Saturday, September 08, 2012

Richard III dig open day at Greyfriars, Leicester

Today I was one of more than 1500 people to visit the dig at Greyfriars in Leicester. The organisers weren't taking any chances: I counted security staff from the city council and at least two private firms. These middle-aged archaeology fans are obviously a notoriously rough crowd.

We were taken around the site in groups by an archaeologist, and I learnt much in the process. We Time Team viewers are used to the geophysics people producing miraculously clear plans of the building the diggers are seeking. The reality in urban archaeology is that the techniques reveals services like pipes, cables and gas mains, and that all the trenches have to be dug in the gaps between these.

The dig has now found the monastery and Robert Herrick's garden mentioned in my post from June. It has obviously been wonderfully fortunate in two ways.

First, the site has never been built on. There are no Victorian cellars here - indeed, it seems to have remained a garden until it became a municipal car park in the 1930s or 1940s. Second, the first trench came down precisely on the edge of the monastery's cloisters.

You can read the latest bulletin on the University of Leicester website. And the good news is that the dig, which was due to end this weekend, will continue next week.

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