So what have we achieved so far?

Posted on 13 July 2013 by Mathew Morris - Fieldwork director and archaeologist at ULAS
Jon Coward cleans up the west wall of the choir with it's in situ tiles
Jon Coward cleans up the west wall of the choir with it's in situ tiles.
West wall of the choir with in situ tiles.

West wall of the choir with in situ tiles.
The dig team prepare to record some of the higher features before digging deeper.

The dig team prepare to record some of the higher features before digging deeper.

End of week 2 and halfway through the excavation and I promised Charlotte that I would sit down and actually write a blog entry. So what have we achieved so far? Well, if you've been down to the site and had a look from the viewing platform I hope you've enjoyed the visit. The sun is not helping though, as nice as it is to have summer it is baking the ground and making it harder to see the archaeology.

The aim of the excavation this year is to learn more about the 300 year old church in which Richard III was buried. Last time, because we could only looked in long narrow trenches our interpretation of how the church once looked was a bit of a join the dots together. This time, because we're looking in a much bigger area we can see long sections of both the south and north wall of the church and all the floors in between. This will allow us to better understand how Richard III's grave is placed inside the church choir.

The last two weeks have been all about removing the thick layers of modern car park, soil and rubble to reach the medieval levels; and we have now removed enough to start uncovering the church itself. Some of what we have discovered is confirming what we were speculating about last time - we now know exactly what orientation the church is running on; we have found more of the southern choir stall; we have now found the west end of the choir and can confirm that Richard is indeed buried at its very western end. We have found another fragment of Robert Herrick's 'garden' path and we have even found a small fragment of original tiled church floor still in place inside the church.

This is something I'd hoped to find but wasn't optimistic that we would as the church floors are so badly damaged. Such a discovery is important because it tells us for certain what sort of tiles decorated the floor of the choir.

We've also found evidence for a building projecting south from the southern wall of the church, perhaps a small side chapel or vestry. We will be exploring this further.

What about next week then? Well, next week we have to start recording and planing everything we've found; we have to try and unravel how the building has changed through its history; and of course there is still that stone coffin!

A sun baked dig site makes it difficult for the archaeologists to see colour changes in the soil.

A sun baked dig site makes it difficult for the archaeologists to see colour changes in the soil.

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About the blog

Keep up to date with the progress of the Grey Friars Dig Part II throughout July 2013 via regular updates on this site. The body of King Richard III was discovered here in 2012 – who and what else lies beneath this now-famous car park?


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