Monday, 16 July 2012

Geophysical Survey of King John's Palace

In the heart of medieval Sherwood Forest lies King John's Palace, a royal hunting palace.

A Geophysical Resistance survey of King John's Palace , Clipstone, Nottinghamshire was undertaken in 2010 by the author Andy Gaunt now of Mercian Archaeological Services CIC.

As part of a Masters Degree at the University of Birmingham.

This subsurface survey of the Medieval royal hunting palace in the heart of Sherwood Forest discovered many buried features- most notably the medieval boundary of the royal hunting lodge.


This survey and the work undertaken alongside it led to Channel Four's Time Team excavating at the site in Spring 2011.


It also led to an archaeological excavation in July 2012.


The Project design is discussed on the King John's Palace wikipedia page, authored by Archaeologist James Wright:


2012 archaeological evaluation

'Another archaeological evaluation is scheduled to take place at King John's Palace during July 2012.

The purpose of this work is summarised from:

• Gaunt, A. & Wright, J., (2012) King John's Palace, Clipstone, Nottinghamshire - Written Scheme of Investigation for an archaeological evaluation

A feature was identified by Gaunt (Gaunt 2011) as a geophysical anomaly of approximately 180m in length by 3-11m width running south-east to north-west through the centre of Castlefield from its boundary with the Vicar Water.

This feature was sectioned during April 2011 as part of the 19th series of Channel 4’s Time Team (Wessex 2011) and was found to be a substantial ditch approximately 2.4m in depth.

No corresponding bank was identified.

Despite excavation during the 2011 evaluation the interpretation of this feature is still unclear.

Gaunt states that: “The large high resistance linear anomaly is interpreted as probably a ditch filled with rubble or the remains of a wall. It lines up with the edge of the enclosure marked ‘Manor Garth’ on the 1630 William Senior map, and probably represents the edge of the manorial complex” (Gaunt 2011).

John Gater’s magnetometry survey interpreted the anomaly as a modern field boundary on site, and as “an old field boundary seen on first edition OS mapping” in the subsequent report (Gater 2011, 3).

This attribution of a modern date for the ditch was also asserted by Professor Mick Aston in his interview with the Western Daily Press (9 February 2012).

The archaeological report from Wessex Archaeology uses the same definition as John Gater for the ditch (Wessex 2011, 7) and also as a substantial ditch containing medieval pottery (Wessex 2011, 13).

Finally the programme as aired stated that this was the medieval boundary ditch to the site.

Given the confusion that has arisen over the attribution of this feature the evaluation in 2012 will seek to answer the following questions:

• What is morphology of the feature?
• What period(s) does the feature date from?
• What was the function of the feature?
• Does the feature represent a limit or boundary related to the medieval royal palace on the site?

Agreement has already been made with Keith Challis as editor of the Transactions of the Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire to produce a published summary on the findings of the evaluation as part of a wider article or monograph on the archaeology of medieval King’s Clipstone.

A “grey literature” site report will also be produced and lodged with the landowners, site archive, Nottinghamshire HER and English Heritage NMR'.

The results from this excavation will be discussed on this site soon.

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