Oakham Castle wall unearthed during dig

Restoration work at Oakham Castle. EMN-151221-125952001
Restoration work at Oakham Castle. EMN-151221-125952001

A piece of history that has not been seen in more than 150 years has been unearthed by archaeologists during a restoration project.

A section of the perimeter wall of Oakham Castle that has been buried under mud and vegetation has this month been uncovered.

Restoration work at Oakham Castle. EMN-151221-130013001

Restoration work at Oakham Castle. EMN-151221-130013001

Archeologists are carrying out an extensive restoration of the castle thanks to a £2m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The aim is to unveil it as a first-class cultural site for Rutland in summer 2016.

Work has already been carried out to clear the castle embankments of trees and shrubs that were damaging what remains of the walls. Professional archaeologists from the University of Leicester have since removed several tons of earth by hand to reveal the limestone masonry, which predates the Magna Carta.

Rutland County Council leader Roger Begy (Con) said: “This is latest and, perhaps, most exciting phase of a project that will breathe life back into Oakham Castle, so that it can be enjoyed and appreciated for many generations to come.

“Conservation experts have already taken steps to preserve the castle boundaries but this is the first time that we’ve dug down to expose the walls themselves. Once the restoration is complete we hope to have repaired and revealed much more of the defensive curtain wall so that visitors can get a true sense of what this incredible building was like many hundreds of years ago.”

The castle was built around 1180 and grew into a fortified site with walls, a moat and drawbridge. Many parts of the castle have been lost over time, and the moat filled in, but sections of the defensive curtain wall still surround the site.