News: Early Archaeological evaluation work begins in Winchester

Friday 7 July 2023

Winchester City Council (WCC) has announced it is commissioning early-stage archaeological evaluation (trial trenching) as part of the Central Winchester Regeneration (CWR) programme, which will enable us to learn more about the history of this key site in central Winchester and also offer opportunities for local people to take part in some of the site activities.

The council is collaborating with Pre-Construct Archaeology (PCA,) based in Winchester, who will be working across four 8 -10m x 3m trenches – which will be between two and four metres deep – to investigate the city’s heritage below ground. These trenches will be dug in the central and eastern parts of the CWR site, areas where there is currently little information about the site’s historic uses.

The overall objectives of the evaluation process will be to

Identify and investigate significant (nineteenth-century or earlier) archaeological remains which are potentially affected by works connected with the proposed CWR redevelopment
Gain further information on the extent, date, character, state of preservation and significance at local, regional and national levels of these remains
Allow informed decisions to be taken about mitigation of the impact of redevelopment of the site

The works will aim to:

Identify and record the date and character of deposits and assess their potential to contain or conceal specific archaeological evidence
Record evidence of the Roman townscape, including street patterns
Record any evidence of the occupation in the early – mid Anglo-Saxon periods
Record evidence of the late Anglo-Saxon, medieval and post-medieval townscapes
Recover deposit samples to allow a study of the changing character of the environment and occupation on the site from the Roman period onwards
The works – which started this week – are expected to continue for approximately four months.

Throughout the duration of these works, local people will be able to learn more about what’s happening on site via a series of display information boards, as well as being offered the chance to view some of the work taking place in the archaeological trenches themselves through site tours and open mornings as well as from talks to local societies and the wider community by the archaeologists. ‘Pop-up’ labs – aimed at sharing some of the more technical aspects of the works, particularly with local university students and enlisted volunteers – will also be included.

Cllr Martin Tod, Leader of Winchester City Council, says:

“I’m incredibly excited to see this work starting. Our city has such a rich record of its history and there’s been brilliant archaeological work over the years too – but there’s still so much more to learn. I know many of us share a strong interest in our city’s past and so I am delighted that PCA’s community event programme will give people the chance to find out more about the work they’re doing and this relatively under-researched part of Winchester.

But while many of us are fascinated by our past, we also must look to our future. These works also take us one step further towards regenerating one of the most rundown parts of our city – but doing so that reflects our pride in our city’s heritage and history.”

Paul McCulloch, Regional Manager from PCA says:

“We are delighted to be able to assist the Council in finding out about the archaeology of the CWR site and in providing information that will help toward its redevelopment. The site offers a special archaeological opportunity to investigate well-preserved remains of Winchester’s Roman, Anglo-Saxon, medieval and more recent past that can be used to help in the design and setting of its regeneration.”

Members of the public will get their first chance to learn more on 26 July at an online event where PCA will be sharing details of the programme, purpose of work, what’s been happening so far. PCA will be joined by a panel of archaeology experts (the CWR Archaeology Panel) who’ll join the discussion and be available for question. Following this, there will be opportunities for members of the public to visit the site and learn more. More information will be available on the city council’s website.

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