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UCS participates in 2nd dig at Shrewsbury Castle

The 2020 dig will build on the success of the first dig and answer questions that arose from the 2019 project. The team will excavate a trench on the grassed slope of the western rampart overlooking the drive close to the Great Hall.

This years’ dig will again be led by Dr Nigel Baker and is a partnership project between Shropshire Council, University Centre Shrewsbury, Shropshire Museums and the Castle Studies Trust.

The dig will take place from 1 to 18 September and will allow for social distancing and other COVID-19 safety measures to be in place to keep the dig team, staff and visitors safe.

Shrewsbury Castle reopened after being closed during lockdown on 25 July 2020.

The Castle grounds will remain open to visitors to witness history being uncovered and ask the team questions from a safe distance. In 2019, 4,500 people visited the Castle and were actively engaged with the dig team.

Dr Nigel Baker, said: 

Last years’ dig was a great success revealing the hidden history of the castle that we could only have dreamt of and it gave us the appetite to find out more. We’re delighted to be coming back.

“Shrewsbury Castle still remains little explored yet is one of the most historically significant sites in the UK. We hope this years’ dig will help us further develop our understanding of this Grade 1 listed Norman site and answer some currently unanswered questions.”

Professor Tim Jenkins, Head of Group (Arts & Humanities) at University Centre Shrewsbury, said:

“Dr Capper and I are delighted that University Centre Shrewsbury students are, once again, able to assist in exploring one of the county’s most significant historical landmarks and deepen our understanding of Shrewsbury’s rich and unique architectural heritage.”

Jeremy Cunnington of the Castle Studies Trust, said:

“The Castle Studies Trust is delighted to support the excavations at Shrewsbury Castle for a second year following last year’s exciting discoveries. As one of the most important fortresses in the Welsh Marches, as well as the least understood, we are really looking forward to seeing what Nigel and his team discover this year.”

2019 dig – What did we learn?

When Shrewsbury Castle was built it was extremely strongly fortified to a degree not previously understood. The Norman motte (the great earth mound) was originally surrounded by a massive defensive ditch which filled up to two-thirds of the lawn in front of the Castle that we see today.

We also learned that there was an Anglo-Saxon presence on the site of the castle even before the Normans invaded in 1066.

Immense damage was caused to the medieval castle remains by Thomas Telford during his ‘restoration’ of 1786-1790 for the then MP of Shrewsbury.

Two arrow heads or crossbow-bolt heads were discovered. Both of these were ‘bodkin’ type arrows: sharp, square-edged heavy points designed to pierce armour. These arrows were clearly for military use and not for hunting.

Shrewsbury Castle

Shrewsbury Castle is a Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM) and is one of the oldest SAMs in the country. It is also a Grade 1 listed building and was first listed by Historic England in 1953.

The Castle is one of the best-preserved, Conquest-period earthwork castles in England, but is also one of the least well-know. No excavation work has taken place within its current perimeter. Because it escaped rebuilding, it is unusually well preserved.  

Castle Studies Trust

The Castle Studies Trust, founded in 2012, is a registered charity (Reg No: 1148165). The Trust awards individual grants of up to £10,000 to promote the understanding of castles in the UK and abroad. So far it has awarded over £130,000 of grants to further the understanding of castles. It is funded entirely by donations from the general public.

University Centre Shrewsbury

Now in its sixth year, University Centre Shrewsbury was created as a partnership between the University of Chester and Shropshire Council. It offers a high quality, personalised education and research across a broad range of academic disciplines in the beautiful medieval town of Shrewsbury.  


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