Archaeological fieldschool launched at Bradgate Park

The many mysteries of Leicestershire’s 850-acre deer park are set to be explored by University archaeologists over the next five years with the launch of a fieldschool at Bradgate Park.

The public park in Charnwood Forest, Leicestershire, best known as the location of the birth place and childhood home of Lady Jane Grey – the ‘nine days Queen’ – attracts half a million visitors annually. It is set to be the new focus of the University’s School of Archaeology and Ancient History, with academics, professional archaeologists and students working together to uncover the hidden history of this popular attraction.

Project co-director, Dr Richard Thomas explained: “In terms of an archaeological landscape, Bradgate Park is about as good as it gets. We have identified multiple sites of interest spanning the past 12,000 years. Careful excavation will not only allow us to explore the world of Lady Jane Grey and her family, but chart how people have engaged with and altered this landscape since the last Ice Age. The project will also provide a fantastic opportunity for training in archaeological practice for our students.”

The first season of excavation, which begins on Monday 8 June, will focus on a moated site identified to the west of Bradgate House, thought to be the home of the medieval park-keeper. Buildings of unknown date and purpose, located just outside Bradgate House, will also be investigated.

More than 80 archaeology students – 50 first year students in the first two weeks and 30 second year students in the next three weeks - will be on hand to explore these sites, working alongside academics and professional archaeologists from the University for the six-week long excavation.

Other sites of interest which will be explored in future years include the site of Lady Jane Grey’s house, a Palaeolithic open site – one of only a few in the United Kingdom – and an enclosure of possible prehistoric date.

The team will be hosting a free family open day on Saturday 27 June for members of the public to learn more about their discoveries at the park and there will also be an end of season excavation tour on site on Saturday 11 July as part of the Festival of Archaeology.

You can watch a video of students on site and interviews with Dr Richard Thomas produced by Pukaar News via YouTube: