news: Excavations have discovered one of the UK’s best-preserved late 16th century gardens ever discovered

Dr Paul Stamper, a specialist in English gardens and landscape history, believes that, as a whole, the site is of the utmost archaeological importance.

He said: “This is one of the most exciting Elizabethan gardens that’s ever been discovered in this country.

“The scale of preservation at this site is really exceptional and is adding considerably to our knowledge of English gardens around 1600.

“There have only been three or four investigations of gardens of this scale over the last 30 years, including Hampton Court, Kirby in Northamptonshire and Kenilworth Castle, but this one was entirely unknown.

“The garden doesn’t appear in historical records, there are no plans of it, it’s not mentioned in any letters or visitors’ accounts.

“The form of the gardens suggest they were designed around 1600, which fits in exactly with the documentary evidence we have about the Digby family that lived here.

“Sir Robert Digby married an Irish heiress, raising him to the ranks of the aristocracy.

“We suspect he rebuilt his house and laid out the huge formal gardens measuring 300 metres from end to end, signifying his wealth.”

Couple uncover 18th century lime kiln under ‘neglected heap of rubble’ on their land

Couple uncover 18th century lime kiln under ‘neglected heap of rubble’ on their land

Couple uncover 18th century lime kiln under 'neglected heap of rubble' on their land

An unsightly heap in the corner of a North York Moors field has revealed a well-preserved historic limestone kiln, thanks to a collaboration between the landowners, the National Park Authority and a local archaeology company.

The find has delighted Elaine and Dave Newham, who had little idea as to what the untidy mound on the edge of their land was hiding. Elaine said: “It was completely neglected, just a heap of earth covered in discarded stones, bushes and nettles.

“It was marked on an old map as a kiln so we knew that’s what had been there, but we had no idea if anything was left of it.”

While researching the types of grants available for farmers and landowners in the National Park, Elaine saw that funding was available through the Farming in Protected Landscapes scheme to help conserve historic structures, as well as to enable more people learn about them.

Through this scheme, the North York Moors National Park was able to provide a grant of just over £12,000 to support the excavation work.

The trees and vegetation were cleared and experts from Staithes-based company Quercus Archaeology set to work carefully investigating the mound, which measured around 300m2.

This revealed a well-preserved section of the kiln’s main firing chamber, lined with handmade bricks, and a stokehole (the mouth of the kiln) from which the fire would be fed with fuel.

The kiln will have once produced lime to improve the local farmland, most likely during the 18th century. After transportation from a nearby limestone quarry, the raw product would be fired in the kiln to produce lump lime (also known as quick lime), before being dispersed over a field.

Located on the Scarborough edge of the North York Moors, the site is now undergoing a more in-depth investigation, with hope the structure can be restored as an educational asset for the benefit of the local community. New trees have also been planted nearby, to replace those removed at the start of the project.

Dave Arnott, Farming in Protected Landscapes Officer, said: “While lime kilns are not an unusual sight in the North York Moors landscape, they remain an important link to our agricultural and industrial past. It’s fantastic that Elaine and Dave want to conserve this heritage for future generations and can see the site’s potential.

Stephen Timms, Director of Quercus Archaeology said: “I’ve been an archaeologist for 30 years and it never ceases to amaze me what is just under your feet. We weren’t expecting to see such a well-preserved kiln under what looked like a big pile of rubble.

“It has been great to be involved in such a positive project which not only adds to our understanding of rural life on the North York Moors but also helps Elaine and David contribute to the local community as part of the Farming in the Protected Landscapes scheme.”

Elaine continued: “It’s been so exciting to see what’s emerged, a very worthwhile process when you think that it could have stayed as it was and been lost. Quite what’s next for our kiln, you’ll have to watch this space!” You can explore the lime kiln for yourself on Sketchfab.

Possible Roman Oyster Processing Site Found in England

Possible Roman Oyster Processing Site Found in England

A suspected Roman oyster processing site has been unearthed on the banks of the Humber Estuary.

Possible Roman Oyster Processing Site Found in England
The oysters are believed to have grown naturally on shell reefs

The Environment Agency said the discovery was made during flood defence work near Weeton in East Yorkshire. A team from York Archaeology chanced on the find close to what they think was an early Roman settlement.

Oysters were prized by the Romans with some reports suggesting they played a key part in Julius Caesar’s decision to invade Britain.

