Archaeologists dig in to explore Tamworth’s history

Archaeologists excavating the car park next to Tamworth Assembly Rooms have made an interesting discovery during their search for clues about the town’s history.

Tamworth Borough Council commissioned Wessex Archaeology to explore the site of the Corporation Street car park before the land is built upon as part of the redevelopment and restoration of Tamworth Assembly Rooms.

Initially it appeared the dig would be over very quickly with no significant finds, but heavy rain on the final day revealed a darker area of earth which archaeologists believe may indicate some form of pit. Three small pieces of pottery have so far been found at the edge of the pit and these will be sent for further analysis.

The find means the dig is now continuing in an attempt to uncover the pit and its possible contents.

Staffordshire County Council’s Archaeologist Stephen Dean said: “This find could reveal a bit more about the history of Tamworth. The pit is quite a large feature and the pottery found at the edges is very dark. It looks like it could be medieval or earlier, but it will now be sent off for dating and analysis to establish its origin.”

Cllr Steve Claymore, Tamworth Borough Council’s Cabinet member for Regeneration, said: “Tamworth has a rich history as the ancient capital of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia and the area around St Editha’s Church is believed to have been a significant site at that time, so it will be interesting to find out what the pottery is and whether there is anything else down there. It’s potentially a very exciting discovery.”

The area around St Editha’s Church is believed to have been at the heart of an Anglo-Saxon development, where the earliest church and a possible Saxon palace were located.

The refurbishment programme provided the perfect opportunity for the site to be explored for the first time.

Archaeologists are looking for the survival of any key historical remains that could shed light upon the early development of Tamworth.

There will be an opportunity for people to visit the site and find out more about any findings in the coming weeks. People can keep up to date with the progress by looking online at www.tamworthassemblyrooms.co.uk , or by following Tamworth Arts & Events on Facebook or Twitter by following @TArtsandEvents.

The Assembly Rooms regeneration is part of the ambitious £6.1million project by Tamworth Borough Council and Staffordshire County Council to develop an Enterprise Quarter in the heart of Tamworth town centre.

Work to the historic theatre will include the creation of a café bar and exhibition space, a multi-use area, a new box office and new glazed double doors at the front of the building.
A brand new glass extension will be added onto the side of the building which will be used as a studio space and lit up at night.

As well as the refurbishment and extension of Tamworth Assembly Rooms, the Enterprise Quarter vision includes the transformation of the Philip Dix Centre into a Business and Enterprise Centre, the redevelopment of the Carnegie Centre as a restaurant and improvements to the library and surrounding area to create a new cultural hub.

The project will create around 100 jobs, attract additional private investment and potentially boost the town’s economy by an estimated £13million by 2019.