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Archaeology at Holt Castle

The excavations at Holt Castle were designed to investigate the nature of any surviving archaeological deposits within the castle and to discover whether any traces of the castle’s outer defences survived the post-Civil war demolition. The information derived from the excavations was then used to inform the new interpretative displays and publications that were produced as part of the project.

Volunteers, Holt Dig 2013

Each summer Wrexham Heritage Service recruited volunteers, including total beginners, archaeology students and members of the Holt Local History Society, to serve as field archaeologists. They dug trenches, washed finds and some even stayed to do the backfilling.

Volunteer excavating one of the trenches at Holt Castle, 2013

Stephen Grenter (Heritage Service Manager) and Eleri Farley (Assistant Learning and Access Officer), both archaeologists, supervised the three excavations.

Archaeologist, Eleri Farley, taking measurements prior to preparing plans of the trenches, June 2014

Holt Castle Dig 2012

Archaeological excavations began on the site in August 2012, with the excavation of a cross trench across the inner courtyard of the castle and a trench to try to locate the edge of the castle ditch.

Holt Castle Dig 2013

Excavations in 2013 concentrated on the west side of the castle. A number of trenches were excavated during the six week dig. The main trench was designed to examine any surviving remains of the so-called Glazier’s or North West tower. A trench was also excavated across the area where we expected to find the remains of the castle’s barbican tower, the so-called Chequer tower. Finally a number of trenches were dug in order to pick up the continuation of the rock cut ditch edge that was revealed during the 2012 season.

The excavations revealed the circular bedrock foundations of the north western tower as well as the south western and east wall of the chequer tower itself.

Holt Castle Dig 2014

Excavations in 2014 concentrated on the east side of the castle and aimed to reveal traces of the Kitchen or North East tower as well as the South East or Chapel tower.

The excavations revealed that part of the north side of the Glazier’s tower had indeed survived; interestingly it consisted of a finely dressed battered sandstone face built against a live bedrock core. Nothing of the Chapel tower was discovered apart from the likely remains of its bedrock base.