Sea defences and mudflats under construction between Outstrays and Skeffling on the north bank of the Humber

According to the agency, large quantities of “misshapen oyster shells” were found, supporting the theory that they grew naturally on a shell reef rather than being grown on ropes, which was a common practice at the time.

Jennifer Morrison, the agency’s senior archaeologist, said: “It was truly amazing to find the evidence of this early oyster processing site during our dig.

“We know that, at this time, oysters would have been plentiful and that they were a staple part of the diet.

“We also know that British oysters were prized by the Romans, and it is quite possible that some of these oysters found their way back to Italy.”

For the last three years, the agency has been realigning sea defences to provide 250 hectares of new wet grassland, saltmarshes and mudflats to replace land being lost to human activity on the north bank of the estuary.

Today, oysters – natural filters, which keep the water clean as they absorb carbon and release oxygen – are being reintroduced to the Humber once again as part of the Wilder Humber partnership, comprising Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust and energy company Orsted.

The oyster reefs will help protect the coastline from erosion by stabilising the seabed and absorbing wave energy, the agency said.

People can learn more about Roman and medieval finds at a new exhibition, which runs each Wednesday and Saturday until 22 June at Hedon Museum.

Bronze Age burial chamber discovered on Dartmoor, England

Bronze Age burial chamber discovered on Dartmoor, England

Excitement has been felt among archaeologists over the discovery of a Bronze Age burial chamber on Dartmoor, which may provide fresh light on Devon’s prehistoric past.

This “enchanting” discovery could rival the significance of the 2011 find at Whitehorse Hill, where the remains of a young woman dating to circa 1700 BC were discovered.

The previous discovery was hailed around the world for its revelations about life in the early Bronze Age, and there are high hopes that the latest find will be just as enlightening.

Found in a secluded area to prevent tampering, the site’s exact location remains undisclosed. Peat erosion allowed for the discovery, which revealed what appears to be a Bronze Age cist or type of ancient coffin.

Dr. Lee Bray, a leading archaeologist involved in the excavation commented, “We have every potential for this to be something quite special,…. We don’t know for certain if this is a cist, but it certainly looks like one. All the evidence we have points to it being a cist from the early Bronze Age,” reports Devon Live.

The peat around it is waterlogged, meaning any clothing or artifacts inside could be very well preserved.

The Whitehorse Hill burial was preserved in this manner, and precious artifacts including the pelt of a brown bear, 200 beads, a copper alloy pin, and a variety of other grave goods were discovered, explains the Dartmoor National Park page.

Dr Bray said there were three options – to leave it where it is and let nature take its course, to try to halt the erosion or to excavate.

He dismissed the first option as irresponsible archaeology and noted that simply halting erosion wouldn’t eliminate the risk of air exposure damaging the contents. “They are deteriorating slowly as we speak,” he warned.

The Dartmoor National Park Authority is backing the excavation efforts, having set aside £90,000 from its reserves.

Given the site’s remote location, away from accessible roads, specialized equipment such as helicopters and laser scanning tools are required to safely remove and transport the burial chamber.

Also, this project is not only a significant step forward for local archaeology, but it could also benefit the larger historical community by providing a rare glimpse into the lives of those who walked these moors thousands of years ago.

Archaeologists uncover secret 19th century steelworks furnace, hidden near Sheffield city centre

Archaeologists uncover secret 19th century steelworks furnace, hidden near Sheffield city centre

Archaeologists uncover secret 19th century steelworks furnace, hidden near Sheffield city centre
The crucible furnace was uncovered during the first few weeks of a 10-week dig by archaeologists at the site

Archaeologists have uncovered new evidence of Sheffield’s industrial heritage during recent excavations at the site of the city’s castle. Undocumented remnants of a 19th Century steelworks were found during work in the area once home to Sheffield Castle.

Experts at Wessex Archaeology said the findings highlighted the role steel had played in the city’s development. The team is carrying out a 10-week dig at the site as part of the council’s plans to redevelop the Castlegate area.

Their work has revealed the remains of the steelworks’ crucible furnace, which is not recorded on contemporary maps.

The furnace cellar was reached via a set of curving stairs also unearthed during the dig

As well as helping the archaeologists to better understand the layout and workings of the furnace – which would have been used to refine blister steel into higher quality crucible steel – the team said they had uncovered several clues about the people who operated it, and the working conditions at the steelworks.

With temperatures reaching 1200C, the firing process was “unpleasant and challenging”, say experts.

