Archaeologists enter "virgin territory" with dig of living quarters at Shakespeare's Birthplace

By Ben Miller | 19 January 2015

Dig expected to take four weeks at living quarters in culmination of project halted by wait for planning consent

A photo of a large landscaped garden with grass and various green features around it
An archaeological investigation is about to begin at New Place, at the heart of Shakespeare's Birthplace, as part of a transformation of the entire site© Shakespeare Birthplace Trust
New Place, the home of William Shakespeare’s family which is believed to have been his final living place, is about to be dug up by archaeologists in a move experts in Stratford-upon-Avon are describing as a key part of preparations for the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, in 2016.

Grounds to the front of the plot, explored by Halliwell Philips during the 19th century, suggested an inner family household once stood behind the gatehouse building and service range. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has now won planning consent to excavate the living quarters in an investigation which will begin on Wednesday.

“This is a hugely exciting phase in our project to unlock the hidden heritage of New Place,” says Julie Crawshaw, the manager of a project aiming to finally continue the work of Dig for Shakespeare, the three-year excavation which ended in 2012.

“This work is an essential precursor to starting work to transform the site.

“Who knows what we will find? In archaeological terms we are going into virgin territory, although of course the ground may have been disturbed by landscaping and building over the centuries since Shakespeare lived here.”

The work will be overseen by the team behind the Staffordshire University-led Dig for Shakespeare, beginning with the “careful removal” of a small mulberry tree, planted over the proposed excavation area during the 1940s.

A “contemporary landscape treatment”, informed by local residents and bodies including English Heritage, will be designed to enhance the site.

The dig is expected to take four weeks, with members of the public invited to watch from Church Street. Significant finds will be added to the Trust’s display of rare and important artefacts in the conserved and extended exhibition centre when the nearby Nash’s House reopens to the public next year.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

More from Culture24's Archaeology section:

Drones and 600-year-old timbers to help archaeologists in Anglo-Saxon Shropshire

Archaeology from Bronze Age Stonehenge country helps experts building huge record of prehistoric objects

Archaeologists find soldiers' kitchen and prehistoric remains at Hampshire farmstead
Latest comment: >Make a comment
More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
  • Back to top
  • | Print this article
  • | Email this article
  • | Bookmark and Share
    Back to article
    Your comment:
    DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted at are the opinion of the comment writer, not Culture24. Culture24 reserves the right to withdraw or withhold from publication any comments that are deemed to be hearsay or potentially libellous, or make false or unsubstantiated allegations or are deemed to be spam or unrelated to the article at which they are posted.