Archaeological dig on the site of the new sports facility

The site of the new sports facility in Ravelin Park has a wealth of history that has been incorporated into the design of the building. Over the coming months, archaeologists will be recording the heritage of the site for future generations.  

What we expect to find

Portsmouth has a rich naval history. In the 17th century, Sir Bernard de Gomme built the city’s defensive fortifications that may have incorporated medieval defences. Old Portsmouth is surrounded by defensive fortifications that include walls, bastions, a moat and tall triangular constructions known as ravelins. These fortifications were built in front of the city wall, forcing a wave of attackers to divide and making them easier to attack. Historical maps of Ravelin Park suggest we might find the remains of ravelins, the Town Mount Bastion moat.

The fortifications were demolished in the 19th century and the site became the city’s army garrison headquarters in 1870. The army left the site in the 1960s and the land was transferred in 1969 to Portsmouth Polytechnic, and became one of the University’s car parks until this year when it was granted planning permission from Portsmouth City Council to build the new sports facility. It will be interesting to see the walls uncovered.

Recording our city’s history

A team of archaeologists will make an accurate record within the site, comparing this with historical maps. They will also identify to what extent older medieval defences were incorporated into the later defences particularly in the Town Mount Bastion.

The archaeological work will be completed in two phases:

  1. Dig two trenches to reveal the city defences – starting in October
  2. Record a plan of the city defences as the site is cleared and excavated – timings confirmed once the contractor is appointed

The design for the new sports facility intends to build upon the historical precedent by using the idea of the ravelin triangular shape to contain the solid blocks of accommodation at ground floor such as toilets and changing areas, bringing the history into the building design.

4 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. This is exciting, will there be an open day or site tour to see what they have found. Would be good if there was and not just for Uni staff/Students but also for the residents of Portsmouth, after all it’s their history.

    • As the project progresses we will know more about what will be uncovered. We will be in touch with the archaeologists about what is possible to view the findings safely and will communicate this nearer the time.

  2. Before it became a car park it was the old student union building, which might hold fond memories for some, sticky carpets included.

  3. Indeed I remember SU. I worked at SU from 1988/89 producing laminated Students Union cards, sticky carpets… wonderful memories

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