A team of archaeologists have begun the process of uncovering the remains of a long-lost Tudor Garden here at Sudeley Castle.

Five exploratory pits were dug in a field immediately next to the castle which is usually used to graze horses. Initial findings over the weekend included fragments of post-medieval pottery, masonry and animal bones. These findings are consistent with garden archaeology, and a mound in the middle of the field, which was thought to be a Tudor banqueting house, has now been identified as a consolidated platform built to house a temporary structure on top. This is similar to other temporary gardens and features of the period associated with Elizabeth I’s progress around the country celebrating the defeat of the Spanish Armada.

It is thought to be the most significant archaeological investigation on the estate since the discovery of Roman villas in Victorian times.

A group of visitors surround one of the dig sites

Experts will now analyse samples of earth and other materials from the dig event to determine dates when the site was used and to further determine what may have once been there.

Our General Manager, Wendy Walton, said: “We had a fantastic weekend making the first investigatory digs to reveal Tudor secrets that have remained hidden underground for hundreds of years. Our expert archaeologists believe they have indeed found the remains of a long lost Tudor garden, which we are all immensely excited and pleased about. We are now planning a much bigger archaeologist investigation of the site next May which will be crowdfunded and we would like to invite members of the public to get involved.”

Diggers armed with spades stand around dig site

A team of archaeologists from social enterprise company, DigVentures, carried out the dig, and best-selling historical novelist, Dr Philippa Gregory, also attended over the weekend.

Philippa said: “Sudeley is a fascinating site. It was always one of the most treasured by the Tudor monarchs and as such housed those closest to the crown. Lavish banquets, with dozens of guests and many courses would have been common there. I can’t wait to see what else this excavation can tell us about life there.”

Our Head Gardener, Stephen Torode said: “This is hugely exciting and a very important chapter in the history of Sudeley Castle – it is certainly the most significant event in terms of the gardens since the 19th century. It’s not every day that you get the chance to help discover a long lost Tudor garden.”

Anyone interest in joining next year’s larger, crowdfunded excavation can register their interest by joining DigVenture’s email list at www.digventures.com.

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