An excavation carried out before the redevelopment of 30 Gloucester Lane, Old Market, Bristol, in 2002 recorded an ‘L’-shaped length of a defensive ditch dating from the Civil War period. The ditch would have formed part of the Royalist outworks guarding the historic eastern approaches to the City from London and Gloucester. A short time limit and restricted working area prevented full excavation of the ditch; however three sondages into the backfill deposits recovered finds dating from the mid 17th century, including the partial remains of a scabbard. Environmental analysis of samples showed evidence of a waterlogged, weed-infested ditch used for the disposal of food remains. The excavation provided a rare glimpse of an important section of Bristol’s Civil War defences that were briefly the scene of intensive and significant fighting for control of the City, yet for over three hundred years were largely forgotten. The size and location of the ditch would suggest that, as with the villages of Clifton and Bedminster, widespread demolition of surrounding buildings must have occurred between 1643 and 1645 in this outer suburb of Bristol.
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