Sunday, August 23, 2009

Valencian Tiles found in medieval English royal palace

Archaeologists examining the Woking Palace in the English county of Surrey have discovered rare 15th century Valencian tiles.

The archaeological dig took place from July 22 to August 9, which included over 100 volunteers participating, and helped to uncover evidence that the site was being used as early 1200 AD.

Originally a royal manner, Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII, had it rebuilt into a palace. Henry VII was a frequent visitor to Woking Palace, while his son Henry VIII extended and enlarged the Palace between 1515 and 1543. Further work was carried out between 1565 and 1594 during Elizabeth I’s reign.

The most exciting finds were rare Valencian tiles which were made in Valencia, Spain, and date back to between 1450 and 1490. They have only been found in a few other locations across the UK according to the archaeologists working at the dig site.

Rob Poulton, one of the archaeologists working on the site, remarked: "We've found a lot of information about the walls and other elements underneath the ground and we can see that there were more extensive elements to the palace than we previously knew and we are beginning to get an idea how royalty in particular Henry VII and Henry VIII adapted the palace to suit there greater needs than were required in the medieval period so were learning an awful lot we've got some really interesting finds but really with this kind of work its afterwards when you piece together the finds the evidence of the records what we can see in the ground and what we knew already to make a much more coherent story of what to say as time goes on."

The findings from the dig will be revealed as part of the Royals and Revolutions lecture series at the Surrey History Centre during November. The programme of lectures will look at the history of the county during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Details of the event will be confimed in due course.

The Palace once owned by Henry VIII fell into disrepair after 1620. Its new owner demolished large parts of it and the building materials were taken away for re-use in the local area, so there is little left standing today.

The community archaeological excavation of Woking Palace has been organised by Surrey County Archaeological Unit (part of Surrey County Council) and Surrey Archaeological Society, with the support of Woking Borough Council.

Click here to watch a video discussing the archaeological dig