The team said they had found the letter ‘H’ scratched into the brickwork on the walls of the crucible cellar and posited whether it was “the initial of someone who toiled in the cellar day in and day out”.

The initial H carved into the brickwork may be a reference to someone who worked in the cellar
Archaeologists believe a concealed hole in the brickwork was used as a secret hiding place

The archaeologists also uncovered a hole in the wall which had been dug out and then concealed with another brick.

They said they believed this to be “someone’s secret hiding place”.

Ashley Tuck, the archaeologist leading the dig, said: “These remnants of Sheffield’s industrial past not only remind us of the role steel working played in the growth and identity of this city, but also encourage us to consider the people behind it – who would, by modern standards at least, have worked in an unpleasant and challenging environment.”

Sheffield Castle once dominated the city, but was demolished during the Civil War

Castlegate is the oldest part of Sheffield and has been inhabited since at least the 11th Century. Mary, Queen of Scots, was imprisoned for 14 years at the castle and at Manor Lodge in the 1500s, under the care of the Earl of Shrewsbury.

The castle complex was destroyed in 1648 during the English Civil War. The remains were covered by Castle Market in the 1960s, with the only visible evidence of the original castle found in basements of the complex.

The indoor market was demolished in 2015, allowing excavation work to begin. Members of the public have been joining in with the current dig with further opportunities for people to get involved in May.

First Complete Roman Funerary Bed Found In Britain

First Complete Roman Funerary Bed Found In Britain

During an excavation near the Holborn Viaduct in London, UK, archaeologists discovered a remarkably rare Roman funerary bed. This find, according to MOLA archaeologists, is the first complete funerary bed ever found in Britain.

Roman lamp, glass vial and beads from a cremation burial.

The bed was crafted from high-quality oak with intricately carved feet and joints secured by small wooden pegs. It appears to have been disassembled prior to its placement within the grave and may have served as a vehicle for transporting the deceased to their final resting place.

Researchers speculate that it was likely intended as a grave good for use in the afterlife. Tombstones from various locations within the Roman Empire often depict images of the departed reclining on similar couches.

This site, as indicated by the presence of a funerary bed, served as a burial ground during the Roman era (AD 43-410). Excavations revealed not only skeletal remains but also personal artifacts like a glass vial and luxurious jewelry adorned with jet and amber beads.

A beautifully crafted lamp featuring an engraved image of a vanquished gladiator was also discovered. This design likely dates back to Britain’s early Roman period, around AD 48-80!

Archaeologists excavate one of the medieval timber wells.

“We know the Romans buried their dead alongside roads, outside of urban centers. So, it was no great surprise to discover burials at this site, which during the Roman period would have been located 170m west of the city walls and next to the major Roman road of Watling Street.

However, the levels of preservation we’ve encountered – and particularly uncovering such a vast array of wooden finds – has really blown us away,” MOLA’s Project Officer Heather Knight said.

Reconstruction of the funerary bed.

Finding wooden artifacts at archaeological sites is unusual. However, thanks to the damp mud along the River Fleet, these items have been remarkably preserved. The site has unveiled not just a Roman funerary bed but also an array of intriguing wooden objects from its later years!

First Complete Roman Funerary Bed Found In Britain
The funerary bed.

In addition to these findings, excavations revealed another cemetery on this site dating back to the 16th century. This could potentially be linked to the nearby St Sepulchre’s church.

Following the Great Fire of London in 1666, this area underwent a transformation with new residential structures, commercial establishments, and even a pub being built – all of which were eventually replaced over time.

Scientists will continue researching and analysing all these amazing finds. These studies will reveal many new details about the people who lived, worked, and were buried here over the past 2000 years.

Young Boy Discovers Rare Ancient Roman Treasure In Sussex, UK

Young Boy Discovers Rare Ancient Roman Treasure In Sussex, UK

Children are often curious by nature, and they tend to pay attention to things adults would not even bother looking at.

The world of archaeology has seen numerous remarkable discoveries made by young enthusiasts, and 12-year-old Rowan Brannan is the latest addition to this list.

While on a walk with his mother Amanda and dog in the Pagham area of Bognor, Sussex, Rowan stumbled upon an extraordinary artifact. He spotted a rare gold Roman bracelet in a field, adding yet another significant discovery to the rich tapestry of archaeological finds.

