Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Preserving the remains

If you've been past the site recently, you'll have seen that the engineers have filled in the area of the dig in preparation for the roadworks. Many people are surprised that the site is being filled in with concrete; in fact, although it may seem strange, it's the best way to protect the archaeology!
A special mix of low-density foam concrete is used, all of the archaeological structures and deposits are protected with impermeable sheeting and sensitive features are lined with protective foam boards. This is all to ensure that there's no damage caused by vibrations or compaction from the road surface and turning area above the site. When the area is redeveloped again in the future, the concrete can be easily removed to expose the archaeological remains beneath.
Our archaeologists record a fine cellar wall made from re-used stone and tile...

The walls are shielded with protective boards, then covered in sheeting before concrete is poured
There was lots of interest in the idea of a viewing area, leaving the remains exposed or visible beneath a glass panel. It's a great idea, and we're pleased that so many people have shown an interest. Although preserving exposed archaeological remains whilst ensuring they don't fall to pieces is costly and difficult, it is possible, and we always like to see imaginative ideas for presenting our city's history!
In this case, though, there was one major problem: the part of the site containing the walls, cellars and footings of old Lich Street will be underneath the road and turning area for buses/lorries. Without moving the road even closer to the cathedral (which would disturb more archaeological remains including part of the Cathedral cemetery), or bridging the area (which would raise the road surface and block the view of the cathedral), we can't avoid this. Sadly, it's just not safe or practical to have a viewing area or a void underneath the road itself.
However, everything has been safely preserved, and the dig has given us a fascinating glimpse into almost 2000 years of history in the heart of Worcester! It's not over yet, either: as the project continues, you'll see our archaeologists down there keeping a 'watching brief', recording and protecting any more archaeological remains exposed during the work.
If you didn't get a chance to come and see our exhibition at Tudor House Museum last week, some of the displays and photographs will be staying in the museum for a few more weeks.