FOUND: The Walls of a 12th-Century Castle, Buried Beneath a Prison - Atlas Obscura
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FOUND: The Walls of a 12th-Century Castle, Buried Beneath a Prison

The castle dig (Photo: Cotswold Archaeology/Mark Price)

While digging in the exercise yard of a defunct jail, construction workers in Gloucester, England, unexpectedly unearthed a castle wall from the 12th century.

Back around the year 1110, the rulers of Gloucester built an impressive castle ”similar to the Tower of London,” the Western Daily Press Reports. It had three chapels, two drawbridges, and walls that were a solid 12 feet wide. 

During the 15th-century reign of Richard III (the hunchback king with a bad reputation who was recently found buried under a parking lot), the castle became a country jail. For the next 200 years or so, it served as a makeshift lockup until, in 1787, it was knocked down to make way for a dedicated prison.

This prison, which closed in 2013 following many updates to the buildings, is now in the process of being renovated. When the old basketball court was dug up, an archaeological team found a wall from the original castle just two feet beneath the ground.

It’s not clear yet what this discovery means for the future of the site. It was slated for redevelopment of some sort, but as one local planner told the Gloucester Citizen,you can’t just ignore that there is a castle there.”

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Every day, we highlight one newly lost or found object, curiosity or wonder. Discover something unusual or amazing? Tell us about it! Send your finds to sarah.laskow@atlasobscura.com.