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Archaeologists uncover hidden church at Lincoln Castle

1,000 year old remains uncovered at Lincoln Castle

Archaeologists digging under Lincoln Castle have made contact with the remains of a previously unknown church that is at least 1,000 years old.

Archaeologists uncover hidden church at Lincoln Castle

The earliest find was a cemetery with several skeletons, associated with the remains of two stone walls. Further investigation revealed more burials, including at least one stone coffin. As explorations continue, it seems that the remains all belong to a stone church built after the Romans left and before the Norman conquerors came.

Beryl Lott, historic environment manager for Lincolnshire County Council, said: “This is a very exciting discovery. Our knowledge of the site between the end of Roman period and when the castle was built is very scant.

Archaeologists uncover hidden church at Lincoln Castle

“While the discovery was totally unexpected, it is well known that other Roman walled towns often contained some form of high-status use during the Anglo-Saxon period.

“This will greatly increase our knowledge not just of the castle, but of uphill Lincoln as well. It’s a major find and we look forward to future developments.”

The finds were made three metres down from today’s ground level in a small area (3x3m metres) being excavated by the archaeologists for the construction of a lift shaft. Along one side of the excavation the limestone coffin with a lid mortared in place can be seen.

The earliest stone wall discovered runs on the opposite side of the excavation, where there was another extraordinary find: the bones of a person laid inside a niche in the wall foundation.

The bones were originally wrapped in a finely woven textile - the tiny impressions of the cloth could be seen on the mortar of the wall. This looks like a ‘votive deposit’ and may be the relics of a holy person placed inside the wall to dedicate the building.

The archaeologists will now be using radiocarbon dating to try and refine the date of the remains, which they expect to be 10th century or earlier.

The archaeologists are also digging near the prison where another rich historical sequence from the 19th century back to Roman times is being investigated. These results - which are hugely enriching Lincoln’s history - will form part of a final exhibition at the castle.

Meanwhile the public are welcome to visit and view the excavation near the prison, which also employs local volunteers.

For more information on the all the improvements happening at the castle, please visit the Historic Lincoln web page listed below.

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Last updated: 18 November 2013

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