Samples could shed light on quay's historic past

Common Staithe Quay, in King's Lynn, where an archaeological dig is set to be carried out Picture:

Common Staithe Quay, in King's Lynn, where an archaeological dig is set to be carried out - Credit: Chris Bishop

What secrets from a town's medieval past might lie beneath a riverside car park..?

Tucked away behind the Corn Exchange in King's Lynn, Common Staithe Quay was once a hive of activity, as ships came and went plying their wares.

Now parts of the pay and display site are being cordoned off as scientists take core samples so see what might be left behind.

West Norfolk and Norfolk County councils have commissioned Oxford Archaeology East to undertake this work to see whether there are any archaeological remains, their condition and state of preservation. The archaeological investigation work is funded by Historic England.

Graham Middleton, West Norfolk's cabinet member for business, culture and heritage, said: "As part of our Historic England funded five-year heritage action zone project, we have been carrying out research into the archaeology and buildings of the town. This has included a mixture of building and ground surveys, map regression and archive image searches. These investigations have also included archaeological coring.

“Coring at Common Staithe Quay has the potential to uncover buried archaeological material relating to medieval domestic occupation as well as industry and trade, from medieval, Hanseatic and later periods. Any items uncovered could reveal information about the contemporary landscape.

"Previous archaeological excavations in King’s Lynn suggest any excavation in the town’s historic core has the potential to reveal well-preserved organic material due to waterlogging."

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Tony Calladine, Historic England's regional director, said: “We’re excited to see archaeological research work start on the Common Staithe car park and are looking forward to seeing what’s discovered. These rich connections to King’s Lynn’s historic past and people are vital for understanding and celebrating its unique character. Such understanding can help heritage play an important role in regeneration and economic growth in the town."

The work on site will take approximately one week, and the archaeologists will work closely with the borough council and adjacent property owners to safely manage the survey and keep disruption to a minimum.