Sunday, April 19, 2009

Medieval Gatehouse of Selby Abbey discovered

A medieval gatehouse has been discovered near Selby Abbey, in Yorkshire, during work on redeveloping the town's market area. The gatehouse was demolished in 1792, and was once linked to the main door of the Abbey by a long corridor. It stood on the outer wall of the Abbey which, it is believed, once extended out nearly as far as where the market cross is today.

Archaeologists have been working on site since the end of last week to piece together the evidence discovered. They have found foundation stones for the main archway supports to the gatehouse while construction work on other parts of the site continued during the excavations around the gatehouse, through close cooperation between the archaeologists and construction contractors.

On-Site Archaeology is carrying out the excavation work. Berny McClusky, the archaeological project officer, said: “This is quite a significant find in that it gives us a clear indication of where the outer wall and main gateway to the Abbey once stood. We know that the tower was demolished in the late 18th century as part of a major redevelopment of the town centre. We also knew roughly where the building was, but didn’t expect the foundations to be as intact as they are. We’re been recording what we’ve found. The next stage is to make sure the finds are protected before they’re covered over again as part of the work to make the area more pedestrian-friendly. We’ve been working in partnership with the contractors to make sure that our excavation works have little impact on the overall project.”

Councillor Mark Crane, the leader of Selby District Council, said: “Time for archaeological excavations has been included in the overall construction timetable so this work hasn’t impacted on delivery of the project. Selby Abbey has always been a hugely important part of the local community and one of the key aims of the Renaissance project is to enhance the environment around this grand building so it remains a focal point for the town. Supporting our heritage in this way will help to bring in new visitors and new investment in the long-term, which ultimately supports businesses in the area too.”