Northampton's Market Square surveyed by international archeology firm MOLA as part of redevelopment

Councillor Lizzy Bowen says they are 'keen to see Market Square’s history protected'

By Max Pearson
Wednesday, 17th November 2021, 3:22 pm
The council has recently reneged on plans to get rid of Market Square traders while the work is ongoing.
The council has recently reneged on plans to get rid of Market Square traders while the work is ongoing.

West Northamptonshire Council has teamed up with an international archeology firm to help redevelop Northampton's historic Market Square.

The Northampton office of the Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) has been brought on board to give specialist assistance to this process.

As part of the work, MOLA will produce an independent report detailing the significance of Market Square, surrounding buildings and buried heritage.

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The group is currently reviewing ground penetrating radar surveys carried out in July this year by MK Surveys, an independent survey company.

MOLA is also inspecting ground investigation work for archaeological remains, as well as digging trial pits and bore holes that provide 'a good understanding of ground conditions' where improvements are proposed.

The council say that they are keen to ensure all work carried out as part of the project respects the character of the important space. They also say that MOLA’s appointment is in line with advice from Historic England, the public body that aims to help people care for and celebrate England's historical environment.

Councillor Lizzy Bowen, cabinet member for Economic Development, Town Centre Regeneration and Growth, said: “Feedback that we’ve had through our engagement with people over this project is that they are keen to see Market Square’s history protected.

“We also plan to consider how we can reflect some of that history in a variety of the design elements, including public art.

“And we intend to marry that with some digital interpretation which will help visitors to the square understand it’s long and varied heritage.”

This is not the first time that MOLA has been involved in a Northamptonshire project, having excavated Overstone Farm back in 2019. There the group unearthed 150 Anglo-Saxon burial sites across 13 hectors of land. In it they found nearly 3,000 rare Anglo-Saxon objects including roughly 150 brooches, 15 rings, 2000 beads, 75 wrist clasps and 15 chatelaine belt hooks.

The group also performed an aerial survey of Darsale Farm in July 2015, making use of a small unmanned aircraft to aid an archeological dig there.

MOLA senior project manager, Ben Barker, said: “Given our long history of working with Northampton’s Heritage, previously as Northamptonshire Archaeology and subsequently as part of MOLA, we are passionate about ensuring that any development project respects the history and character of the town.

“We are currently engaged in objectively assessing the heritage significance of the Market Square in its current form.

“Going forward, we are keen to listen to the concerns of stakeholders, including local and national bodies, Northampton residents and other users of the square, listening to these views, and reporting our findings.”

While work is in its early stages now, MOLA will be releasing updates should they make any fresh discoveries.