Uncovering treasures of the past at King John’s Palace
History lover Geoff Allen fulfilled a life-long ambition when he joined Mercian Archaeological Services on a recent excavation at King John’s Palace in Clipstone. In this guest article, Geoff, from Derbyshire, writes about his experience.
I recently completed a week’s course at King John’s Palace with Mercian Archaeological Services – and as an introduction to the practice and theory of archaeology it would be hard to beat.
From the outset we were made very welcome with the archaeologists giving us a history of the palace (which was visited by all eight English kings from Henry II to Richard II) and showing us numerous finds from the site to help us identify new artefacts which we would unearth from our own digging. Finally, on the first morning we were shown how the palace grounds were laid out and discussed how the building related to other medieval sites around Sherwood Forest including Rufford Abbey as well as Nottingham Castle.
Beneath the lively on-site banter, it soon became obvious that the archaeologists were very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the project. Our dig was in what was thought to be a medieval boundary ditch which the Mercian group had located in previous surveys. As well as discussing ‘finds’ – mainly medieval pottery but also a couple of stone age flints – we had talks throughout the week from the resident archaeologists, plus one on buildings archaeology by an expert attached to the Museum of London.
Towards the end of the week, we were shown how to record our findings by photography and drawing.
We were joined on the dig by the owners of the palace – I had not met someone who owned a palace before – and we were provided with a tasty cooked lunch each day. Andy, Sean and David, the professionals who organised the field school, have put together an enjoyable and stimulating course which I am pleased to recommend.
For more information on Mercian, including future digs, visit the website. Geoff is pictured at the top, first left. Image credit: Mercian Archaeological Services.