Council pleased with start of 'exciting' second Priory Park dig

Local archaeologists from last year uncovering Roman secrets hidden beneath the ground at Priory Park. Picture contributed
Local archaeologists from last year uncovering Roman secrets hidden beneath the ground at Priory Park. Picture contributed

Chichester District Council has said they are pleased with the results from the first day of the 'exciting' second public dig at Priory Park.

Local archaeologists returned to the park yesterday to uncover more of the Roman secrets hidden beneath the ground, with residents and visitors able to watch the dig in action until July 22.

This year’s project will extend the work carried out last year, which uncovered the preserved remains of part of a Roman bath-house, complete with its underfloor heating system, which was occupied by one of the city’s wealthiest citizens.

Chichester District Council said: “Work to remove the top layer of soil has been completed and we are now in the initial stages of the archaeological dig, working with volunteers from Chichester and District Archaeology Society.

"It was great to see a number of members of the public at the park showing an interest in our work on the first day of the excavation.

"This is a really exciting project and we are keen to engage residents and visitors to find out more about Chichester’s Roman past. We hope to see lots of people in the park on Saturday 21 July for our open day where we will be giving talks and displaying our finds.”

The dig is being led by Chichester District Council’s own archaeologist, James Kenny, with volunteers from the Chichester and District Archaeology Society, who have returned with their trowels to uncover the whole of the building.

The council said this will give people the 'opportunity to see the whole of the bath-house and how it connects with other nearby buildings'.

Saturday July 21 will see the team hold a special day for the public, which will include a programme of talks by Mr Kenny to put the work into context and explain what has been found.

Last year’s event was a successful one with people turning out in their hundreds to find out more about this unique part of Chichester’s history, which has survived untouched for more than 1,600 years.

Susan Taylor, cabinet member for planning at Chichester District Council, said: “The first public dig last year was so popular and it was wonderful to see so many people of all ages keen to find out this fantastic piece of history hidden beneath the park.

“This year, even more of the area will be uncovered, giving us an even better understanding of what life was like back in Roman Chichester.

“I want to encourage as many people as possible to come along and see the project in action.

"People can also find out even more by visiting our Novium Museum which has the remains of a Roman bathhouse and a permanent Roman exhibition.”

James Kenny and his team will share their findings during a series of talks scheduled for 10am, 12pm, 2pm and 4pm on Saturday July 21.

Find out more at www.chichester.gov.uk/councilnews