Archaeologists return to Castle Hill to explore historic monument linked with Knights Hospitallers

From 2 - 27 September, our archaeologists working with Leicester City Council and members of the public, will return to Castle Hill Country Park at Beaumont Leys to continue exploring a large scheduled ancient monument, Castle Hill, believed to be the remains of a medieval manorial site linked with the Knights Hospitallers.

The Knights Hospitallers, or The Order of Knights of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem to use its full name, was a medieval Catholic military order founded in the late 11th or early 12th century to protect the Holy Land and provide care for sick, poor and injured pilgrims travelling there. They held several properties in Leicestershire from the late 12th century onwards, most administered from their Preceptory at Old Dalby. In England, the Order was supressed and their property passed to the Crown in 1540, during the English Reformation.

Last year, a two-week community dig on the site uncovered well-preserved medieval archaeology dating from the mid-13th century through to the late 15th century. A ditch and stone rampart, yards, and possible buildings were all discovered, along with large quantities of medieval pottery, iron smithing waste, roof slates and expensive glazed ceramic ridge tiles, all dating to the period when the Knights Hospitallers were known to have owned a manor at Beaumont Leys (between AD 1240 and 1482).

This year, volunteers under the guidance of a team of archaeologists from University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) will be on site for four weeks and plan to dig further trenches across the earthwork, to learn more about what was discovered last year and investigating new areas of the monument.

Follow this year’s dig live on Facebook to find out about the latest discoveries.

An Open Day will be held on Sunday 10 September, 10am – 4pm, as part of Leicester’s Heritage Open Days with opportunities to meet the archaeologists and see them at work, tour the site and investigate the trenches to find out what has been discovered this year, along with plenty of activities to occupy the children.