LYAC visit the excavations in Bradgate Park

At the end of June, LYAC was given the fantastic opportunity to visit the University of Leicester’s new archaeological fieldschool in Bradgate Park. In its debut season, this is a major (5 year) student training and research excavation project focused on the upland landscape of Bradgate Park in Leicestershire.

The park is first documented in 1241 (as a deer park) and is known primarily as the location of one of the first unfortified brick-built aristocratic houses in England (c. 1520), which was later the birth place and childhood home of Lady Jane Grey: the ‘nine days queen’. However, recent excavations of a known late Upper Palaeolithic open site (c. 15,000 years old) situated atop the north spur of a gorge overlooking the River Lin has revealed an in situ stone tool assemblage consistent with Creswellian activity. This is one of only a few sites in the UK dated to this period and is thus of national and international significance.

This year, fieldwork has focused on a medieval moated site located to the west of Bradgate House (thought to be a park keeper’s lodge), a mysterious building in the courtyard of the House and one of the outbuildings to the south of the walled garden, possibly a stable block. To learn more about the project, check out their website or follow them on Facebook.

Richard Thomas, one of the co-directors of the project showed our young archaeologists around the site, explaining the key discoveries of the year and getting them to line up along the walls of the medieval and post-medieval buildings to show them how big the structures once were. Then we divided into four groups and rotated through a series of hands on archaeological activities, excavating in Trench 3 on the medieval moated site, site recording and planning, how to take readings with a dumpy level and finds processing. Check out the gallery of what we got up to below.

A big thanks to Richard and all the other project members who helped lead such a brilliant session, especially as they were also setting up for a very successful public open day.

We look forward to returning next year to learn all about Season 2.

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