Thursday, 22 March 2012

News - Digging for clues of the past (Southwell)

Mysterious earthworks in Southwell are set to be investigated by the town’s archaeological group.

Southwell Community Archaeology Group plans to work with Nottingham and Leicester universities and Nottinghamshire County Council to investigate the earthworks that encircle part of the town, including the Burgage.

They appear to follow Newark Road to the north then turn south and east, following Potwell Dyke, before returning to the west past the rear of Burgage Manor and Rainbows depot.

Currently nothing is known about the extent, age or purpose of the earthworks but experts believe they are not a natural feature.

Archaeology group chairman Mr John Lock said: “There has been a resurgence of interest in the origins of Southwell. In part no doubt caused by the ongoing discoveries on Church Street.

“Other exciting developments are proposed at the Archbishop’s Palace and National Trust workhouse.

“There has never been a better time for capitalising on and being part of this surge of community and professional engagement.”

Mr Lock said they could potentially be looking at Iron Age earthworks, which would pre-date the Roman settlement.

He said: “It might be that there is nothing there but let us put it to the test.”

The project will be in two parts. The first is establishing funding and research using maps and archive material.

The group then plans a detailed survey of the earthworks, a geophysical survey and digs in test pits to try to discover who built them and why.

Mr Lock said: “The objective is to identify the location and extent of the earthworks, establish their origins and purpose and throw light on their significance and relevance in the development of Southwell and its locality.”

Mr Lock hoped to involve the wider community in the project through community days.

The project is part of a wider investigation run by Nottingham University’s archaeology department, which is digging test pits around Southwell to try to discover more about its past.

More information about the project will be available at a talk organised by the archaeology group at the Old Court House on Saturday.

Rachel Hall, an archaeologist for the National Trust based at Clumber Park, will give a talk on National Trust archaeology in the East Midlands.

The presentation starts at 10am and admission is £2.50 for non-members of the archaeology group.

The former Church Street site of the Minster School is believed to contain Roman remains of national importance.

Experts believe it could have been the site of one of the largest Roman villas in the East Midlands or a temple and it was later used as a Saxon burial ground.

Medieval burials were recently discovered at Platts Orchard, just off Church Street, which could provide a continuous link in burials in the area from the Saxon period to modern times.


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