Dig set to reveal ancient treasures

David Ingham at Quay Meadow in Lancaster
David Ingham at Quay Meadow in Lancaster
  • September dig will be first in Lancaster for over 40 years
  • Evidence shows Bronze Age activity at Quay Meadow
  • Findings could show former path of river Lune

A 2,000-year-old Saxon port and a 4th century Roman fort are among treasures which could be uncovered in an archaelogical dig in Lancaster next month.

The first ever dig at Quay Meadow, a grassy area between Lancaster Castle and St George’s Quay, follows various surveys of the land last year which have revealed exciting possibilities for the ancient use of the site.

We still don’t know exactly what we’re looking at, which is partly why this is so exciting.

Lancaster and District Heritage Group (LDHG) has secured £5,000 in funds from the Duchy of Lancaster to carry out the project, which will be the first high profile dig in the city for over 40 years, and will be led by members of the community and a Lancaster based archaeologist.

A member of TV’s Time Team is also expected to take part in the dig which will be carried out over six days between September 17 and 23.

David Ingham, the group’s treasurer, said the geophysical surveys done last year by Lancaster organisation Beyond The Castle showed lots of evidence that there was Bronze Age (2500-800BC) activity at Quay Meadow.

There is also some evidence that the river Lune took a different path and actually flowed through Quay Meadow, before St George’s Quay was built.

He said: “We still don’t know exactly what we’re looking at, which is partly why this is so exciting.

“Three different tests were carried out, which measured whether there was burnt material, metal, and whether there is evidence of disturbances of the ground or solid building structures.

“The surveys were carried out using a drone. The results showed a lot of stuff on the sites we now intend to dig, and archaeologists say it shows a third Roman fort, possibly from the 4th century.

“On Quay Meadow, there is evidence of parallel lines in a grid pattern, and suggestions are that it’s a port, which sat on the side of the river Lune.

“There is evidence to suggest that the river took a different path to the existing quay, and went over Quay Meadow.

“We already know that Lancaster was one of the largest ports in the country.”

The dig is being carried out by members of LDHG, and a group of consultant archaeologists called Dig Ventures, who will be bringing a Time Team archaeologist.

Schools are being invited to take part, and there will also be a metal detectorist on site.

There will be 18 people per day digging in three trenches, one of which will be 40m by 2m.

David added: “There is a possibility that it’s medieval, and yes, there’s always a chance that nothing will be found. But, equally, there could be something that we don’t even know about yet, because this is the first of its kind in Quay Meadow and there is obviously something down there.”