Barbican Car Park Redevelopment: Archaeological Investigations

Archaeology and Development

A detailed study of the archaeology within the development site has previously been compiled. In addition, archaeological investigations within the site and the immediate area have identified the potential for the survival of Roman and medieval archaeology typically between 1m and 2m below the former car park surface. These include the Roman defensive town wall, Roman buildings and houses, Anglo-Saxon and medieval deposits, including elements of a Norman motte and bailey castle and the ditches of a later 12th-century castle.

The new development has been designed to generally avoid damaging the underlying archaeology by raising the ground levels prior to building works commencing. Where this hasn’t been possible, a team of archaeologists from Cotswold Archaeology is undertaking a series of archaeological excavations particularly in the area at the junction of Commercial Road and Ladybellegate Street, but also close to Barbican Way.

Roman defences identified 2m below the modern ground surface during previous evaluation trenching
Roman defences identified 2m below the modern ground surface during previous evaluation trenching
View of the ongoing works for proposed new car park off Barbican Way
View of the ongoing works for proposed new car park off Barbican Way
General view of the ongoing excavations off Commercial Road
General view of the ongoing excavations off Commercial Road
General view of the ongoing excavations at the junction of Commercial Road and Ladybellegate Street
General view of the ongoing excavations at the junction of Commercial Road and Ladybellegate Street

The earliest archaeological deposits identified during the current excavations are a series of pits that are most probably contemporary with the Norman motte and bailey castle. These were then sealed by a capping layer of thick clays. A similar clay deposit has previously been identified throughout the Barbican area of the city, and in particular beneath the Blackfriars precinct immediately to the east suggesting it was laid down before the construction of the Blackfriars complex in the mid 13th century.

Later medieval and post-medieval activity had largely been truncated during the construction of buildings along the Ladybellegate Street and Commercial Road frontage in the 19th and 20th-centuries. However, a series of pits next to Ladybellegate Street contained artefacts associated with either the dissolution of Blackfriars and its transformation into Thomas Bell’s mansion in the mid 16th-century, or most probably dating to later, 18th century, alterations to the mansion house. Medieval floor tiles, lead window came, as well as medieval jettons and strap ends were recovered from these pits, along with clay tobacco pipes.

Medieval floor tiles: from top left, clockwise: Severn Valley tile (mid/late 13th-century), Bredon tile (late 13th to early 14th-century), Malvern Chase tile (possibly 14th-century), Worchester/Droitwich tile (mid 14th to mid 15th-century)
Medieval floor tiles: from top left, clockwise: Severn Valley tile (mid/late 13th-century), Bredon tile (late 13th to early 14th-century), Malvern Chase tile (possibly 14th-century), Worchester/Droitwich tile (mid 14th to mid 15th-century)
French Moor's Head jetton, 14th/15th-century
French Moor’s Head jetton, 14th/15th-century

Lead mount, possibly Book Mount, 16th/17th-century
Lead mount, possibly Book Mount, 16th/17th-century
English or French jetton, late 13th/14th-century
English or French jetton, late 13th/14th-century

Archaeologists will remain on site during the course of the development to investigate and record any remains that may be discovered as building works progress.