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Dig in to the past at Landguard

PUBLISHED: 09:30 23 November 2001 | UPDATED: 10:53 03 March 2010

ARCHAEOLOGISTS are inviting people to share in the exciting discoveries being made at a dig at Felixstowe to find the fort which repelled the last attempted invasion of England.

ARCHAEOLOGISTS are inviting people to share in the exciting discoveries being made at a dig at Felixstowe to find the fort which repelled the last attempted invasion of England.

The excavation is being carried out by Suffolk County Council archaeologists at Landguard and is examining the origins of the 17th century fortress which was built to defend Harwich Harbour against enemy warships.

The project aims to uncover the ditch, or moat, and ramparts of the fort, designed by Simon Van Cranvelt and built between 1625 and 1628.

The five-week project has already found signs of timbers and uncovered a number of small artefacts.

Tomorrow, between 10am and 4pm, a special open day will be held and archaeologist Jezz Meredith will be on hand to give guided tours of the site to explain what has been found so far and how the work is being done.

During the day, the fort and Felixstowe Museum – housed in its Ravelin Block annexe – will also be open to visitors.

The dig has involved cutting a small L-shaped quarry out of the ground for the archaeologists to work in. They plan to go down about two metres below this, and hope to find organic material surviving in waterlogged deposits within the ditch.

The 17th century fort was square in shape with projecting corner bastions with shingle banks and turf, later reinforced with brick walls.

It was here – just in front of the Georgian fort of 1749 which stands today – that Capt Nathaniel Darell and his troops, in 1667, fought off 2,000 Dutch invaders who, with cutlasses drawn, tried to scale the fort's walls on ladders.

Just a few yards away, English Heritage has been carrying out a separate excavation as part of £1.3 million of work it is doing at the fort as part of plans to open it up to the public and create a major tourist attraction.

This has involved uncovering a Victorian gun emplacement known as the Left Battery and which was has been buried in 1,500 tonnes sand for more than 20 years.

The excavations have uncovered an ammunition carriage and the underground railway on which it would have run to take the explosives from the magazine where they were stored, to the soldiers waiting to fire the shells.

It has also unearthed a set of subterranean storerooms, and many artefacts, including bayonets, maps, spent cartridges, barbed wire entanglements, ammo boxes, machinery and mechanisms, and other objects which will be exhibited at the fort and museum.

n The county council excavation is to be open to the public until December 7, Mondays to Fridays 8.30am to 4pm, with a viewing platform with disabled access. School parties can be accommodated by ringing 01473 583290.

WEBLINKS: www.landguard.com

www.english-heritage.org.uk

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