Could medieval secrets be hidden under car park?

PUBLISHED: 11:41 03 January 2020 | UPDATED: 11:42 03 January 2020

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

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


Archaeologists are set to take samples from an ancient quay as part of a special heritage project.

Historic England has earmarked three areas of King's Lynn for investigation as part of the town's Heritage Action Zone.

They include Chapel Street car park, the area around the South Gate and Common Staithe Quay, which is also now a car park.

Core samples will be taken from the quay, parts of which were in use as a landing stage for goods in medieval times.

The car park will be closed from 7pm - 6am from Monday to Wednesday next week while boreholes are being dug.

West Norfolk council, which owns the site, said: "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."

Land was reclaimed as the course of the river moved and its banks became silted.

The current sea wall between Ferry Street and Page Stair Lane was added in 1952, with a promenade placed on top in 1990.

Historic England says of the area: "Today it's a quiet spot. Four hundred years ago it would have been full of merchants and sailors, paying customs, loading and unloading goods, and heading towards an inn after days at sea.

"It was built in a U-shape which you can still see. The bottom of the 'U' is the Tuesday Market Place with an inn and customs house, two sides of warehouses, and the fourth side open to the river. Parts of the old quay and warehouses still survive."

The area includes one of the first swimming baths to be built in Britain, a row of Georgian warehouses and the offices of the King's Lynn Conservancy Board, which maintains navigation on the River Ouse.

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