ARCHAEOLOGISTS and students are working together on a month-long excavation designed to unearth vital clues to the history of Chester’s Grosvenor Park from the Roman period to the Civil War.
Led by Simon Ward, a senior archaeologist with Cheshire West and Chester’s Historic Environment Team, the ‘dig’ will provide a key training experience for students on the University of Chester’s Archaeology programme.
It is the third joint exploration of the park which holds rich potential for the local ‘ time team’ because it has remained undeveloped for centuries.
This year’s project will focus on a trench at the eastern end of the park near St John’s Church, in the grounds of the former Lord Cholmondeley’s mansion, badly damaged during the Civil War.
Whilst revealing information related to the medieval church building and grounds, the excavation hopes to provide more information about post medieval and Roman activity uncovered in excavations from the last two years.
In 2007, a 2nd-century AD Roman road running in the direction of the Roman Amphitheatre was identified in the Park.
And last year, a trench near the Vicar’s Lane entrance revealed demolition material from buildings dating back to the 17th and 18th-centuries, plus musket balls and lead shots, possibly related to Civil War activities, and pieces of decorated clay pipes and pottery.
Said Simon: “It is impossible to know what we will find- but that is part of the attraction of a excavation in what for archaeologists is virgin territory yet close to the sites of two known important historical buildings.
“It will undoubtedly add to our knowledge of the history of this very important part of Chester.”
For 20 archaeology students, the four-week dig involves training all aspects of excavation from photography and recording to processing environmental finds.
Dr Meggen Gondek, Programme Leader for Archaeology at the University, said: “This local fieldwork is very important for our students, as it gives them a chance to put their theoretical knowledge into practice, and allows them to work closely with the professionals at CWAC’s Historic Environment Team who know so much about the archaeology here.
“We have an extremely rich archaeological heritage in Chester and it is important for us to see the city as the result of many different people’s lives over the Centuries. Each find and archaeological feature tells us a story.”
An open day will be held in Grosvenor Park on May 29 from 10.30am to 3.30pm, when visitors will be given guidance on what the trench has revealed and the methods used in archaeology. They will also have a chance to talk to the archaeologists and students about the site.