Every year archaeologists from Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Cultural Service (Grosvenor Museum) and the University of Chester run a training dig for the University’s second year archaeology students. The dig takes place in Grosvenor Park in Chester. The Park was chosen because it sits next to two significant historical monuments, the Roman amphitheatre and the medieval Church of St John the Baptist. Both of these have had an influence on the development of the Park and, more importantly, on the intriguing archaeology that lies beneath.

The excavation reached its conclusion for this year on October 2nd and the image in this article shows the full extent of the discoveries made as of 30 September, 2020:

• The most obvious features are the series of land drains (1) running across the trench top to bottom which we think were laid when the Park was set out in 1865-66.
• The raised area on the far right (2) is a trench extension from this year which shows a layer of demolition rubble (mainly fragments of brick, floor tile and wall/ceiling plaster) which relates to the demolition of Cholmondeley’s house during the Parliamentarian siege of the city towards the end of the Civil War. We have recovered lead shot, gunpowder flask caps and a possible musket rest from this layer.
• The raised area at the top (3) is another trench extension from this year which shows a dark charcoal rich layer which was exposed after the removal of the Civil War demolition material. This layer has produced material mainly dating to the 16th century.
• Towards the left running top to bottom, there is a more subtle linear feature (4) emerging which consists of a band of sandstone rubble bonded in clay. This represents the top of the surviving boundary wall to the medieval precinct of St John’s. It can be seen extending into the top trench extension where an in situ stone block can be seen against the trench edge.
• To the left of the remains of the boundary wall are the fills of a late medieval boundary ditch (5) which are yet to be excavated.
• The irregular shaped pit against the bottom trench edge is the result of stone robbing from an underlying sandstone structure which we think might be part of a medieval oven. The other part of which we previously found in trench IV.

To all the visitors to the this year’s training excavation we say thank you and we hope you enjoyed your time with us and learnt a little more about this previously little known corner of Chester. For those who could not make it this year do not worry we shall be back next year so we hope to see you then.

The training dig is a partnership project between the archaeologists from Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Cultural Service (Grosvenor Museum) and the University of Chester and is an essential part of the students’ archaeology degree course.

Acknowledgement: Drone Photograph: Mike Johnson 2020