Radar search for medieval remains

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A RADAR system that can detect the underground remains of old buildings has been used to investigate a site near Towcester where a Norman ringwork castle once stood.

The investigation at The Mount, in Alderton, followed archeological digs carried out in 2009 and 2010 that found substantial stone foundations of two ‘high status’ buildings, dating from the 12th and 13th centuries.

Among the findings were rare pieces of medieval glass and worked stone – suggesting the owner was wealthy – and a 1.7 metre stone wall.

Derek Batten, who owns the site, called in Subsurface Geotechnical to carry out a ground probing radar scan to try to find more foundations beneath the ground.

He said: “It’s obvious there’s potential here for finding more evidence of substantial high status medieval buildings. The problem is that we ran out of money.”

The previous excavations cost £18,000 and Mr Batten hopes the ground probe will enable him to target the next dig in the right area.

Mr Batten, who is also the founder of Friends of Alderton Monuments (FOAM), said: “What I would like to do is excavate the whole site and try to establish where buildings existed and what they were used for.”

The geophysical consultants spent six hours at the site in the village, which is a scheduled ancient monument, using a radar that sends electrical pulses about two metres underground using radio-frequency.

Dr John Glover said: “Basically we’re sending pulses of energy into the ground. When they hit something, it creates a picture. We then have to take the data back and process it.”

Dr Marek Wajzer added: “What we’re looking for is things that stand out from the background.

“You map out the anomalies and try to work out what they are.”

The results will take a few weeks to analyse but the team is hopeful they have found something.

Nearly 1,500 Roman, Saxon and Iron age artefacts have already been found at the site, which overlooks the Tove Valley and is surrounded by a moat.

An investigation by the Channel 4 Time Team programme in 2000 found a knight’s horse harness medallion, a dagger scabbard and a domestic knife.