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Oakham Castle archaeological dig is taking place

An archaeological dig involving volunteers from the local community will set out to unearth hidden treasures at Oakham Castle when it gets underway next week.

The University of Leicester Archaeological Service (ULAS) is returning to the Castle to hold its latest community archaeology dig from Monday (June 10).

ULAS was commissioned by Rutland County Council to carry out the first community archaeology dig at Oakham Castle in April 2018 – funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund as part of the Castle’s wider £2.1million restoration. This year’s dig is once again funded through the National Lottery Heritage Fund.


The aim of the dig is to build on work started by Channel 4’s Time Team in 2012, and to give volunteers the opportunity to take part in a unique archaeological project, to uncover new information about the Castle’s history.

The first community dig the team found remains of two previously unrecorded buildings in the grounds, believed to have possibly been a private chamber and a stable.

Items uncovered included part of a jar lid dating back to 1839, a bone knife handle, part of a clay tobacco pipe, three lead pistol shot, copper buttons and a medieval iron knife.

Coun Lucy Stephenson, cabinet member for culture and leisure at Rutland County Council, said: “The first Oakham Castle Community Dig was a huge success, not just for its volunteer participation but also in the significance of the archaeology it uncovered.

“As relatively little remains of the castle above the ground, archaeology continues to play a really important role in furthering our understanding of the site and even small discoveries can shed light on previously undocumented aspects of the Castle’s use through the medieval period and beyond.”

Coun Stephenson added: “Oakham Castle isn’t just an important piece of history, it’s also part of our community and an immense source of pride for local people.

"This is why it’s great that volunteers can get involved in the community dig and explore the Castle in a whole new way – under the professional supervision of experts.”

The Oakham Castle Community Dig runs for two weeks from June 10, during which time access to some parts of the site will be restricted.

The Great Hall will remain open to visitors as normal throughout.

Around 50 volunteers aged between 15 and 80 took part in the 2018 Community Dig.

Together, they contributed more than 740 hours of work on the excavation and were expected to take part in all aspects of the dig, from excavation using hand tools such as trowels, brushes, mattocks and shovels, to washing and processing the finds.

All volunteer places on the Oakham Castle Community Dig have already been filled.

However, members of the public are welcome to come along and view the dig, with excavation work taking place on the following days:

-Wednesday 12 – Sunday 16 June

-Wednesday 19 – Sunday 23 June

A special Open Day will be held at Oakham Castle on June 22 where ULAS and volunteers will present their findings from the dig.

For more information about the Community Dig, please visit: www.oakhamcastle.org/archaeology or email: castle@rutland.gov.uk.

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