A new community archaeology project is to get under way in Southwell thanks to a £10,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Southwell Community Archaeology has been given the Sharing Heritage grant for the Vicars Court Project, an archaeological investigation of the gardens at Vicars Court and the orchard land on Church Street.
The sites on which they stand are part of Southwell Minster assemblage and are partly within a scheduled ancient monument — a Roman villa complex and Anglo-Saxon cemetery.
It is next to the former site of the Minster School, which has been gifted to the Dean and Chapter for heritage and community use.
Mr John Lock, chairman of the group, said the award of the grant was excellent news for the town.
“It is fitting that, ten years after the group was formed to bring to public attention the risk of development of the adjoining parts of the villa complex, that this very important piece of the wider assemblage is being investigated for the first time with the aid of a Heritage Lottery Fund grant,” he said.
Mr Lock said work on the project was set to start shortly and would be carried out with the support of the Chapter of Southwell Minster and the Dean of Southwell, the Very Rev Nicola Sullivan, who has agreed to be the group’s patron.
There will be professional guidance and involvement from Historic England and the county archaeologist.
“The project brings together a wide range of objectives, the aim of which is add to the tantalising but incomplete record of the history of the land,” said Mr Lock.
The work will include a visual examination and recording of archaeological material, particularly with reference to 1 Vicars Court (home of the Dean).
There will be a detailed topographical survey of the site, technically assisted by Nottingham Trent University, along with a geophysical and remote sensing survey, which is expected to identify anomalies such as the Roman villa complex or the medieval Vicars Court complex.
There will be an examination and recording of extensive architectural fragments, possibly from the Bishops Palace or the minster.
A limited excavation will be carried out under the supervision of Nottingham community archaeologist Emily Gillott, Dr Chris Brooke and Dr Will Bowden of part of a large and unusual mound in the garden of 1 Vicars Court, which may possibly represent the spoil heap from 1959 excavations.
Mr Lock said there would be regular updates on the progress of the year-long project.
At the end there will be a public celebration on or nearby the project land, which will include a display of the material discovered and the survey work completed.
The project also plans to prepare and publish a booklet to be part of the history of Southwell.