The quest to piece together the history of Hull continues at pace and now it’s the public’s turn to play a part!
Archaeologists have found intriguing clues from the past as part of Highways England’s A63 Castle Street project. Last autumn the 70-strong team began carefully excavating Trinity Burial Ground, which lies partially in the area where the improvements are to be carried out.
The £355 million Castle Street scheme will usher in an exciting new era for the city, creating a much better connection between the centre of Hull and the retail and docks area. It’s a key part of Transport for the North’s strategic transport plan, and will see the creation of a new junction by lowering the level of the A63 at the Mytongate junction.
The excavation will run until summer 2021 and in the meantime, the project team are reaching out to the public to ask for photographs, footage and any snippets which could feature in a video looking at Hull’s history and how it shaped the city we see today.
Highways England assistant project manager Fran Oliver said:
“The early findings from the archaeology work have been fascinating and we want to expand on that by calling on the fine people of Hull to kindly share their memories. They can help us shine a light on the city’s rich history with any old photographs, videos and snippets they can spare.
“We will be producing a video about Hull’s past and the public can help bring it to life. It will complement nicely the work taking place on the ground.”
The archaeology work is being carried out in partnership with Balfour Beatty, Oxford Archaeology, Humber Field Archaeology, Hull City Council, Historic England and Hull Minster. Two large tents were erected at the burial ground to ensure they can operate in privacy, and the work is being done with the utmost sensitivity and care.
All Highways England sites have strict safeguarding measures, in line with Public Health England guidance, to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and none of the sites are open to the public.
Councillor Daren Hale, deputy leader of Hull City Council, said:
“Ensuring local people can be involved in the creation of this project is crucial to its legacy. Documenting these memories will build on some of the fascinating elements already discovered during the archaeological dig, and I look forward to seeing what the people of Hull come up with.”
The scheme got off to a flying start last year with the discovery of an 18th century jail and the site of an incendiary bomb explosion in the Second World War.
Further discoveries made at the turn of the year can now also be revealed. A clay pipe featuring running footballers is likely to have been produced in the latter half of the 19th century, when pipe makers often included sporting motifs to coincide with the rise of amateur and professional sports.
An ornate grip plate showing two winged cherubs was discovered during the excavation of the first shaft grave. While the coffin plate had disintegrated, the coffin grips, each with a plate depicting the cherubs, were well preserved.
A floral brooch has also been found in a grave, and has since been expertly cleaned. It doesn’t appear to have a pin or hinge, but could’ve been attached to clothing by a ribbon. The central stone is thought to be agate polished into a cabochon.
Will Neaves, Balfour Beatty Project Director, said:
“We are delighted to be delivering this scheme on behalf of Highways England which will not only provide the local community with easier access between the city centre and surrounding retail and docks area, but will also leave a lasting legacy by helping to piece together the rich history of Hull through our excavation and archaeology work.”
On the east side of the Commercial Road site the team have discovered partial footprints of two buildings which don’t show up on any post-medieval maps. The archaeologists have also found various bits of pottery and tile.
Keith Emerick, Inspector of Ancient Monuments for Historic England, said:
“The A63 Castle Street project will offer some exciting opportunities for the people of Hull to get involved in heritage activities. In particular we want to hear people’s memories and stories, and see their photographs of the route, including the buildings and the people who made this part of the city come alive, to give colour and character to the archaeology.
“All partners are working closely to devise ways in which the public can learn more about the area’s archaeology, share their stories and ask questions about the works. We all want this project to represent a big change in how such projects are run and how they involve the public.”
If you’d like to contribute your memories of Hull please send them by email to A63CastleStreet.Hull@highwaysengland.co.uk or in the post to Fran Oliver, Lateral, 8 City Walk, Leeds, LS11 9AT. The deadline is Friday 26 March. Please include a contact telephone number in case the team need to clarify any details with you, and visit https://highwaysengland.co.uk/our-work/a63-castle-street-archaeology/ so you can agree to the terms and conditions.