Human skeleton to be excavated from Nottingham Castle grounds

Archaeologists will begin work on Tuesday 31 May on a dig on the Middle Bailey at Nottingham Castle to recover the remains of a human skeleton which was partially removed in 1978.
The upper parts of a human skeleton (chest upwards) were unexpectedly discovered and removed during an excavation in 1978 by the Trent Valley Archaeological Research Committee when they excavated a test pit to try and locate the Great Chapel built during the medieval period.

Image of the skeleton

Image of the skeleton

This latest excavation aims to expose, exhume and re-unite the elements of the skeleton in order to enable further forensic examination to be undertaken and to help determine more information about the individual.

The skeleton is believed to date from the English Civil War. Work is already underway at the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit at Oxford University to carry out radiocarbon dating of part of the skeleton found in 1978. Results should be available in a few weeks’ time.
Famously, in August 1642 at the start of the Civil War, King Charles I chose Nottingham as the rallying point for his armies and raised his Standard at Nottingham Castle. But soon after he departed, the Castle fell into Parliamentarian hands and remained in their control throughout the war.

The skeleton may be that of a Parliamentary captain from Derby who was killed at the Castle in September 1643, an incident described in a book by Lucy Hutchinson about her husband Colonel John Hutchinson who was Governor of Nottingham during the Civil War. Following the siege of the Castle at least twenty Royalists were taken prisoner. One day they were dragged from the dungeon and the Great Chapel in which they were held and marched up and down the castle yard. They were beaten and shouted at by their captors and the Royalists fought back, killing the captain.

The excavation also aims to reveal more about a medieval building found in 1978, attempt to establish the location of the Great Chapel, and investigate medieval and post medieval deposits that have built up over time.

Councillor Dave Trimble, Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture, said: “This is a very exciting excavation and we are all looking forward to learning about what is discovered. This dig will significantly enhance our understanding of the Castle site, building our knowledge of Nottingham Castle during the medieval period and through to the Civil War and beyond. The planned £24m transformation of Nottingham Castle will include a Rebellion Gallery which will tell the stories of rebellion and revolt on the site, and this excavation gives an insight into one of the many dramatic incidents that have taken place at the Castle over its 1000 years history.”

Notes for editors –
Media is not allowed to film the actual exhumed body (for legal reasons), but they can film the start of the dig.

Ron Inglis – Service Manager for Museums and Galleries and and Scott Lomax – Archaeologist from Nottingham City Council are both available for interview, as is Paul Johnson – Project Manager from Trent & Peak Archaeology.

Please call Donna Marshall on 0115 876443 or email donna.marshall@nottinghamcity.gov.uk to arrange.

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