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Archaeologists reveal traces of Henry VIII’s Otford Palace



A team of community archaeologists have conducted a survey in Kent, England, revealing traces of Henry VIII’s Otford Palace, also known as the Archbishop’s Palace.

The site of Otford palace lies in the parish of Otford, Kent, a few miles south-east of Greater London and adjacent to the Pilgrims Way.

The origins of the present site can be traced back to the Saxon period, however, the first documented mention of a structure on the site was by Lanfranc Archbishop of Canterbury, which was valued at £60 in the Doomsday survey of 1086.

Over the course of the following 400 years, the original manor house underwent significant expansions under the remodelling efforts of Archbishop William Courtenay. He transformed the house into a stunning edifice with a great hall in the late 14th century.

Image Credit : Darent Valley Landscape Partnership

150 years later, William Warham, Courtenay’s successor, made a lasting impact on Tudor building design with the construction of a building that can be seen as a precursor to Hampton Court and many styles of Tudor architecture.

In 1514, Warham embarked on a complete redesign of Otford, creating a palace that was fitting for a prince of the church, and which conveyed a clear expression of his power and status. He demolished most of the existing buildings and constructed a new lavish palace that established the current layout of Otford Palace.

Cardinal Wolsey took Warham’s place as the key political leader in Tudor England and intensified a rivalry that was to continue until Wolsey’s death.

When we look at the plan and design features of Otford Palace, and compare them to Wolsey’s edifice at Hampton Court, we can see a glimpse of the rivalry and dislike that existed between both men. Both buildings were built over existing manor houses and they shared common architectural features.

Otford Palace was designed and laid out on such a scale that it compares favourably with any of the largest contemporary palaces in England. At over 163m by 98m, it covered an area greater than the later renaissance influenced Nonsuch Palace, or the moated area of Eltham Palace.

As part of the English Reformation, Henry VIII acquired Otford Palace and it became a Royal Palace with the title The Honour of Otford in 1537. Despite some investment by Henry, the upkeep was insufficient, and the condition of the building gradually worsened.

From 1553 to 1558, Cardinal Reginald Pole, the final Roman Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury, resided at the palace. He was the last of 56 Archbishops of Canterbury to occupy the Palace before it fell out of use.

Image Credit : Darent Valley Landscape Partnership

As part of a community led project by the Darent Valley Landscape Partnership, an organisation that works to conserve and enhance the distinctive heritage landscapes of the Darent Valley, community archaeologists have conducted an electrical resistance survey across Palace Field adjacent to the surviving palace ruins.

The survey measures the pattern differences as electrical current is passed through the ground, revealing archaeological features which can be mapped when they are of higher or lower resistivity than their surroundings.

The study has revealed the NW tower of the palace and the western range, showing the higher resistance where the wall foundations lie, in addition to sections of the palace layout.

The Hidden Palace – Otford’s own Hampton Court project is working alongside the Archbishop’s Palace Conservation Trust to help safeguard the Palace’s future and make it more accessible to the local community.

Darent Valley Landscape Partnership

Header Image Credit : Shutterstock

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Archaeologists discover traces of Roman circus at Iruña-Veleia




Archaeologists from ARKIKUS have announced the discovery of a Roman circus at Iruña-Veleia, a former Roman town in Hispania, now located in the province of Álava, Basque Autonomous Community, Spain.

The town was an important transit centre on the Ab Asturica Burdigalam (Roman road), with a peak population of around 10,000 inhabitants.

In a recent study using aerial photography and light detection and ranging (LiDAR), archaeologists have found a Roman circus and previously unknown urban areas of Iruña-Veleia.

A Roman circus was a large open-air venue used mainly for chariot races, although sometimes serving other purposes. Chariot racing was the most popular of many subsidised public entertainments, and was an essential component in several religious festivals.

Image Credit : Shutterstock

Chariot racing declined in significance in the Western Roman Empire following the fall of Rome, with the last known race held at the Circus Maximus in AD 549, organised by the Ostrogothic king, Totila.

According to a press statement by ARKIKUS, the circus is an elongated enclosure that accommodated up to 5,000 spectators, and measures 280 metres long by 72 metres wide.

Until now, only a handful of Roman circus’s are known in the northern half of the Iberian Peninsula, emphasising the importance of Iruña-Veleia during the Roman period.

The study also revealed a Roman street system, evidence of buildings with porticoed areas, and a linear feature indicating the route of the Ab Asturica Burdigalam.

Header Image Credit : ARKIKUS

Sources : ARKIKUS

This content was originally published on – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeologists make new discoveries at Bodbury Ring hillfort




Bodbury Ring is a univallate hillfort, strategically located at the southern tip of Bodbury Hill in Shropshire, England.

Hillforts in Britain are known from the Bronze Age, but the main period of hillfort construction occurred during the Celtic Iron Age.

Hillfort fortifications follow the contours of a hill and consist of one or more lines of earthworks or stone ramparts, with stockades or defensive walls, and external ditches.

Archaeologists from Time Team and the Universities of Chester and York, recently conducted a study of Bodbury Ring using light detection and ranging (LiDAR).

Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) is a remote sensing technique that employs pulsed laser light to measure distances to the Earth. By analysing variations in the return times and wavelengths of the laser pulses, this method can generate a detailed 3-D digital map of the landscape.

The study has revealed that Bodbury Ring is six times larger than previously thought and is part of a much larger hillfort which enclosed the entirety of the ridgetop on Bodbury Hill. This larger hillfort shares some characteristics with examples known to have originated in the Late Bronze Age.

Professor Ainsworth from Time Team said: “The earthworks of Bodbury Ring, it seems, were constructed to form a small, more easily defended fort at the southern tip of the original hillfort, possibly in the Middle Iron Age.”

“This prehistoric ‘downsizing’ may have resulted from increased tension in the region, reflecting possible changes in the geopolitical landscape of the times. Close by, on the northern side of Bodbury Hill, the remains of a probable Roman Iron Age enclosed settlement have also been identified for the first time,” added Professor Ainsworth.

Header Image Credit : University of Chester

Sources : University of Chester

This content was originally published on – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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