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12th century castle discovered in England

Archaeologists working in Gloucester have discovered the remains of a 12th-century castle. The find was made on the site of a former prison.

Photo by Mark Price / Cotswold Archaeology / Twitter
Photo by Mark Price / Cotswold Archaeology / Twitter

Cotswold Archaeology announced the find on their website yesterday. They believe the castle was built between 1110 and 1120, and “was a large structure, with the keep, which we have now located in our work, an inner bailey and stables. The keep was surrounded by a series of concentric defences which comprised curtain walls and ditches, with the drawbridge and gatehouse lying outside the current site to the north.”

The keep is believed to have been 30 metres long and 20 metres wide, and had walls as thick as 12 feet. Neil Holbrook, chief executive of Cotswold Archaeology, told the Western Press Daily, “I am surprised by what we found. I knew there was a castle but I had expected more of it to have been destroyed.” He added the size and design would have been comparable to the Tower of London. “It would have been a powerful symbol of Norman architecture,” he said. “As you came to Gloucester you would have seen the cathedral and the castle, which is representative of how important the city was in Norman Britain.” 

The archaeologists have so far discovered nearly 900 objects, including medieval pottery and a six-sided die made of bone.

It was believed that the castle had been destroyed in the 18th century when a prison was built on the site, but it seems that the gaol was built over the medieval structure.  The prison was in use until 2013 and is set for redevelopment. News of the discovery is leading to calls that the site be preserved. Paul James, Leader of Gloucester City Council explained to the Gloucester Citizen, “Whatever is done on site needs to be sensitive to the heritage of both the castle and the listed buildings there. We are fortunate that we have a developer that cares about the heritage of the site. Having glass flooring above it, allowing visitors to see through might be a possibility. The most important matter is to preserve it well, the walls have been here for hundreds of years and we want them here for hundreds more.”

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