Boston Market Place is being revamped to make a friendly and attractive open space right in the heart of the historic Lincolnshire town and in the shadow of the Stump, the spectacular tower of the medieval church of St Botolph.
The work gave us a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see what lies beneath the surface of the market place. Over the course of three weeks almost one hundred volunteers from the town, working in small teams, carried out archaeological excavations, carefully peeling back the layers of earth beneath the tarmac of the Market Place, under the skilled guidance of professionals from Network Archaeology.
What were we aiming to find? We know that the Market Cross (or Butter Cross), the Corn Cross, a Butchery and a range of housing, were free standing within the market place into the eighteenth century. Were their foundations still there beneath the ground?
And how much remained from the medieval market? Eight hundred years ago, Boston was one of the most important ports in the country. Exports of wool from the estates of the abbeys along the Witham Valley and lead and tin from mines in Derbyshire would have paid for luxury goods imported from the Mediterranean and Northern Europe. Would there be evidence of life from this period?
The medieval Market Place would have been a cosmopolitan scene, buzzing with traders and craft-workers from across Europe, drawn to the town by the opportunities it offered. The findings from our excavations will fill in some of the details of this picture, and how it changed and developed over the centuries.
But of course, the fun of archaeology is finding the unexpected and the excavations did not disappoint! Check out this website and the linked Facebook, Flickr and Youtube pages to see how the Big Dig developed. We'll aim to update this site as we piece together the excavated evidence and find out more about life in Boston through the medieval period to the eighteenth century.
A great past, an exciting future
Combing a rich and varied shopping experience with a beautiful, historic setting, Boston's Market Place has been a unique and important asset to the town for more than 500 years.
Now, a £2m refurbishment scheme will revitalise the area, ensuring it continues to attract new shoppers, visitors and investors for decades to come.
The vision is to create a simpler layout that will bring the heritage of the Market Place to life. The area will become more pedestrian-friendly, with space created for additional specialist markets, events and, potentially, street cafes.
The improvements will be carried out using high-quality natural stone materials to enhance the area's unique character. Work will take place between July 2011 and March 2012.
The project has been developed by Lincolnshire County Council and Boston Borough Council in consultation with traders, businesses and the public. It was made possible by a £1.1 million contribution from the European Regional Development Fund.
14 May 2012
Come along to the Boston Medieval Fayre - a free family event with plenty to see and do!
Date: Sunday 20th May 2012
Time: 11am - 4pm
The Boston Medieval Fayre is part of the Boston Big Dig Project which began in Summer 2011 with a community archeological dig in the market place. Network Archaeology Ltd led a team of local volunteers to unearth many interesting items from Boston's medieval past.The fayre is celebration of this history and of the work put in by the local community.Read more...
26 January 2012
Gavin Glover has written an article on Boston Big Dig for the Past Horizons website.
While Sally, a pupil at Boston High School has written an article for The Young Journalist Academy with a video interview with Jenny Young of Heritage Lincolnshire.Read more...
16 August 2011
The Big Dig excavations may be over but there is still much more to be done. The three week excavation saw almost one hundred volunteers try their hand at excavating or working with the finds, with many more stopping to watch the excavations, ask questions and read the information boards, but, with the fieldwork of the Big Dig now finished, the Big Dig team have begun concentrating their energies on analysing all of the information gleaned from the excavations. The finds will be prepared for detailed scrutiny by specialists and made ready for conservation. The site records, which contain all of the information about the assorted layers, the walls and the pits revealed during the excavations, will be looked at and, along with the site plans and section drawings, will be used to form the basis of the excavation report, which will be written once all of the specialist feedback has been received. We'll be doing further historical research to try to establish more about the buildings in Trench 3 and the 'pillory pit' in the Corn Cross trench outside Marks and Spencer's, and to find out more about the remains from the other trenches.Read more...