Northampton’s medieval castle unearthed by amateur archaeologists

John and Marie Dickie have dug up part of Northampton Castle in their garden and  found pottery and oyster shells
John and Marie Dickie have dug up part of Northampton Castle in their garden and found pottery and oyster shells

A small suggestion of what life would have been like in Northampton’s medieval castle has been unearthed by a group of amateur archaeologists.

A group of historians carried out a dig on land close to Northampton’s railway station at the weekend.

Despite only digging a one-metre section of land, the group, which included members of the Friends of Northampton Castle, unearthed artefacts from the castle.

The dig was led by the chairman of the friends group, Dr Marie Dickie, and her husband, Chron columnist, John Dickie.

Mr Dickie said: “We actually found a piece of the castle - a large piece of sandstone.

“We also found oyster shells and pieces of pottery which look to be medieval.

“They’re now being checked over by a professional archaeologist and we’re really delighted with the finds. For only a small dig, we found a great deal.”

The dig was carried out on a piece of council land in front of the Dickies’ house.

The oyster shells found on the site did not come as a surprise to the historians as, during the middle ages, oysters were popular with both rich and poor.

They were also eaten widely as the medieval church imposed a large number of ‘fish days’, where meat could not be eaten.

Mr Dickie said: “We found some really interesting stuff and the oyster shells give us a glimpse into the diet of the people who lived on the castle site. They certainly didn’t get there by themselves after all.”

The group will hold a similar dig this weekend on land in front of the Doddridge United Reform Chapel in Doddridge Street.

Again, a one-meter-square piece of land will be dug up to see what remains of the castle can be found.

Mr Dickie said: “This site could be really interesting as we believe it could be where there was once a church associated with the castle.”

The dig will be held from 10am on Saturday and people who would like to take part are welcome to join in.

Northampton Castle was once used as a seat of Parliament, but was partially demolished in 1662 under the orders of King Charles II because of Northampton’s support for Parliament during the Civil War.

The remnants of the building were taken away by the Victorians and the site cleared in 1859 to make way for the town’s railway station.