This year, after a digital project in 2020, the famous University of Bristol student excavation is back on track on a fantastic site, at the University Royal Fort Gardens.
Over the course of the first week the students started excavating two trenches in search of evidence of the Royal Fort, which was for built for the Civil War, as well as trying to understand how the landscape changed with the later construction of Royal Fort House and the relandscaping of the grounds by the famous Humphrey Repton.
At the start of Week Two, in Trench 1, there is some emerging evidence for a linear feature, as well as evidence for some later quarrying of the site (probably around the time the Royal Fort was dismantled) and also some potential later garden features.
The linear feature is possibly part of the construction phase of the Civil War Fort (potentially a ditch, such as that shown in the image below).
On the western side of Trench 1, there is also evidence of quarrying of a limestone outcrop (probably synonymous with the destruction of Royal Fort for building stone). The trench has also produced a good clay pipe stem with partial bowl (see photo below), which may give us a date for the Fort’s destruction).
In Trench 2, minimal features and finds have been uncovered. The features present appear to be cuttings for Victorian or Edwardian ornamental flower beds rather than evidence for the Picturesque style landscape that Humphrey Repton was endeavouring to create in 1800. Also uncovered in Trench 2 was a late Victorian or Edwardian scarf/tie pin, which nicely dates the flower beds.
Victorian/Edwardian flowerbeds in Trench 2