Archaeological Work at Worcester Castle
by Mike Napthan
Thursday 30th April 2015
Many of the inhabitants of Worcester are unaware that they ever had a castle! This was the surprising start to a very interesting talk given by Mike Napthan to the Vale of Evesham Historical Society on the evening of 30th April. Mike, an experienced archaeologist, has been involved for a number of years in excavations at the castle.
The castle stood immediately south of the cathedral overlooking the river, and the site is now mostly covered by the premises of the King’s School. Built by the Normans, it seems to have had quite a bijou tower (only 16 feet in diameter) built on the mound, the small tower being a feature quite common, apparently, in castles of the Welsh Marches. Its builders seem to have appropriated land belonging to the Cathedral to erect the structure, but the castle was returned to the Church at the time of the interment of King John, who had always had a soft spot for the city, in the Cathedral.
Excavations have yielded very little in the way of Norman artefacts, though those artefacts that have been found comprise, as well as medieval items, prehistoric, Roman and Saxon remains.
Most astonishing of all, however, is the fact that the whole cathedral site is included within the boundary of a massive iron-age fort, discovered during excavations on the site of the Salmon’s Leap pub. A section opposite the Worcester Porcelaine Museum, was excavated recently before being demolished to make way for extensions to the School. Post holes dating to the 5th Century BC which held massive trees have been excavated along a 55 metre length of rampart. The finding of the iron-age rampart confirms speculation – raised during excavations further north within the city by Philip Barker during the 1960s – that there was an enormous fort by the river at Worcester.
This was a fascinating talk followed by a lively question and answer session.