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Work has been underway on several of the large development sites which surround the city centre – Lowesmoor, Castle Street, Diglis and Royal Worcester.
A new desk-based assessment of the archaeology of the Lowesmoor Trading Estate site (the 19th-century Hill, Evans vinegar works complex) identified areas of archaeological potential on the site, including the Grainger Porcelain Works, where there are well-preserved buried remains, and a large part of a medieval suburb. Following approval of the development plans, which include a supermarket and other shops, the information will be used to develop a strategy for further investigation and preservation.
Archaeological evaluation at Castle Street (the former Worcester Royal Infirmary, to be developed as a new campus for the University of Worcester, revealed extensive survival of Roman remains in an area which must be close to the edge of the Roman ‘small town’. This site, together with site of the proposed new Library, just to the south on The Butts, represents around 5% of the area of the Roman town. Much of both sites is unaffected by later development, such as the extensive medieval pit-digging and post-medieval cellars which affect much of the city centre. The sites are on the edge of the Severn floodplain, with potential for waterlogged remains, and extend up the slope towards sites such as the Magistrates Court where extensive Roman remains have already been excavated. The evaluation trenches have been too small to allow patterns to be easily seen, but there is evidence of early Roman (1st-2nd century AD) activity in parts of the site, and later Roman pits and ditches elsewhere. While efforts are underway to ensure that as much as possible of the archaeological remains on both sites are preserved below the new developments, some impact is inevitable, and there will be further investigations to provide a good understanding of the character of this very important corner of Roman Worcester.
At Diglis, trenching along the link road to Bath Road revealed only a medieval ditch, and not the expected Roman road. Most of any archaeological remains which may be present on the main development site will be deeply buried. A borehole survey was carried out, and identified an earlier channel system of the Severn, probably prehistoric in date.
The redevelopment of the Royal Worcester Porcelain sites is now well underway. At Portland Walk, investigations have revealed little of archaeological interest. However the Severn Street site has proved much more interesting. Surveys of all the 19th and 20th century buildings have been completed or are underway, and many of the later buildings have now been demolished. A programme of field evaluation by trenching is now underway.
Analysis of the very important 2005 excavation at Newport Street is underway. Some small-scale fieldwork has been needed in the area, including observation of an electrical cable connection at the western end of Newport Street, where a massive green sandstone foundation was recorded. This seems to have been associated with the medieval bridge or the riverside defences, though this remains uncertain as only part was seen.
The report on the watching brief on the resurfacing of the High Street has been completed. This scheme was initially assessed to have only limited impact on buried remains, restricted to a few tree pits. However, changed engineering requirements and the need to replace many services resulted in excavations up to 2.2m in depth and led to a long-running watching brief which ran for around a year. A sequence of metalled street surfaces was recorded, dated to the 11th to 14th centuries; there was little evidence of later surfaces as these had mostly been removed by later truncation. Where the High Street had been widened, towards its northern end, the remains of a series of cellars of medieval and later date were recorded; several of these were massively constructed of sandstone.
Buildings at 32 Sidbury and 52 The Tything have been surveyed. 32 Sidbury dates to c 1700 and retains some timber framing, and 18th century stencilled wall painting. 52 the Tything is 18th century and includes an unusual stud partition clad with mid-19th century tea-chests.
A number of interesting industrial buildings have also received attention, including an early 19th-century warehouse and part of a canalside stable complex at Diglis Road, and late 19th-century railway works buildings at Tolladine Goods Yard.
A desk-based assessment of Fort Royal Park, including the scheduled Civil War fort, has been used to develop proposals for survey, research, enhancement and interpretation works, and an application has recently been submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund for the park.
The City Defences Conservation Management Plan has been extensively revised following consultation, and will be issued soon, along with an action plan for the walls and other features.
An Archaeology Strategy for Worcester has been drafted and will be available for consultation over the summer. This relates closely to the Supplementary Planning Document on Archaeology and the historic environment, on which there will be a further consultation in the summer before it is adopted.
city archaeology office's
contact details are:
Worcester City Council
26 The Butts
721 132 (James Dinn, Archaeological Officer)
721133 (Sheena Payne, Historic Environment Record Officer)