Young Boy Discovers Rare Ancient Roman Treasure In Sussex, UK
Left: Rowan, from Bognor, Sussex, found the ‘exceptionally rare’ gold treasure during a dog walk in the Pagham area. Credit: Amanda Kenyon / SWNS
Right: The Roman bracelet of armilla type has since been studied by the British Museum. Credit: Amanda Kenyon / SWNS

“Rowan has always been into finding all sorts of bits and pieces, he’s very adventurous and is always picking stuff up off the floor,” his mother Amanda says. Rowan brought the object home and researched whether it was genuine gold. It fulfilled all the requirements on his checklist, but neither he nor Amanda realized its true significance until a visit from their hairdresser.

The hairdresser mentioned she was attending a metal detecting event, prompting Rowan to share about his recent discovery. Intrigued by the find, she took a photograph and later showed it to the leader of her metal-detecting group. Recognizing its antiquity, he advised that Amanda and Rowan contact a Finds Officer for further evaluation.

Rowan’s ancient Roman treasure. Credit: British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme

Rowan described how the excitement kept building over the months following his discovery.

“We took it to the jeweler and that got me a bit excited, and when it was sent away and it was like “gold” and then it got more exciting. Then it got to the treasure process,” Rowan said.

The Finds Liaison Officer was very interested, and the bracelet has been examined by the British Museum.

Experts have identified the object discovered by Rowan as a Roman armilla bracelet dating back 2,000 years. In the Roman Empire, bracelets were typically worn by women as an indication of their social status. Men generally did not wear bracelets due to their association with femininity.

However, there were exceptions for soldiers with exceptional bravery or merit. A Roman general would publicly award these individuals armilla bracelets; the soldiers wore them as badges of honor.

The item in question is a fragment, not a complete circular bangle. Its value lies in its age of over 300 years, and it is made from a precious metal. After evaluation, Rowan was informed that such an artifact is extraordinarily uncommon for someone to stumble upon during a casual dog walk.

Amanda further expressed her excitement about the discovery: “It’s been brilliantly fascinating. We have learnt so many things, and it is quite lovely to still be involved so we can follow its story. It’s like, wow—imagine who wore that. We have had a piece of history in our house.”

It is, without doubt, a wonderful discovery, and who knows what will happen in the future. If Rowan keeps picking up objects, he may soon find something more of archaeological value!

Medieval Lincoln imp found in hidden trapdoor above toilet

Medieval Lincoln imp found in hidden trapdoor above toilet

Medieval Lincoln imp found in hidden trapdoor above toilet

Tracy and Rory Vorster living in Lincoln, England, have discovered a trapdoor in their bathroom with a grotesque face bearing a striking resemblance to the local icon, the Lincoln Imp.

An imp is a legendary creature from European mythology that resembles a fairy or a demon and is widely mentioned in superstitions and folklore. It was first used in phrases like “imps of serpents,” “imp of hell,” “imp of the devil,” and so forth starting in the 16th century.

The Lincoln Imp, a carved stone grotesque with cow ears, cow horns, taloned hands, and a hirsute body with crossed legs, sits atop a pillar overlooking Lincoln Cathedral’s Angel Choir. He is a tiny little guy (approximately 30cm high), but he has made a big impact on the city.

He seems to have been adopted as their unofficial mascot. Probably carved in the 13th century.

The endearing little devil became the subject of legends. According to one story, Satan sent him and an imp friend to wreak havoc in northern England.

When an angel appeared out of a hymn book and turned the most rebellious, rowdiest imp to stone, they were in Lincoln Cathedral smashing stained glass, destroying furniture, and bullying the bishop.

Vorster couple removed the wooden panel, it revealed a large slab of stone featuring a carving of the Lincoln Imp. 

There was an opening in the mouth that indicated it was either a urinal or some kind of drain. An expert from the Lincoln Civic Trust confirmed the first impression upon examination: it was a drain dating to the middle or late 14th century.

The Vorsters’ house is on Vicar’s Court, a building founded by the college of priests in the 13th century in the Minster Yard just south of the cathedral.

According to the BBC, the couple moved into their property earlier this year.

They said the discovery is an example of why Lincoln is “amazing”, adding they are “proud” of their house’s history.

Tracy and Rory Vorster were surprised to find a hidden trapdoor as they scrubbed their bathroom.

Mrs Vorster said: “You look at the outside of the house and that is historical enough but to now find something inside is amazing.”

Mr Vorster added: “The whole of the house has kind of a hollow walling, so we immediately thought there could be more. In fact, we’re almost certain now.

“The previous occupant had been here for over 20 years, so surely they knew. But we had absolutely no clue it was there.”