The family archaeology tent, in the gardens. There's an old theatre buried under this garden!! (author's own)
But back to this year, and this excavation has been scheduled for only 2 weeks, rather than 6 months! Therefore, these trenches have been targeting walls that may have a particular significance, in potentially redefining the history of the house. This may sound rediculous; yes, there are historical sources, and yes, there are old plans of the house, so why are we chasing walls that have already been drawn? The problem with these older plans is that they often have an asthetic bias to them, or in layman's term, people wanted to draw for the sake of drawing, rather than for planning applications. So they might have deliberately missed a wall, just because it was obscured by another feature. Even the more recent plans from the 18th and 19th centuries are, while more objective, subject to human error. So a new plan would not go amiss for the final report (due for 2016).Furthermore, the team have found that the New Place wall does not run parallel to the house next door. What does this mean for the house? We know that the house has medieval origins, but not it's relationship to other houses i.e. which houses were built first?
The very tree that Shakespeare planted, and nearly chopped down by an angry vicar! (author's own)
One of the surprises of the Digging for Shakespeare excavation has to be the Iron Age pits that were found last year! These were completely unexpected, and confirmed suspicions that the Romans were not the first settlers of Stratford-upon-Avon. We are unfortunately unlikely to find any more with the time we have left, but nonetheless they have extended the lifespan of New Place into prehistory. We hope that the full report of the excavations will come out in a few years time.
P.S. on an unrelated note, read this opinion on the fracking situation in Britain! http://losttimelady-geologist.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/an-open-letter-to-frack-off-community.html
Mitchell, W., 2010, "Dig for Shakespeare", New Place, Stratford-on-Avon, Warwickshire: Archaeological Excavation 2010, Birmingham Archaeology for the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Birmingham
link 2: http://bloggingshakespeare.com/digging-the-dirt-on-shakespeare