As far as we know, the history of Nottingham Castle is a well documented tale of royal sieges, civil rebellions and dedicated reconstructions. However, as currently being unearthed by the team of archaeology students, enthusiasts and professionals digging into the castle grounds, there could be lot more history yet to be discovered.
Laura Binns, one of the Community Archaeologists leading the dig, explains that the current work being done is a detailed exploration into the gardens and grounds of the Castle ruins, from the 20th century allotments, to the Georgian garden layer, right down into the Medieval layer soil below.
She goes on to describe that her primary focus with this project will be to determine the size, layout and style of the Ducal Palace gardens that were designed during its construction in the late 1670’s. In a smaller excavation carried out the year previously, evidence was found of some decorative botanical box hedges, prompting the team today to expand on this discovery, and to find out what else was planted there.
The volunteers currently working on this City Council funded project are a rotating mixture of student workers on placement, eager Nottinghamshire residents, and experienced members of the Trent and Peak Archaeology contractor service – all of whom are passionate about uncovering all the secrets the Castle grounds have to offer.
On Saturday, 16th July, the Castle even hosted a Family Fun Day where children and their parents were invited up to the dig site to try their hands at a bit of excavating, and were taught by the team how to trowel, dig, sieve and clean their own archaeological findings.
So far, Laura and her team have found some fascinating artefacts buried in the Castle soil, from some Medieval clay smoking pipes, to a mammal’s jaw bone, and a surprising number of oyster shells…all of which give us a little bit more insight into what life would’ve been like in the 1600’s!
And especially with the weather drawing us all outside right now, there’s no better time to be out in the sunshine, trowel in hand and hidden treasures to be discovered. We’ll also be checking back in with the Archaeology team in a couple of weeks, as they near the end of the dig, to see what exciting things they’ve found!
If you have any questions you would like to ask the archaeologists or their volunteers about the Castle and its buried history, the dig will be going on for the next 3 weeks, so you are very welcome to pop down and say hello!