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Archeological dig uncovers castle walls ahead of £20 million Northampton station development

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Remains of the walls of Northampton Castle have been discovered at an archeological dig ahead of the £20 million redevelopment of Northampton railway station.

Preparations for the development start at the end of the week, and the dig is taking place until Thursday to learn more about the building which once stood on the site.

Experts from Northamptonshire Archaeology dug a trench within the area currently used for short-stay car parking, and discovered part of an old stone wall, a stone line drain and a late-Saxon pit.

Northampton Castle was situated on part of the current station site, but it is believed most remains were destroyed and displaced over time as the railway was developed.

Andy Chapman, senior archaeologist with Northamptonshire Archaeology, said: “We opened the trench yesterday and we are down on the cobbles of the old station yard.

“I didn’t expect this level of preservation. It is really well preserved. The pottery is medieval, it is exactly the right date. It is a really interesting find.”

Council leader, Councillor David Mackintosh, (Con, Rectory Farm) said: “There has always been a debate about where the castle is located. We want to make sure as we move forward with the station, we respect the historical site.

“This was a very important part of Northampton’s history, but also the country’s. We need to recognise the town’s history while also looking to the future.

“This is the entrance most people have to Northampton. It is not very inspiring and is pretty shabby. We want to create something iconic.”

County councillor Heather Smith (Con, Prebendal), cabinet member for community services, said: “We expected when we opened up the trench that we wouldn’t find anything at all, so to uncover part of the old walls is quite exciting.

“Knowing that is here helps us moving forward. We will incorporate things which will reflect the fact that a medieval castle was on this site.

Located in the Northampton Enterprise Zone, the new railway station will be almost twice the size of the existing building, which is already at capacity during peak hours. The detailed design will be finalised this year, with main construction works due to commence in 2013 and complete in 2014.

In the longer term, there are plans for a 1,270 space multi-storey car park and a 28,000 square metre commercial development, subject to securing future funding.

Funding for the station project was secured in May 2012. Central Government is investing £10 million while other partners, including Network Rail and Northamptonshire County Council, are meeting the remainder of the £20 million total development costs.

The above video, created by The Friends of Northampton Castle, shows a virtual walk-through of the castle.

 

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