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Archaeologists explore medieval manor linked with the Knights Hospitallers

University of Leicester archaeologists have returned this month to Castle Hill Country Park at Beaumont Leys to continue exploring a large scheduled ancient monument, Castle Hill, believed to be the remains of a medieval manorial site linked with the Knights Hospitallers.

Volunteers and University of Leicester archaeologists excavate a medieval manor site at Castle Hill Country Park, Beaumont Leys. Photo credit: ULAS/Mathew Morris

Last year, a two-week community dig on the site uncovered well-preserved medieval archaeology dating from the mid-13th century through to the late 15th century. A ditch and stone rampart, yards, and possible buildings were all discovered, along with large quantities of medieval pottery, iron smithing waste, roof slates and expensive glazed ceramic ridge tiles, all dating to the period when the Knights Hospitallers were known to have owned a manor at Beaumont Leys (between AD 1240 and 1482).

This year, volunteers under the guidance of a team of archaeologists from University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) will be on site for four weeks and plan to dig further trenches across the earthwork, to learn more about what was discovered last year and investigating new areas of the monument.

Part of a mid-13th century ridge tile decorated with a ‘double-horn’ crest found during excavation at Castle Hill. Photo credit: ULAS/Mathew Morris

Mathew Morris, Project Officer for ULAS said “Last year’s excavation was so successful, this year we are excited to be back for a longer, four-week, dig, which will allow us to explore much more of the site. Big questions from last year’s dig that we want to answer include, how important was the site in the medieval period? The large amount of good quality pottery, and the presence of roof slates and glazed ridge tiles, suggests that there was a building of some status on the site. This year we hope to find more evidence of this building. We also want to investigate an enigmatic earth mount in the centre of the site? We discovered last year that it might be deliberately built and may have a stone kerb running around its base. Could it be a Bronze Age barrow, or a medieval windmill mound? We want to find out.”

The dig began last week and runs to 27 September. To find out more about the history of the site and what was found last year, please visit: https://www2.le.ac.uk/services/ulas/discoveries/projects/medieval/castle-hill-in-search-of-the-knights-hospitallers

Follow this year’s dig on Facebook to get updates about the latest discoveries at: https://www.facebook.com/ulasnews/

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