Feature about The Gatehouse Abbey Fields Kenilworth. Restoration & Archaeology

Written by on July 16, 2014

An exciting excavation outside the 14th century gatehouse is taking place in Kenilworth Abbey Fields this week as part of the National Festival of Archaeology.

Warwickshire County Council’s in-house archaeology team, Archaeology Warwickshire, are joining forces with Kenilworth Abbey Advisory Committee’s Harry Sunley Memorial Project to refurbish the medieval ‘Tantara’ Gatehouse to allow public access.

This magnificent 14th-century gatehouse was used as a cottage after the Abbey of St Mary was closed by Henry VIII in 1538 and has been closed to the public for many years.

Archaeology Warwickshire Manager, Stuart Palmer, said: ‘This is a great opportunity to study one of the county’s most iconic buildings and we are hoping the dig will reveal previously unknown abbey buildings and structures that may have stood against the remains of the gatehouse in the past.’

The first stage of works involves the excavation of an area outside the gatehouse to see how best to get an electricity supply into the building, which will be necessary to open it up to the public.

The team, working with Kenilworth Abbey Advisory Committee will be joined by volunteers from Kenilworth History and Archaeological Society as well as ‘A’ level Archaeology students from Trinity Catholic School, Leamington. This is a great opportunity for its students who will gain valuable experience of working alongside professionals on what is one of the most important sites in the local area.

Cllr Jeff Clarke, Portfolio Holder for the Heritage and the Environment said: “We are very proud of the work of Archaeology Warwickshire, who are experts in so many aspects of local history and always willing and able to use that expertise to assist on a wide variety of fascinating projects. The Gatehouse at Abbey Fields is an imposing structure on the local landscape and it will be fantastic to see it opened to the public.”

Cllr Richard Chattaway, Chair of the Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee, added, “Getting involved in exciting projects like this is exactly the type of thing that gets future generations of young people interested in Archaeology. In addition to adding their expertise, the enthusiasm of Archaeology Warwickshire for the subject will be inspirational for all the young people fortunate enough to spend the week working with them.”

The work will take place over the course of next week as part of the Festival of Archaeology 2014. The Festival of Archaeology 2014 runs from 12-27 July and is co-ordinated by the Council for British Archaeology. The Festival offers over 1,000 events nationwide, organised by museums, heritage organisations, national and country parks, universities, local societies, and community archaeologists. Further information about the festival can be found on their website: http://www.archaeologyfestival.org.uk/

You can find out more about the work of Archaeology Warwickshire on the Warwickshire Website: http://heritage.warwickshire.gov.uk/archaeology/welcome-to-archaeology-warwickshire/

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