Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ampthill Park

I hope you don't mind me going 'off-piste' for a post...from natural history to archaeological history, in fact! It's always been known that there used to be a castle in Ampthill Park, most famous for the time when Katherine of Aragon was residing/being detained (!) there whilst her divorce to King Henry VIII was being finalised down the road at Dunstable Priory. But there never have been any archaeological excavations of the shovel & trowel (& JCB) variety carried out to confirm just what this castle/palace looked like. So there's a lot of excitement in Ampthill at the moment as a team started digging 4 trenches this week, an excavation that will culminate on Ampthill's bi-annual Aragon Day a week on Saturday. The funding includes a local community element, and I took the opportunity to volunteer a few hours this morning.

I was really excited at what we might find. Yesterday the stonework above was uncovered...probably a bit of late medieval doodling!

During this early part of the dig, we focused on an area in what was probably the inner courtyard of the castle. This was my 'tray' after a mornings work. The items in the main consist of half a cow!!

But this little piece of pottery was fascinating. I unearthed it in the bottom of the trench and, at first glance, it's believed to be the bottom of a pottery vessel of some kind, probably the sort that was used to bring wine from the Rhineland in the late 16th/early 17th century! Wow, Indiana Jones eat your heart out!

I can't wait to see what turns up, and I'll try to go over the Park when I can to catch up with the progress of the dig. There will be an on-site talk each day at 4pm by one of the archaeologists, but they don't mind anyone wandering up and asking questions. So do visit if you can find the time.

What I'm hoping for is concrete evidence for a castle on site that goes right back to Norman's hoping!

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