In pictures: Excavators unearth history in Chichester as Priory Park dig continues

Archaeologists and excavators working at Chichester’s Priory Park have spent the last few months digging up the remains of Chichester’s Norman past.

Although previous excavations in the area have turned up several Roman artefacts, this current project, which launched last month, focuses on digging up the remains of a Norman castle in the area, as well as any Roman or Anglo-Saxon settlement that preceded it, and the Franciscan Friary that came afterwards.

It’s an exciting project, one which brings Chichester’s centuries-long history right back into the present. The dig is set to finish today (Monday, June 03) having taken place over last week, and an open day on Saturday (June 1) gave excavators a chance to show off the fruits of their labour and tell members of the public about the significance of their work and the implications of their finds.

And this year’s efforts were by no means unrewarded. Experts working in Priory Park over the week uncovered the remains of what would have been a military causeway, leading to the 11th century castle.

The dig comes after a previous project last year, which uncovered the ditch that became this year’s focus, as well as the remains of a Friscan Friary. Work was also informed by a series of geophysical radar scans.

James Kenny, Chichester District Council archaeology officer, said: "This is an exciting discovery because this is the first time since the Middle Ages that people have been able to view what would have been a very impressive military defensive system.

"The structure is extremely impressive and solidly constructed."

It’s believed the castle was a Norman motte and bailey fortress built by Roger Montgomery, the first Earl of Shrewsbury, who also built Arundel Castle.

Speaking to Sussex World photographer Steve Robards, he added: “The real excitement this year is that we started to find very exciting structures associated with the Norman crossing of the ditch… and even as we speak we are finding the remains of a bridge. There’s tremendous architecture, lovely tight-fitting stones on the corner, almost certainly from Normandy. We’ve also started discovering the arch that lies within and underneath the bridge. It really is a tremendous discovery.”

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