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Archaeological dig under Worcester car park aims to unearth secrets of city’s past

Archaeologists will start investigating Copenhagen Street car park (WR1 2HB) next week – with the potential to unearth new discoveries on how Worcester has evolved over the past 2,500 years.

The investigation, which will be conducted by Wessex Archaeology (www.wessexarch.co.uk) from 5 to 8 October, is part of a programme that seeks to identify what important archaeological deposits exist in this historic area of the city. Its findings will help Worcester City Council to make informed plans about the future of this site.

The archaeologists will be looking for remains of all periods. Worcester's medieval city wall ran along the riverside boundary of the car park – and investigation in the 1960s found the buried remains of this defensive wall extending to a depth of seven metres. A densely packed medieval city quarter filled this area, including the documented site of Worcester's medieval Jewish quarter, before the expulsion of the Jews across England in the 13th Century.

"Finding out about a site like this involves careful, painstaking work and it's almost impossible to predict in advance what might be found," explains James Dinn, Archaeological Officer at Worcester City Council.

"The team will definitely be searching for remains of the northern defences of Worcester's Roman settlement – and there's even the potential to find signs of Iron Age settlement from over 2,000 years ago."

Worcester's Roman origins are now quite well known, but there have been hints of earlier origins. Radiocarbon dating of charcoal from burnt timbers on another part of the historic defences, in Severn Street, showed that they dated from between 750 and 400 BC, the early Iron Age.

More recently, the centre of the site was occupied by the first porcelain factory to be established in Worcester in 1751, beginning the city's long association with this industry. Waste shards from production were dumped on the riverside in huge quantities.

Wessex Archaeology's work in October will use boreholes to gain small windows on the remains across the car park, and some parking spaces will be fenced off while the work is underway. Later on, some small trenches are planned.

The car park will remain open for the duration of the excavation. 

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