The excavation, run by Chester City Council’s Archaeology team, in conjunction with the university, provides a key training experience for students on the programme. The dig began on the 21st of April and will run daily, Monday to Friday, until the 16th of May.
The trench is located near the Vicar’s Lane entrance to the park and is designed to provide more information about post medieval and Roman activity uncovered in excavations last year. In 2007, a new Roman road was identified in this area, which runs underneath the park in the direction of the Roman Amphitheatre. This road dates to the 2nd century AD.
Lying on top of the Roman road are many other features relating to the period before the park was laid out in the 18th century. These include a substantial amount of building rubble from post-medieval buildings, land drains and fragments of brick foundations, which may be all that is left of former buildings here. Site director Simon Ward, Senior Archaeologist for Chester City Council said: “The dig has started really well. The students are already uncovering fascinating evidence dating back to when the site was part of the grounds of Lord Cholmondely’s mansion, which was badly damaged during the Civil War.”
There have been several exciting finds so far including a largely complete window pane, with glass, that had been smashed probably in the 17th or 18th century. A musket ball embedded into the pane suggests why and how it was destroyed. Amongst other musket balls and lead shot, there have also been pieces of decorated clay pipes, part of a 15th or 16th century glass flask and an Elizabethan coin.
Councillor Eric Plenderleath, city council Executive Member for Culture and Community explained: “These training excavations follow last year’s digs, which helped to inform a Conservation Management Plan for the area as part of a funding application to the Heritage Lottery`s Parks for People programme. Grosvenor Park is turning out to be a hidden archaeological gem and I am delighted that we are continuing to provide learning opportunities to the University of Chester. I thank the students for the enthusiastic and professional way in which they are carrying out this project.”
Whilst on site, the archaeology students receive full training in all aspects of excavation from photography and recording to excavating delicate materials. “Our students really gain from having this local field experience to complement their lectures and other fieldwork conducted over the course of their degree,” says Dr Meggen Gondek, Programme Leader for Archaeology at the University of Chester. “Chester’s archaeological heritage is a fantastic resource and it is particularly important for archaeologists in training to work with professionals such as the team from Chester City Council’s Archaeological service.”
Work continues on site until the 16th of May and visitors to the park are welcome to stop at the site to see how the dig is progressing.