Our friends at the Beyond the Castle Project (BTC) in Lancaster are WELL pleased with themselves. The team have some news and a great new project to share. Jason Wood, Heritage Consultant for BTC and dig director takes up the story:
In May 2016, our new theory about the location of Lancaster’s Late Roman Shore Fort was proved when excavations on Castle Hill, just below the Priory, revealed the corner of the fort along with road surfaces, a drain and, surprisingly, a stone-lined well set within the thickness of the 4m-wide walls.
The depth of the well is not yet known. The deeper it and the excavation goes, the more complicated and expensive the work, but the higher the chances for really interesting finds and environmental information that will help paint a fuller picture of life in Lancaster in late Roman and perhaps medieval and later times. A late Victorian OS map shows the spot marked with a pump, but we don’t yet know when it fell into disuse.
So far, only the top 1.5m of modern infill has been excavated. The real archaeology lies much lower down and at the bottom, and could be still waterlogged so that organic objects made of wood and leather may be preserved. What might we find?
WELL… if we are lucky, perhaps a bucket and rope, shoes or clothing, wooden writing tablets, votive offerings? And of course a wealth of archaeo-environmental material such as animal bones, insect remains, seeds, leaves, pollen, etc. All good stuff…
So now BTC needs to raise the necessary funds to excavate the well. The first job is to get a better idea of how deep it is and what the depth of archaeological material is likely to be.
The team hope to be able to get a handle on all this via a small bore hole. Excavating within a confined space, and at depth, is logistically a great deal more complicated than excavating in open ground. In order to ensure the Health and Safety of those working down the well, and maintenance of the well’s structural integrity, specialist engineering input will be necessary at every stage from design (legislation, methodology) to shoring, access, lighting, communications, removal of spoil, etc. Also, conservation can be very costly, particularly with organic material where treatment needs to start as soon as it comes out of the ground. There is no time to lose!
We expect the overall fundraising target to be in the region of £15,000 to cover the costs of the excavation, engineering works, post excavation and preliminary conservation of delicate finds.
The first big milestone is to raise £5,000 by the 1st December 2016. The BTC team will be grateful for ANY contributions, including monetary or in-kind such as loan of equipment, technology and engineering/design, laboratory services etc.
This will allow us to establish the depth of the well via a bore hole, secure specialist structural engineering support to develop the methodology for the excavation or the well itself, and archaeologically excavate the area surrounding the well to a depth of about 1m.
This is the essential first step in establishing the relationship between the well and the Late Roman Shore Fort.
You will receive an email from the Beyond the Castle teamacknowledging your contribution and we will confirm your incentive with you. We will post benefits following the end of the campaign, but those of you who will be joining us on site will receive your items when you arrive.
We’re here for you! All emails sent to Lucia.Marquart@lancashire.gov.uk at Lancashire County Council will be read and replied to. We’re also on Facebook and Twitter @squareroutesBTC. Our mobile number is 07887 831154.
Terms and Conditions: Because this project is crowdfunded, your campaign support is non-refundable. All funding and contributions generated via this campaign will go towards archaeological investigation within the Scheduled Ancient Monument, Castle Hill. We are pleased to confirm that Lancaster Priory Church will act as accountable body for this crowdfunding campaign.
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