Friday, 2 November 2012

Digging up the past…

Hello everybody!  There’s exciting things afoot (and under foot) at Petworth this year.  My name's Tom and I’m the National Trust’s archaeologist for West Sussex and the South Downs.  This year I feel very lucky that alongside my other work I will be taking a closer look at Petworth Park, unearthing the secrets and stories that lie preserved in the landscape and beneath the ground – and I’d like you to help me do it! I’m hoping there will be lots of opportunities for anyone who is interested to get involved.  But first, a bit more about Petworth, and why we are doing this in the first place… 

Petworth Park is very different from the original park which was created at least 750 years ago. Today the park is made up of gentle rolling slopes, tranquil shady glades of trees and grand vistas.  It looks natural but in fact everything we see is the result of careful crafting and moulding of the landscape over hundreds of years, to fit the fashions of the times and styles of the owners.  At one time or another, the park has included canals and formal gardens, rampart terraces and monumental stables, Henry VIII’s banqueting hall and a Second World War military camp – not to mention the original manor house! 

 A bird's eye view of Petworth Park, can you image a stable block and formal gardens stretching as far as the lake?
There are so many questions that remain to be answered, so many discoveries just waiting to be made. Over the next year we will be examining historic maps and documents, looking beneath the ground with geophysics and excavation and searching for traces and clues in the landscape to uncover the physical evidence of Petworth’s hidden past.

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