Castle dig is on a roll now...
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the history of Lincoln Castle. Now, two archaeological digs are revealing new aspects to that story.
The first excavation, between the front and rear prison wings, has uncovered a wealth of Victorian and Georgian drainage features, which cut into older material.
Below these, a late medieval wall has been found providing an important clue about the earlier layout and use of the site.
Within the 12th century layers, there was great excitement when a fairly rare bone dice was uncovered.
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Soon, six more and a bone whistle were unearthed, along with food remains and a Roman seal box.
While the Roman box belonged to an even older period, the dice may suggest that this part of the site was being used for leisure activities.
In the lowest layers, about 4m deep, are the remains of a large Roman townhouse, probably part of a larger courtyard house to which a mosaic floor, seen in 1846, belonged.
The second dig, although much smaller, has proved even more exciting.
As the excavation reached depths below the first castle buildings, the team encountered fragments of bone and intact burials within stone walls.
One body seems to have been wrapped in textile and placed in part of the walls, perhaps as a foundation deposit when it was first built.
The site appears to be part of a Christian burial ground lying inside a structure earlier than the Norman castle, probably Anglo-Saxon.
In the side of the excavation trench is a limestone coffin with a lid. This is an enigmatic discovery.
Intact stone coffins are a great rarity in the Anglo-Saxon period and normally indicate a person of status or wealth.
An early stone church in Lincoln has always been known. Around 730AD, the historian Bede mentions a ruined stone church of "remarkable workmanship" built by a Christian missionary called Paulinus around 628AD.
Paulinus had converted Blaecca, the governor of Lincoln, and his family to Christianity, and also used the church to consecrate a new bishop called Honorius.
Could this coffin relate to any of these people or might it be someone else of similar high status? Currently, these questions remain unanswered.
Using an endoscope, archaeologists can see that there is a skeleton inside but details are hazy.
However, plans are being put in place to remove the coffin and hopefully more will be revealed when this is completed.
Below the burials, another layer contains the remains of two Roman townhouses and close to one of the walls the remains of a baby were found.
It is known from other Roman sites that babies were often buried near to houses, suggesting that the child mortality rate was quite high.
So what was intended as a small exploratory excavation has thrown up some exciting discoveries.