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Gloucester Castle Discovered Beneath Prison Basketball Court

posted: 12/08/15
by: Danny Clemens
The front gate of HM Prison Gloucester earlier this year.
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The front gate of HM Prison Gloucester earlier this year.
quisnovus/Flickr

Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of 12th-century Norman castle wall beneath the now-closed HM Prison Gloucester's basketball court.

The remains once formed the castle's keep, a large fortified stone tower that was protected by a series of ditches, drawbridges and walls. The Gloucester Citizen reports that the keep's remains are 12 feet thick; they formed a structure that was originally 98 feet long and 65 feet across.

Built between 1110 and 1120 A.D., the castle eventually fell into disrepair and was repurposed as a prison in the late 1400s. In 1785, the castle was almost completely demolished to make way for a new prison complex, which operated until 2013.

Related: Radar Finds Secret Chamber in King Tut's Tomb

In addition to the castle wall, archaeologists have uncovered hundreds of well-preserved small artifacts, ranging from dice to complete pottery vessels.

'It is a very rare opportunity to dig a Norman castle in a great historic city. We have recorded a part of Gloucester's history that was once covered with the sands of time," Cotswold Archaeology project manager Cliff Bateman said in a news release.

Cotswold's experts were executing an archaeological evaluation of the prison site before future redevelopment.

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