Winchester Archaeologists Expecting Historic Finds At Dig

By Ben Miller | 08 January 2008
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A picture of workmen studying a plot of earth under tarpaulin and scaffold covers

A 10-strong archaeology team started work in Winchester this week. Pic © Wessex Archaeology Ltd

“There’s a lot of interest in the town,” admits Paul McCulloch. “As soon as anybody starts any sort of archaeological excavation lots of people want to turn up and start asking questions.”

The Project Manager for the latest excavation to take place in Winchester has good reason to expect public intrigue. The Jewry Street spot his Wessex Architecture team started digging up this week is at the historic core of the Hampshire city, where archaeology has prevalently revealed remnants of its significant Roman and medieval past.

“The excavation team of 10 will be on site until the end of February, by which time we expect to have investigated around 300 cubic metres of archaeological deposits ranging in date from the Iron Age and right up to the 19th century,” explains McCulloch, who is excited at the prospect of investigating the disused street.

“As well as the remains of streets and buildings, we expect to recover large quantities of finds and environmental remains that represent and characterise economic activities and resource exploitation.”

A picture of earth with surveyors in hard hats and poles surrounding it

Saxon, Roman and medieval finds are on the cards. Pic © Wessex Archaeology Ltd

Pottery, animal bone, plant and seed remains and industrial residues are among the finds McCulloch anticipates, and he feels the greatest potential of the site is to uncover development of the late Saxon town, with a Roman street projected to run through the site.

Formerly a bicycle shop and most recently an off-license, the planning application for commercial development to replace the previous building was first submitted five years ago. “We warned them that there’d be quite a lot there,” says McCulloch, whose commissioners are obliged to explore the archaeological scope of the land.

“Unusually, we have secured a strategy that saw the piled foundations of the proposed development go in the ground before the excavation. This will allow us to maximise the extent of the excavation and work safely below ground and at some depth below the adjacent road and buildings.”

The workmen will be putting up display boards in front of the site and displaying information in the Discovery Centre opposite.

“We want to bring the site to people’s attention. We felt it was opportune that the centre should have the display panels as well, so that people weren’t just reliant on standing on the edge of the site with traffic roaring past them,” says McCulloch. “We’ll put the information up on the hoardings and in the discovery centre. It’s warmer there, as well.”

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