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Salisbury Cathedral, Wiltshire: Archaeological Evaluation and Assessment of Results

Salisbury Cathedral, Wiltshire: Archaeological Evaluation and Assessment of Results

By Wessex Archaeology

(Time Team, 2009)

Summary: An archaeological evaluation was undertaken by Channel 4’s ‘Time Team’ within the Close of Salisbury Cathedral and the grounds of Salisbury Cathedral School, Wiltshire to investigate the 13th century Bell Tower to the north of the Cathedral and the 15th century Chantry Chapel of Bishop Richard Beauchamp, both of which were demolished at the end of the 18th century.

No archaeological investigation of the Bell Tower had been undertaken before, although the Chantry Chapel had been investigated on two previous occasions, by Tim Tatton-Brown (Salisbury Cathedral Consultant Archaeologist) and the Chapter workmen in 1992 and by Cambrian Archaeological Projects Ltd in 2000. The 2000 evaluation revealed the extent of the chapel foundations and an in situ inhumation burial, first identified in 1992 and believed to be that of Bishop Beauchamp himself.

Investigation into the Chantry Chapel revealed possible evidence of the preparation of the ground prior to the building of the Cathedral in 1220 in the form of a large chalk raft, laid down to create a dry working platform and to stabilise the ground, and possible evidence of an earlier cemetery of 1219. The buttresses of the 1220 construction were revealed and were clearly disturbed by the construction of the Beauchamp Chapel. The base of the walls of the Chapel and four burials associated with the 15th century construction were exposed. The empty graves of Bishop Beauchamp and John Cheney, whose tombs had been moved inside the Cathedral when the chapel was demolished, were identified, as was a grave possibly belonging to the Bishop’s brother William. The fourth grave (previously believed to be that of Bishop Beauchamp) was investigated although the identity of the individual remains unknown.

The Bell Tower investigation revealed evidence for the early 13th century workshops or dwellings of the Cathedral workmen sealed beneath ground preparation deposits of the Tower. The Tower itself had been extensively demolished with no evidence of the worked stone facing of the walls remaining. Evidence of its later use as an inn was identified. Work within the grounds of the Cathedral School revealed evidence of structures, possibly part of 18th century stables.

Publication of the results of the evaluation is proposed, in an article to be prepared by Tim Tatton-Brown, Salisbury Cathedral Consultant Archaeologist, within the context of ongoing research into the fabric and history of the Cathedral. The place of publication is to be confirmed.

Click here to read this article from Wessex Archaeology


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