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Archaeologists find traces of Gloucester’s medieval castle

Archaeologists from Cotswold Archaeology have uncovered traces of Gloucester’s medieval castle in Gloucester, England.

The castle was first constructed during the Norman period as a simple motte and bailey. Over the centuries, various additions and periods of reconstruction extended the footprint of the castle, which by the 13th century became a royal residence for nobility and English kings.

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Between the 15th century and 17th century, the castle went into decline and much of the stonework from the fortifications were used to construct roads and buildings within the city centre, leaving only the keep which was used as a gaol (prison).

In time, the keep was considered to be unsuitable and its demolition began in 1787, leaving no visible remains of the castle.

Image Credit : Cotswold Archaeology

During development works in the south-west of Gloucester city centre, archaeologists from Cotswold Archaeology have uncovered traces of the castle beneath the basketball court of the former HMP Gloucester.

A number of trenches revealed medieval structural remains that archaeologists have interpreted as forming part of a masonry causeway or bridge structure. This provided access to the castle across its inner defensive ditch and continued north-east onto Castle Lane.

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Excavations also found subsequent demolition and robbing of stonework, evidenced by the infilled castle ditch, and comprised cultivation soils of the Castle Gardens, which occupied this area from the later 18th century through to the mid-19th century.

In addition, a stretch of Post-medieval wall relating to the gardens was identified, which corresponds to a boundary shown on early and mid-19th century maps.

According to the archaeologists: “The results highlight that significant archaeology continues to survive at a relatively shallow depth, enabling us to trace historic land use and landscape change within this part of the city across many centuries.”

Header Image Credit : Cotswold Archaeology

Sources : Cotswold Archaeology

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Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.
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