e-mail and response to:
Chris Burgess, County Archaeologist and Conservation Team Manager
Community and Environmental Services
I am interested in the possibility of there once being a Carmelite Friary in the vicinity of the Governor's House and Palace Green in Berwick-upon-Tweed. A few weeks ago I read the results of three predevelopment test bores that were taken in the Governor's Garden - at 6m depth, the two test bores holes at the northern end of the site (in an approximate east/west alignment) found a very hard 'stone' layer possibly akin to stone floors
I would be very interested to hear your thoughts on my supposition that - in 1272 (when the friary was founded), as this location was part of a peninsular outside the medieval town walls - that 6m below modern ground level is the likely depth of medieval ground level and that recent archaeological excavations in the area did not dig deep enough to penetrate though the made ground of the Elizabethan period, the period when the wall were extended to enclose the peninsular.
I look forward to hearing from you
Sorry for the delay in my reply, I have come in to the office for the first time in several days to find your emails. I can confirm that previous ground investigations (both archaeological and geotechnical) in the Palace Green area of Berwick have indicated that medieval archaeology does survive at depth (as much as 6 metres) in that part of the town. This in itself is not unusual for Berwick, and simply reflects the extent to which the medieval remains of the town survive, and the importance as a whole of the medieval resource of the town.
However, while historic records do suggest that a monastic settlement was located in the general vicinity of Palace Green, there is no evidence, conclusive or otherwise, that the remains encountered to date are related to that activity. Simply speaking the investigations to date have been of a limited nature, and have allowed the identification of remains of the Medieval era, but have not been extensive enough to allow detailed characterisation of those remains.
Current proposals for redevelopment to this area are being framed in such a way as to allow these remains to be preserved in situ, an option you are no doubt aware which is preferred to excavation as this is a destructive process that would remove not only the medieval remains but also all of the post-medieval (Elizabethan, restoration and Georgian) remains that may be present. Were the situation to change and the medieval remains become threatened then we would of course work either to ensure their preservation by record (excavation) or by preservation (if possible).
If I can be of any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact me