Archaeology in 2023

archaeology-2023

The report on the watching brief for trench works for drainage between the grotto and the Book Office in 2023 became available just after work had been completed on the current version of the web site. This is an important area, as the castle chapel is believed to have been sited where the Book Office now is, and H. C. Brentnall conjectured that the Mound was separated from the castle by a moat. The relevant section of the conclusion of the report is as follows:

Several wall footings were encountered, particularly in the vicinity of the Book office and the Grotto. Very few dressed stones were present suggesting the walls had been robbed for useable stone down to the footings. Some of the footings were constructed of large sarsens like that seen in the Archeoscan excavations adjacent to Leaf Block, where a significant section of the bailey wall had been exposed. A few fragments of medieval pottery and stone roof shingle supported the understanding that deposits below 1m in depth in the vicinity of the Book Office may contain more medieval remains associated with the castle.

The excavation penetrated to a significant depth to the South of the Mound. No deposits were encountered that suggested the presence of a moat in this area which is contrary to the suggested plan of the castle by Brentnall. Indeed, the presence of mortar floors in this area would suggest that structures rather than a moat were located here. The large footings encountered close to the Grotto could be the remains of the postulated structures to allow access to the Mound from the Bailey.

Doubt as to whether this section of the moat existed was expressed at several points in The Marlborough Mound, published in 2022, and this is positive evidence which supports that view. It also confirms that William Stukeley’s drawing of 6 July 1723 is accurate, The map of the castle below is an amended version of H.C. Britnell’s 1938 plan. I have not attempted to conjecture the changes that may be needed to the walls at either end of the moat, which probably followed the new line suggested for the latter.