New community archaeology project in town associated with King Richard III receives funding

A new community archaeology project that provides residents the opportunity to carry out excavations in order to learn more about their town’s history has received funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The Market Bosworth Society in partnership with the University of Leicester has been awarded a grant of £29,000 for their ‘Bosworth Links’ community archaeology project, it was announced today (10 May).

Over the next two years the Market Bosworth Society, supported by archaeologists from University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS), will investigate the history of their town, providing hundreds of opportunities for people to come together and get involved in an archaeological project that will uncover thousands of years of shared heritage on their doorsteps.

Volunteers digging archaeological test-pits with the University of Leicester. Credit: Charnwood Roots Project / University of Leicester

Nigel Palmer, Chairman of the Market Bosworth Society and the Bosworth Links steering committee said: “The Society is delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has decided that this exciting project is worthy of significant funding and we look forward to working with them and our partners to shed light on the important history of Market Bosworth. We are very pleased that the renowned University of Leicester’s Archaeological Services are to work closely with us and we hope that the project and its findings will be of value not only to our local communities, but also of interest to the growing number of tourists in the area.”

Today, Market Bosworth is perhaps best recognised for giving its name to the Battle of Bosworth, fought nearby in 1485, where the last Yorkist king of England, Richard III, was slain. In recent years, this defining moment in history has framed the town’s narrative, drawing in thousands of visitors and tourists, especially following the discovery of Richard III’s remains by University archaeologists beneath a car park in Leicester 2012; and the battle’s long association with the town was reaffirmed in 2015, when the king’s funeral cortège passed through Market Bosworth on its way to Leicester Cathedral for his reburial. Today, a new memorial plaque in the Market Place commemorates this event.

Volunteers digging archaeological test-pits with the University of Leicester. Credit: Charnwood Roots Project / University of Leicester

Market Bosworth’s own history, however, is far from clear. Previous finds of Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman and ‘Viking’ artefacts in the town show that it has rich archaeological potential but leave many unanswered questions particularly regarding the origins and early development of the settlement.

Now, residents of Market Bosworth and its wider community will carry out archaeological excavations, by digging test-pits and recording their findings, in their gardens and other places around the town in order to make new discoveries about the history of the spaces they inhabit. Volunteers will have a unique opportunity to contribute to ongoing national research into the development of settlement in Britain, and investigate their local history with the help of professional archaeologists.

Mathew Morris, Project manager for ULAS said: “Bosworth Links is a fantastic community archaeology project to be involved with. Our research of Currently Occupied Rural Settlements, known as CORS, is often hampered by the fact that we can’t excavate large areas in modern settlements. However, is has been successfully demonstrated that test-pit excavation, where a 1m square pit is dug and recorded in a scientific manner to recover artefacts present in the soil, is a remarkably effective means of recovering useful archaeological information from sites that otherwise can’t be dug up. Even better, this type of excavation can be done by anyone. No previous experience is necessary, we provide all the on-site training you need, and it’s a fun way to involve your family, friends and neighbours and learn something about where you live.”

Volunteers digging archaeological test-pits with the University of Leicester. Credit: Charnwood Roots Project / University of Leicester

The Project is open to everyone and those without any previous experience are especially welcome to take part. Free training will be provided by University archaeologists who will provide on-site support and specialist analysis of the discoveries, which will be reported back to the community through a variety of public events and activities aimed at families, groups, businesses, and local schools.

The first Big Dig will take place over the weekend of 22-23 July during the Leicestershire and Rutland Festival of Archaeology, part of the Council for British Archaeology’s national Festival of Archaeology.

The Project is supported by The Heritage Lottery Fund, as well as the Dixie Educational Foundation, Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council, The Richard III Legacy and Market Bosworth Parish Council.

If you are interested in taking part in the project please visit the website to register, or telephone 01455 293659.

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