Archaeologists and volunteers have uncovered some exciting ancient objects during a community dig at Ruardean Castle.
The discoveries were made by community volunteers led by Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service as part of the Heritage Lottery Funded Foresters’ Forest Buried Heritage project.
The Foresters’ Forest project has enabled the first known archaeological excavation of the Scheduled Monument, about which very little information exists. It’s also meant that local people who volunteer through the Foresters’ Forest programme have been able to experience an archaeological dig close to home.
It is thought that Ruardean Castle was probably first constructed sometime during the 11th century and then replaced by a fortified manor house in the 14th century. A map of 1608 suggests that it may have been abandoned and fallen into ruin by that date. The site sits on a hill behind the church, with only the remains of a tower now visible. The project will help to build a better picture of the castle’s history and how extensive the site is, ensuring that it can be protected for future generations.
The first four days of investigation completed last weekend saw four small trenches opened up. These uncovered walls, floors and a ditch all of which seem to have been associated with the castle. These include an outer (curtain) wall which is thought to have lain at the core of the site. Other walls appear to represent internal structures and a possible gatehouse.
Volunteers have also discovered finds relating to the occupation of the site, including pottery, glazed roof tile and a fine key that is thought to date from the last years of occupation of the site. Iron slag and animal bone have also been found. Over the second four days the team hope to reveal more of the walls and other remains and recover further finds to help date the castle.
Senior Project Manager at Worcestershire Archaeology, Robin Jackson, said: “This has been a brilliant opportunity for local people to uncover the secrets of Ruardean Castle and learn more about archaeology. We now have a better picture of what the site would have actually looked like, and what medieval life was like here in the Forest of Dean.”
Members of the public can visit the site for an Open Day between 11:00am-3:00pm on Sunday 28th October 2018 which will include site tours and exhibitions.
The dig site is located in a field at the end of the walking track next to Ruardean Church. Please be aware that parking in the village is limited.
You might be surprised what you find!
From creating habitats for our wildlife or improving our waterways, to recording oral histories or finding old photos, there’s always something going on to get involved in!