Eighty volunteers set to join archaeological dig to help uncover lost Bishop's Palace

PUBLISHED: 12:40 05 September 2009 | UPDATED: 09:14 02 June 2010

Wisbech Castle

Wisbech Castle

EIGHTY volunteers are set to join an archaeological dig and help uncover the history of the lost Bishop s Palace at Wisbech. Thanks to a £50,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, plans have been drawn up for a community dig to locate the footprint of

EIGHTY volunteers are set to join an archaeological dig and help uncover the history of the lost Bishop's Palace at Wisbech.

Thanks to a £50,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, plans have been drawn up for a community dig to locate the footprint of the Palace on the historic Wisbech Castle site - and the volunteers will join the expert archaeological team.

Extensive geophysical surveys have already identified a number of locations in the castle gardens which will provide the starting points for the excavations, which will be carried out between Wednesday, September 16 and Tuesday, September 29.

The Bishop's Palace occupied the town centre site from 1478 until 1656. It was built by Bishop Morton, later Archbishop of Canterbury and Chancellor of England, was enlarged and modified by subsequent Bishop's of Ely, and its most important claim to fame was its use as prison for Roman Catholics from 1580. For over 30 years, priests and other Roman Catholics were held at the Palace.

Whilst it is known that the Palace was built of brick with facings of Ketton stone, its size, layout and exact location are unknown and it is hoped that this detailed investigation and archaeological excavation will provide some answers.

Children from 17 local schools will also be on site taking part in a programme of activities and youngsters will also be involved in an art competition organised by Cambridgeshire County Council's Library Service.

County Council Cabinet Member for Communities, Councillor Sir Peter Brown, said: "Wisbech originated on this site and this project will greatly enhance knowledge of our history and enable local people, particularly all local schoolchildren to be closely involved."

During the dig, the site will be open to the public from 10.00-3.00 pm daily and 12.30-3.00 pm at the weekend. A viewing area will enable visitors to see the progress and the Wisbech Tourist Information Centre is co-ordinating an evening visit to the site on Wednesday, September 23.

In addition, a children's storytime session has been arranged between 12.00-3.00 pm on Sunday, September 20, which will be combined with an explanatory tour of the excavation, other children's activities and medieval re-enactors.

For more information, contact Wisbech Castle Manager and archaeology project co-ordinator Geoff Wilkinson on (01945) 585096, or by e-mail at: Geoffrey.wilkinson@cambridgeshire.govuk


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