In 2010 and 2011 a groundbreaking and innovative archaeological project (named Dig for Shakespeare) began in Stratford-upon-Avon at New Place, the residence of William Shakespeare from 1597 until his death in 1616.
The site, which is currently a formal garden belonging to The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (SBT), has in the past been the subject of historical research and antiquarian excavations, but has until recently, received little attention. Current work has re-informed and shed light on this enigmatic house.
Excavations are being undertaken by the SBT, in conjunction with the University of Birmingham and a group of volunteers. The project will continue for a final season – phase 3 – in 2012.
The main aims of the archaeological project are as follows:
1) To uncover archaeological evidence for the life and times of William Shakespeare and New Place. This will include the material culture (objects) and structural information about the house itself.
2) To engage the local community, national and international visitors with the archaeology. This also include volunteers, visitors, school groups and the media. Three and a half million people watched the dig live on BBC1’s National Treasures last September and a Time Team special will be aired in the not too distant future…
3) In addition, the Academic Advisory Board for ‘Dig for Shakespeare’ meets regularly during the excavations and brings a variety of expert perspectives to bear on the project. It’ll be partly their role to work out how the outcomes of the dig lead, eventually, to a re-interpretation of this important cultural site.
We start digging again on Monday 26 March and go on until the middle of October. This might well be our last opportunity for several generations to unearth Shakespeare’s New Place. Over the coming weeks, I’ll be bringing you up to date with the project so far. Do come and visit us! You can find more images and information about the project here.