York & North Yorkshire

Castle dig unearths historic Scarborough site's past

Scarborough Archaeological dig at the castle Image copyright Scarborough Archaeological
Image caption The archaeological team opened three trenches at the site on the headland

English Civil War musket balls, Roman pottery and items from the 2nd Century AD are among objects unearthed during a rare dig at a Yorkshire landmark.

Teams discovered the finds during a six-day operation on land at Scarborough Castle, which was twice besieged in the 17th Century civil war.

They examined spoil from works carried out almost a century ago.

Archaeologist Marie Woods said "We didn't know what we would find".

Members of Scarborough Archaeological and History Society dug three trenches after gaining Scheduled Monument Consent from Historic England.

Ms Woods said: "For us to be given the opportunity to dig here is extremely exciting. It is the first time the society has conducted excavations inside the castle grounds.

"There were excavations between 1921 and 1925 but that explored the Roman signal station. Our aim is to gather information that might help our understanding of previous settlements that were here on the headland."

Image copyright Scarborough Archaeological
Image caption The team unearthed what they believe are musket balls from the English Civil War

In the 1920s a large sports stadium was planned for the headland to include an athletics track and four football pitches.

But the groundworks went too deep and the work was halted.

Now the spoil from those groundworks is allowing the archaeologists to find items from across the centuries.

Scarborough Castle

Image caption The castle has played a notable part in English history

The settlement of Scarborough first appears in documents from the 12th Century as a borough prospering beneath the walls of a great royal castle.

In 1159 Henry II began to rebuild the castle at a cost of £650, planting a new town beneath its walls at the same time.

Edward I continued to use it as a royal lodging, holding court and council at Scarborough in 1275.

Richard III was the last king to stay there, in 1484, while assembling a fleet to resist the expected invasion of Henry Tudor, later Henry VII.

From the 1650s the castle also served as a prison - among those held there was George Fox, founder of the Society of Friends (the Quakers).

Source: English Heritage

Ms Woods added: "From the three trenches we've had a wide range of material, from musket balls dating to the Civil War when the castle was sieged to whole teacups from the 1950s.

"We've also found Roman pottery and "black burnished ware" which dates from the second century, along with some flint tools - but they needs further investigation."

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